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05 April 2006 - Wednesday

     By this point in the trip we had gotten into the habit of putting together the necessary components for a pot of coffee prior to retiring for the night. When we awoke the first item of business was to turn on the pot, whereupon we would consume a cup or two each.   The breakfast meal would normally follow after we had gotten on the road.  This morning was one of the few wherein we actually made our own breakfast of English muffins with peanut butter and jam to complement our brew. 

     It wasn’t until 9:00 am that we finally departed Claytor Lake State Park.  We got back onto Interstate 64 and about 25 miles later we exited to Interstate 77 south towards North Carolina. We quickly swept through the 55 miles in North Carolina where the price of gasoline appeared to be somewhat reasonable therefore we decided to stop in Gastonia to fill up prior to entering South Carolina.  As the interior of the van was beginning to accumulate much debris we also took this opportunity to vacuum the floor and seats.  Once into South Carolina we noted that fuel prices here were even less expensive than what we had paid in Gastonia!  Early on we decided that the cost of fuel was something we could do little about even though it would be the major expense of our journey.  The van is powered by a 5.4 liter V8 engine and has a 35-gallon fuel tank.  We stopped to fill the tank about every 400 miles and took turns paying for the fuel.  Neither asked the other what how much we had rung up.  The only exception to this rule was if the fill-up had eclipsed the previous highest cost, which eventually topped out at $76.00.  

    By 11:00 am we were driving on U.S. Highway 321 towards McConnells, South Carolina.  It was here that we hopped to find the graves of our Neely ancestors at the Bethesda Church.  Our 7th great-grandparents Samuel Henry and Elizabeth Neely were Scots-Irish and most likely came to America sometime during the early decades of the 18th century where they first settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  By 1750 they had joined the great migration south into the Piedmont country of North and South Carolina.     It was their daughter Sarah who married Michael Dickson, and Michael’s daughter Jane who married Nicholas Bishop III.  Thus our research plan for South Carolina was to focus on these three family surnames.

     Again the weather was just sunny and warm and this made our drive through the countryside just perfect.  With the assistance of our GPS device we eventually we arrived at the Church located a few miles south of McConnells on U.S. Highway 321. 

 

Bethesda Church, McConnells, SC

 As the graveyard was quite large we checked at

the office to see if they had a plot map.  Unfortunately there was no one around to assist us.  Tromping around cemeteries looking at old and weathered tombstones is nothing new to us, so much so that we now arm ourselves with 2-way radios to cut down on the time taken to run “to-and-fro”, when one of us makes a discovery.  As such we headed towards the wrought-iron gate that marked the entrance.  Just inside the gate we were delighted to see what we had come to find.  To the right is a grouping of three old stones of which one is the original headstone of our great-grandmother Elizabeth Neely born c. 1694 who lived to the ripe old age of 91 years.  According to the granite marker in front of the stones they were the only markers found in the old church cemetery and were removed to this location in 1979.  The markers also noted that our great-grandfather Samuel Neely, was also known to have been buried there and that he was the first ruling elder of Bethesda Church. 

Neely Family headstones

     Following our visit to Bethesda Church we drove further south to Chester were we located the Dickson home site on Route 72 at Rocky Creek.  It is believed that Michael and Sarah operated an Inn for the overnight keeping of travelers along what was then known as the Saluda Road before, and during the Revolution, until they moved, in about 1789, to the area of present day Anderson County, South Carolina.  While at this place we made sandwiches and ate lunch.   Tom looked over the site and took pictures.

     As the afternoon was beginning to get late we drove up to Spartanburg where we got onto Interstate 85 toward Anderson, South Carolina.  When we arrived at Anderson we ate dinner at Hooters.  They do have really good chicken wings.  Subsequently we continued on to Sadlers Lake State Park where we arrived around 7:30 just in time to enjoy the sun setting over the lake.

Sunset at Sadler Lake S. P., Anderson Co., SC

 This park, also known as Sadlers Creek, was friendly, clean and just plain beautiful.  As such we felt the need to take many photographs.  The park surely deserved our top rating of a 5.

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