Travelers Rest History: 'Droving' turkeys though town

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — From the times of the early cow drivers, the roads through Travelers Rest were used to transport herds of cattle, horses, hogs, sheep and even turkeys from Kentucky and Tennessee to market in South Carolina and Georgia.

As the late Mildred W. Goodlett wrote in The History of Travelers Rest, it was easier to transport the large amounts of corn and grain to market transformed into mules, cattle, hogs and fowl than to carry it by vehicle.

"The droves of turkeys were of particular interest. There were usually from four to six hundred half-wild birds in a flock led by one gobbler. The owner rode horseback in front, while two or three drivers followed on each side who kept the turkeys in line with long whips to which were often tied strips of red flannel.

The flock made only about six or seven miles in a day, taking to the trees at night. Getting them down from their perches in the morning was something of a problem. According to old timers, the old lead gobbler was coaxed down with a breakfast of corn or grain and the others followed.

These flocks of turkey were looked forward to every year before Thanksgiving and Christmas by the people of Travelers Rest, who provided roosting places for them in the groves nearby."

Note: Long out of print, The History of Travelers Rest is available via the Greenville County Library System here.

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