Collaborative Research

Back in July, I wrote about a South Carolina road trip, mostly along Highway 41 through the Francis Marion National Forest, past sleepy small crossroads, and also serendipitously finding a u-shape dirt road off the highway, home to a collection of buildings. These lonely buildings, near Centenary, SC, were perfect photograph subjects, though I wanted to know their stories.  Oral history has taken its toll on me – I cannot look at a building without hoping to know its inhabitants, uses, and lifespan. The same goes for historic photographs of buildings or people.

Off South Carolina Highway 41.

Off South Carolina Highway 41.

After thorough, yet fruitless internet searching, I didn’t think I would find the answers to my questions about this mysterious place.  Last week I received a comment on the Contact page from a man named Mike, who said:

I know about these buildings. I married a cute Carolina girl, whose mother was a Davis and grew up in Centenary. I’m not sure of the exact details but the Davis family owned the surrounding land and tenant farmers farmed the land. My wife speaks of when she was a child, buying penny candy at the store, which was like a department store for the tenant farmers, plows clothes gas shovels, anything they needed. I think the tenant farmers are gone and now the land is leased by agribusiness. My wife’s aunt still lives in the house nearby, and there is a cemetery somewhere nearby with a Davis crypt even. You are right, the place oozes history.

It made my day. Finally, I could associate a story with these lonely buildings. It’s a small piece to the puzzle and I hope this information will find its way to others who can in turn, share their information here.  The simple chain of events reminds me of the benefits of sharing knowledge and asking questions. We would not be able to answer all of our research questions without help from other people.  We should be grateful to those who take the time to record information, whether on paper or by word of mouth.

Do you have photographs of abandoned buildings to share? Send them along with their location and in a matter of time, maybe someone can answer your questions, too.


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