NOW AND THEN
For Black people who resided in the Pacolet and Pacolet Mills area.

By Mary Littlejohn Knox

 
As I allow myself to think of these memories I treasure them and what comes to mind is the term that "it takes a village to raise a child". As spiritual beings created by a spiritual God we all benefit when we assist and support one another. In the Pacolet and Pacolet Mills area whether we realized or not we gave gifts of time and talent from our hearts and we prayed and relied on God for our change to come. We were all a village of people who spiritually supported each other, prayed for each other, and gave love and encouragement to one another. In John 15:12 God said "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 

In 1935 I was born at "The Rock Quarry" which was a part of Pacolet. Today I thank God as I look back on the days of my beginnings and I say thank you to the people of Pacolet and Pacolet Mills who have blessed and inspired my life. Especially to my parents, Wofford (Cat) and Marie Littlejohn and also to two extra special people that resided in my household, my Uncle Willie Boy (Willie Shands) and my grandma Mary Shands Dogan (who was known by whites and blacks of that community as "Aunt Mae").

Most of the people were employed by the Rock Quarry or Pacolet Manufacturing Company. There was a sense of love for each other although there was segregation. The white folks who lived at the beginning of the village, to name a few: The Patricks, who collected the rent for the residents of the village, the Crockers, Ridings, Fowlers, Gibsons, Mabrys and the Kirbys. The black folks were the Shippys, Shands, Gists, Smiths, Goods, Rogers, Means and Williams. Also at the back of the quarry were the Bookers, Lipscombs, Palmers, Thackers, Means and McBeths. I played with all the children and had no understanding of color until I began school. My white friends rode the bus and the black kids walked several miles to and from school. The white kids would throw objects out the bus window at the black kids.

I attended Pacolet Mills Colored School which was in a village named Marysville. One of the teacher's that ran the school and taught many generations was Daisy Lee Davis and all the kids referred to her as Miss Daisy. My mother and many others were blessed to have her as their teacher. The village was named Marysville in honor of Mary Knuckles. Her daughters were special friends to my mother and her sister. Especially Ruby Knuckles Smith who gave me part of my name. 

None of the colored schools had central heat or a janitor. If you came to school early, you waited outside for the teacher to arrive and the older boys made the fire and also acted as the janitor.When you completed the grades that the colored school offered if your parents were financially able you attended Sims High in Union, SC, Granard in Gaffney, SC or Carver in Spartanburg, SC or you became employed in the white folks kitchen. Later what amazed me was that you could clean their homes, cook - with them and if you rode the bus with them you sat in the back of the bus, but if the bus had no vacant seats the driver would request that you give the white folks preferences and the black folks would stand. 

There was a doctor who attended to the health needs for everyone. If you went to the clinic the white folks were upstairs and the black folks were in the basement. All whites were treated first and the blacks last, but they said they knew God.

The church that was in Marysville was named Montgomery Chapel in honor of Ben Montgomery who gave the land for the building. The black families who resided in Marysville were Knuckles, Rice, Porter, Wannamaker, Shippy, Henderson, Vanlue, Smith, Littlejohn, McBeth, Morgan, Curry, Williams, Wyatt, Hill, Shands, Brown and Rogers. These families lived by the law "it takes a village to raise a child". 

I attended the schools in Pacolet on two occurrences, first in elementary and later in high school. I lived with my grandmother and there were three girls, Eloise Norris, Maybell Lindy and Aileen Smith who treated me very special and I loved them as family. They attended Zion Hill School in Pacolet and my request was granted to attend school with them. Due to the illness of my grandmother later that year I moved to Marysville and attended school there until I completed the seventh grade. Again God answered my prayer and I completed eighth through tenth grade at Zion Hill in Pacolet. All black schools in the rural areas were named for the black churches that were built near the school. I enjoyed my school days in Pacolet and I knew most of the children therefore I attended Gethsemane Baptist Church and walked on Sunday two miles each way to be spiritually fed. 

In 1953 there was a new beginning in Pacolet and Pacolet Mills area, the completion of Benjamin E. Mays Consolidated School for black children. There were black children bused in from the outline areas that made up District Three. They were bused to the village near Marysville. 

Segregation continued in the south which included poor housing and unfair labor. In Pacolet Mills the black employees were called "the outside workers" and were not taught how to operate the equipment that manufactured the cloth. There were two jobs that black workers performed: operating the boilers and the dummy. The dummy transported cloth to Pacolet for shipping by train to other states. 

I forgive all people for the inhumane treatment and I often think when you learn better, you will do better. Desegregation was the beginning of equal treatment for black folks in housing, employment and public education. Daily we continue to see improvement. I thank you God for your Mercy, Guidance and Love.
 
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This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster.  Contact me at:
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1311 Jahnz Ave.
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See more information about my Pacolet connection at Gerald Teaster.