On the morning of September 6, 1934 — 80 years ago — in the tiny town of Honea Path, South Carolina, friends and neighbors came to blows in a labor dispute. When it was over, seven people were dead and 30 others wounded.
The bloody riot at the town's cotton mill on that warm Thursday morning shaped the lives of two generations to follow — not because of the shock of what was known, but by what was unknown. Fear, threats and intimidation were used to silence the story of the greatest tragedy in the town's history.
This September is the 80th anniversary of the murders at Chiquola Mill in Honea Path. Honea Path will not commemorate the anniversary. It would rather forget the tragedy. The story has been erased, not only from the history books, but from the public consciousness of those people most affected by it.
An instrument of fear was so powerful that parents were afraid to tell the story to their own children. It formed a lifelong social contract for the entire community's survival.
My name is Frank Beacham. I grew up in Honea Path. My mother was the town's history teacher. My father sold textile supplies. My grandfather, I later learned, organized the posse of gunmen who fired on their fellow workers in 1934.
In order that the murders in Honea Path not be forgotten, I have produced this 48-minute audio documentary. You can listen or download it. I hope you will listen. It will be posted during the month of September.
My e-book, a full multimedia account of what happened in Honea Path is titled Mill Town Murder ($9.99) (ISBN-9781629218465). It’s available at Apple’s iTunes, Amazon’s Kindle book store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store. It can also be bought directly from the store at Vook here and read online there on Macintosh and PC platforms.