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By John C. Feltham, III (Johnny)
My first trip to Edgefield occurred only two weeks after being born in Columbia. I was taken by ambulance at the request and paid for by grandmother and step grandfather, Grace and Mims Mobley. Being the first grandchild and first grandson has its advantages. So, my many trips to Edgefield started early and now I have signed the guest book over 80 times.
Mamie, our maid at Halcyon Grove (my grandparent’s house, Halcyon Grove, John and Frances Feltham) was my babysitter in my early years and had some influence on my life.
I learned so much from Mamie….hard work, neatness, manners, etc….she even taught me how to play kick the can in the back-yard. She was loved by all….frequently she could be seen walking up Buncombe Street to the old Colonial Store and was well recognized in the city.
Junior High School
Towne Theatre — I got my first job in Edgefield as I worked in the Concession Stand and in the film room in the local theatre. The Concession Stand and the theatre was racially separated which proved to be very interesting/educational and caused me to have respect for the history of Edgefield and its eventual growth in race relations. I got to see all of my friends and their dates at the theatre even though I did not have time to date much. I got hamburgers every night at the Pool Hall for my grand-mom and granddad to eat while we worked. I still eat at the Pool Hall, so there is no way to estimate how many I have consumed.
Mobley Construction Company — my step grandfather was very successful here in Edgefield. He had a noticeable stuttering problem, but never let that get in his way. I was proud to be able to call him my Papa and learned plenty from him. During the summers, I worked with him and we even covered the county with movie posters every Sunday, plus managed to eat at Wade’s Triangle a good deal. He was quite an influence on me.
Hart Bonded Warehouse — As you can see by my part time jobs, I was very busy when visiting Edgefield. I worked with my grand-mom at Hart Bonded Warehouse and my primary job was cutting samples from the 500 pound bales for mailing to the USDA for testing. There were plenty Edgefieldians that worked in that job. It was pretty much in air conditioning so a lot easier than packing peaches.
When I was not working, I was playing….My grandfather, Big John (even though he was shorter than me) had several boats…..we fished in the Gulf, Clark’s Hill, a pond that he owned out off the Greenwood Highway, my Uncle Jack’s pond in Johnston, Turkey Creek, and other bodies of water all over the state. My largest memory, other than pounds and pounds of fish, was one time when we launched his boat at Yankee Town on the Gulf of Mexico. We traveled until we were out of sight of land and caught sharks that pulled the boat (interesting), we caught sea trout and all kinds of strange fish…it was a good day. Big John cranked the motor when we were through fishing and when it started to storm with lightening hitting the water around us only to find that the boat had very little throttle and we could barely make headway. I sat next to Big John under the boat’s canopy while my grandmother, Mom Frances, bravely sat on the stern seats. The storming got worse as we crept back towards land. Needless to say, Big John lost a few Sunday school lessons that day. The gasoline that we had gotten in Yankeetown was not pure gasoline. Big John had a “word of prayer” with the owner of the station when we finally returned.
We also hunted all the over the country with Big John and my dad, managing to capture most of the animals that are in season. Big John raised English setters which we used to hunt quail. The one that was given to me, unfortunately, had to be given away due to our moving. That was a real sad day for me.
Tenth Grade — this year was spent living in Edgefield. My Dad was called to duty in Vietnam, so we moved here while he was gone. We lived in a little house on Columbia Road next to Carnoosie. I thoroughly enjoyed my year at Thurmond and wished, that upon moving, I would have been able to stay and graduate with my fellow Rebels. I met a lot of people in the year that I stayed here and have tried to see them again over time. I played basketball (in basketball, I remember having to compete with two tall guys, Bettis Rainsford and Hugh Bland, I had to learn how to defend myself with high elbows and blocking out) and I was on the track team, (I remember how fast Billy Keesley was and the fact that we competed without a track…all of our meets were away).
I have three daughters and through their growing up period they have learned to love Edgefield and the isolation of Sweetbriar, our family home on Cantelou Road. I have spent a lot of time researching my family and when at Halcyon Grove, I feel my great-grand parents’ presence, PM Feltham, Sr., and Curran Maude Hartley. They were so much a part of Edgefield. I also, when at Sweetbriar, feel the presence of my grandfather who was Sheriff of Edgefield County and predeceased me. I feel inspired to do something in honor of these people and all the other relatives that lived here.
I decided in October 2012 to retire to my favorite place in the world. I love to walk over the 80+ acres and love the creak of the doors and floors that are over 200 year old. I feel the presence of Preston Brooks, Mary Cantelou, Bettis Cantelou, James Rainsford, Morgan Sellers and others who lived here, including the slaves of pre-Civil War time. My grandfather Jack White bought this house just prior to his passing, but thankfully my grandmother and mother have kept it in the family since 1949. In fact, My Aunt Kitty and her husband Bobby lived upstairs in Sweetbriar after he came back from war. That is where my wife and I live now, so history is repeating itself and I thank God every day for the many stories and the opportunity to be part of history, and maybe to contribute to some.
I hope to acclimate to my old “hometown” over the next several years. I am sure joining a church will help to further create memories. Who knows, politics may be in my blood, but suffice it to say that I am lucky enough to come home to the haven that I always knew was Edgefield.