Eventually the mother of five children, she worked in the mill until her mid 70s. Never in her life did McClain, or her husband, Cowan, also a millworker, discuss the shooting or the violence at the mill in 1934 with any of their children.
That’s because my grandfather, Dan Beacham, who managed the mill and participated in the shootings that killed seven people and wounded 30 others that day, imposed a veil of secrecy over the town that lasted more than 60 years.
He used fear, threats and intimidation to silence the town’s greatest tragedy, now known as "Bloody Thursday." I wrote of this small town secret in my book, Whitewash: A Southern Journey through Music, Mayhem and Murder.
The current episode of Appalachian History’s podcast has a section on the story of my hometown and grandfather. Host Dave Tabler reads from an op-ed I wrote for the local newspaper there. Listen to the audio by clicking on the Shooting at Honea Path below.