One of my cousins once told me that every week he would call his sister in New York City and ask her “What’s happening?” and she would always reply, “Nothing.” He then would call his children in Washington, DC, and ask them “What’s happening?” and they also would reply, “Nothing.” Finally, he would call his father at the Crossroads and ask him “What’s happening?” at which point his father would take a deep breath and proceed, “Ah, you’re not gonna believe everything that’s happening here this week.” His conclusion was that everything happens at the Crossroads.
At 52 years of age, I returned to my roots, the Crossroads of Highways 378 and 527; 12 miles east of Sumter, South Carolina, and about seven miles south of the small community known as Mayesville. This rather non-descript Crossroads holds years of history and family lore. In the 1750’s early Scottish- Irish settlers founded a small settlement in the area and called it Salem. At the center of the settlement was built a log structure called Salem Black River Meeting House, which was established in 1759. Since the Anglican Church of England did not acknowledge that Protestants were entitled to name a church, the phrase Meeting House continued to be used until 1768, when it first was referred to as a Presbyterian Church.
On January 1, 1800, the State Legislature of South Carolina united Salem, Claremont and Clarendon Counties into a new district called Sumterville. The particular intersection east of Sumterville, on the other side of the Black River Swamp, became known by the family who owned the land as McBride’s Corner. When Maude McBride married Eugene Whitefield Dabbs, and the Dabbs lineage multiplied throughout the community, it became more accurate to call it Dabbs Crossroads, although many local maps still list it as McBride’s.
The Crossroads is where Eugene Whitefield Dabbs and Alice Maude McBride Dabbs raised six children. Nestled back in the trees are four homes that have been passed down to subsequent generations. Each of these homes has a name: Rip Raps, Fern Park, Road’s End in-the-Pines, and Whitfield. The Dabbs family has a strong belief that the personality of every home is enhanced by giving it a name. While the homes have created places, it is the people who have created the stories and they are what this book is about – the stories.
My grandmother, Stella Glascock Dabbs, strongly felt that each individual who sat at her dinner table had an obligation to provide conversational entertainment that merited the trouble of preparing the meal. Around that table, hundreds of hours of stories continued to be told as younger generations each learned the Dabbs-art of storytelling. The rule of thumb has always been that the entertainment value outweighs the need for fact. Thus, the oral history that follows is from stories that have been told and retold. I believe that there is factual truth to most of it. Great time has been put into documentation. Should you think, however, that one or more of the stories are a little far fetched, don’t be too sure. There is at least a smattering of truth to it all.
From the time I was a child vacationing at the Crossroads, I have sat and listened as relatives have told these stories about one another and repeated bits of family history. The older I became, the more I realized what a unique collection of tales they had to tell, and I wanted to record much of what I had heard for future generations.
As I began to write, more and more information appeared. I found old letters and pictures that had been packed away for decades. A few relatives had already done significant research into the genealogy of the family, and had information that was invaluable.