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Rural Humanities I

Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties
Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties

During the summer of 1987 (July through September) McKissick Museum sponsored a folklife survey of the "Old Pendleton District," an area that includes Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties. The documentation involved interviews and photographs with folk artists who represent some of the cultural traditions that are characteristic of the region.

The Old Pendleton District was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1777. Many folk narrative traditions reflect strong Native American influences. Cotton dominated the agricultural economy from the Civil War to World War II. Farmers raised and sold cotton, as well as growing their own fruits, vegetables, and domestic livestock.

In the late 19th century, developers began to build textile mills and the economic and social landscape would forever change. Many farming families moved into mill villages, trading the uncertainty of farm income for a regular wage. Like farming, working in the mill was not easy and often involved working in hot, poorly ventilated buildings.

Both farm and mill families entertained themselves with rich musical traditions - banjo, fiddle, and organ were common instruments and dances were held on a regular basis.

In farming communities, skilled craftspeople created many of the everyday needs from local materials - baskets, axe handles, furniture, quilts and so on. While some of these traditions have faded from active practice, many of them are still a vibrant part of the community. Unless otherwise noted, all interviews and photographs by Laurel Horton.

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