The Lake Waccamaw Depot Museum is hosting a talk by Thelma Crawford Green, the last survivor of the two-farm settlement of Betsysburg that was located near Dupree Landing at the
The Lake Waccamaw Depot Museum is hosting a talk by Thelma Crawford Green, the last survivor of the two-farm settlement of Betsysburg that was located near Dupree Landing at the museum on Sunday, February 9 at 3 p.m.. Thelma is now I think 100 years old and still lives on her own. Her talk entitled, “The Village of Betsysburg.”
Excerpt from a story written in 2015 about Betsysburg by NR staff writer, Ray Wyche – Isolated Betsysburg lives only in memory
Ask about Betsysburg within earshot of a long-time Lake Waccamaw resident and you’ll get a quick but indefinite answer: a place near Dupree Landing.
Ask how do I get there, the answer will be something like, “There’s nothing there now.”
Betsysburg exists at present only in memories. Planted pine saplings are growing where, until 1930, Ulysses “Lish” Crawford and his son Sam and their families tended small farms, cut timber and made cypress shingles by hand.
Betsysburg was seldom mentioned on timber company maps and never in an atlas. As most country villages were in that time, there wasn’t much there. There were no stores, no churches, no schools, no post office — just two small farms on sandy land where corn and cotton once flourished.
But first hand memories of the place still live in the remarkably alert mind of Thelma Crawford Green, the last person born in Betsysburg and one of the last to leave. Green recently celebrated her 95th birthday at her home north of Hallsboro. She recalls vividly her busy childhood, with only siblings and parents as playmates, but with a lake of just under 9,000 acres in her front yard.
She remembers during the wintertime school term walking more than a mile, shivering in the winter wind blowing off the lake, to board a school bus at Dupree for the trip to a school at Hallsboro.
Green now lives alone and drives her pickup wherever she wants to go. She tends her attractive front yard without any help.
“I went to the doctor recently for a checkup and he said I was in better shape than he was,” she says. “I take care of myself — most of the time. As long as I am able to do, let me do. I mow my yard. It doesn’t hurt me to ride that mower.”
Her energy and concern for others reach their peaks around Christmastime. An excellent pastry cook, and without any help, she cooks pies and cakes to give to the single men (widowers and bachelors) in her church, Hallsboro Baptist. The church has nothing to do with this altruistic project. It’s Thelma Green alone.
The last of five children of Katie and Sam Crawford, Green relates how before her birth that her father Sam hoped the new addition to the family would be a boy to go with the one boy in the family.
“They say he said, when told the new baby was a girl, ‘Well, I’ll make a boy out of her.’ Everywhere he went, I went, too. He taught me to fish and I’d go fishing with him,” Green says.
Despite the lack of neighbors, especially some with children, the Crawford children had only each other to play with.
“We entertained each other,” Green says.
The lake, just a few steps from her home, was a wonderful playground and Green spent many hours enjoying the water.
In the manner of all mothers, Katie worried about her youngest child’s safety. She told Carson, her only son, to look after Thelma. “She was afraid I’d drown,” Green says.
“You can’t drown a fish,” Carson replied to his mother.
During her adult life, at one period Green taught swimming.
Despite having a tempting swimming hole for a front yard, the Crawfords lived on a farm and there was some sort of farm work the entire family was engaged in all year. She compares farming today with the way it was done in her father’s time.
“I watched a combine gather corn the other day,” she says. “It was fascinating. We had to break the ears from the stalk by hand and carry it to a wagon. We didn’t know anything different.”
A timber company bought the land that was once a peaceful, productive farm. Now, a pine plantation covers Betsysburg.
Betsysburg was an ideal place in which a child could grow up.
“It was a good place to live,” Thelma Green says.