Wednesday, November 28, 2012
On the road to St. Stephen, a lonely stretch of Highway 52 out of Moncks Corner, travelers see a simple sign pointing west to MacBeth. Most cars pass by the two-lane asphalt road. Over the years, the rural community has gone largely overlooked.
Enter local writer Norman Walsh, who discovered this small Berkeley County community four years ago and set out on a mission of love to tell the town’s story
“Macbeth, South Carolina, People and Places 1811- 2011,” is a book that tells the story of a community’s history and its residents as much as the old buildings that once stood there.
“I spent a large part of the last four years of my life in activities that led to the publication of this book on the history of MacBeth and its people,” Walsh told a packed house at the Interpretation Center book signing in Old Santee Canal Park on Nov. 4. “I view this book signing event as being like the movies’ Academy Awards. I am just the master of ceremonies and you are the stars who deserve the Oscars.”
Walsh’s project began in 2008 when attending the reunion of some of the Berkeley High School classmates of Patricia Weeks.
“I asked Patricia about her life growing up in MacBeth and this led to her taking me to her family’s home site in MacBeth, which had been unoccupied for 33 years,” he said.
Walsh said the old home and mechanical remnants of farm life was a photographer’s dream site.
“I have an insatiable curiosity,” he said. “It is a gift and a curse.
“Every question I asked about MacBeth led to another person to interview and another place to see.”
Walsh was hooked and as he embarked on his journey of writing the book, he began talking to the family members of the MacBeth community such as Bonnie Weeks Baggett.
“Bonnie became my mentor and guide,” he said. “She provided me with the only known documents outlining the history of MacBeth’s landmark, Rehoboth United Methodist Church. Her mother collected these records for more than 40 years.”
The book contains a treasure trove of maps, old photographs and recollections provided by Ernestine Tyler Weeks led to the book’s dedication to mother and daughter.
Other MacBeth sources include Walter McGregor (Junior) Dennis and dedicated research and editing provided by Cecy Guerry.
“Junior’s hand drawn map of old MacBeth gave me my first tool to identify home sites now covered with underbrush and trees,” Walsh said.
Dennis’ maps supplemented by the maps of Marguerite Harvey Oliver and Evelyn Riggs, helped Walsh gain a more vivid perspective of the community of MacBeth. “Cecy Guerry has been a dedicated researcher, but I could not have completed the book without her editing skills.”
“Macbeth, South Carolina, People and Places 1811- 2011,” is available in Moncks Corner at The Collector’s Corner, The Berkeley Museum at Old Santee Canal Park, and Delta Pharmacy, and sells for $40. Walsh donated all revenue generated by the book benefits the Berkeley County Historical Society.