PICKENS COUNTY — The “Appalachian Honor” barn quilt hangs at Holly Springs Country Store located at the intersection of S.C. 11 and U.S. 178 in upper Pickens County where it serves as a reminder to all those who view it that “all gave some, but some gave all.”
The fabric quilt, quilted by Paula Rivers with the assistance and expertise of Lucy Harward, is done in the log cabin pattern.
Rivers wanted to make a quilt that would honor the veterans of this area, as well as their families. She found a picture of a quilt she liked but could not find a pattern for it. Harward said “no problem” and with her years of quilting experience, quickly turned out a pattern for their quilt and they began the sewing and quilting.
War has touched the lives of almost everyone through the years. The community of Holly Springs, although small in number, is no exception.
Ralph Chastain, who owned and operated the Holly Springs Store from the 1940’s to the late 1970’s, was a veteran of World War II. When he returned home from the war, he found the little clapboard store closed. At that time it sat beside U.S. 178 across from Holly Springs Baptist Church.
He quickly set about reopening it to serve the local population.
It was not that many years later that another call to service was sent and several of Holly Spring’s finest boys were drafted into the Vietnam conflict. Some never returned.
Woody Chastain and Buddy Gilstrap are two who lost their lives at a very young age. Hub Smith, a local native, remembers the day a military officer came into Holly Springs store to ask directions to the Chastain home. He had come to deliver the devastating news no parent ever wants to hear.
There are others who are still frequent customers at the store who survived war, including Frank Sobin, a veteran of three foreign wars. They all served their country honorably during various conflicts.
Major Bill Rivers bought Holly Springs Country Store in the early 1980’s. He was just retired from 22 years in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator on B-52’s. During his career, he flew more than 175 missions over Vietnam.
This barn quilt is also dedicated to the “unsung heroes” of war. Our unsung heroes include those family members left here while their loved ones were away in service. Mothers and fathers who spent sleepless nights worrying and praying for their sons and daughters, sometimes only to have their worst fear realized.
Paula’s father, Verdell Aiken, was drafted into WWII along with his three brothers.
“I can’t imagine the anxiety my grandmother endured having all her sons in a war zone at the same time,” she said. “Then there are the wives of servicemen who for months or years at a time essentially raised their children alone.”
Some children grew up during some of the most critical years of their lives without a father figure in the household while anxiously wondering if their father would ever come home. Cameron Rivers, son of Bill Rivers and Paula’s husband, who is the current owner of Holly Springs Country Store, was one of those children.
“When dad was away on missions, I remember being at elementary school on Base and seeing the CNO (Casualty Notification Officer) coming down the hall,” Rivers said. “I would keep my head down and try to be invisible, terrified it might be me who was getting the bad news this time.”
This quilt of valor celebrates a long line of veterans that have both directly and indirectly impacted the lives of the people in this little Appalachian community called Holly Springs. Some have been long time residents while others have moved here more recently.
According to statistics, Pickens County has more Medal of Honor recipients per capita than any other county in the United States of America thus, the name “Appalachian Honor.”