The McKinney ancestors of William Andrew came
to South Carolina from Rutherford County, North Carolina. His great,
great, great grandfather John McKinney was active in the Revolutionary
War. The family had come to North Carolina from Ireland or Scotland
by way of Pennsylvania. The complete story of his McKinney family
can be seen at (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~teaster/)
My father, William Andrew (Bill) McKinney, was born in Glendale,
SC on February 11, 1911. At that time, his family was living on 16 Street.
He went to Glendale Elementary School through the 6th grade and quit.
Later his family moved from the mill village to a farm near the intersection
of Hillcrest Road and Sloans Grove Road. During his teenage years, Bill
spent a great deal of time at the farm of his grandfather, Jack McKinney.
His, Grandpa Jack, was a tough man but Bill seemed to thrive on working
for him. All of his life, he really wanted to be a farmer and he took pleasure
in having a garden and raising animals, especially dogs. But, by the time
Bill was an adult, it was very hard to make a living as a farmer, so he
became a carpenter. His Grandpa Jack, his father, Andrew (Pop), and several
of his brothers were also carpenters. He was taught the carpentry trade
by Hyde Brown of Ben Avon. Bill became a master carpenter and took great
pride in his work. Even when he needed the work, he would quit a job that
was doing inferior work or using cheap unsafe materials.
Bill became an adult during the heart of the depression. Work was
hard to come by. The mill at Glendale and others around Spartanburg “curtailed”
and began to work only a few days each week. Bill and his brother, Robert
(Bob), heard that the textile mills in Columbus, Georgia had work and
were actually hiring.
(William (Bill) McKinney and Hilda Olive McKinney
in the early 1930's.)
In about 1930, Bill and Bob left Glendale and traveled to
Columbus to see what they could find. Both did find work in the Bibb City
Mill for awhile but both also found something far more important. Both
found wives. Bill met and married Hilda Olive and Bob met and married Mureil
O’Daniel. In 1935, after the birth of their daughter, Barbara Ann (Bobbie),
Bill brought Hilda and Bobbie back to Spartanburg County. Shortly after
that, he hired a taxi to make the round trip of almost 600 miles to bring
his mother-in-law Mary Willie Olive to Spartanburg. She lived with Bill
and Hilda until her death in 1972.
My mother was born in Cottonwood, Alabama. She was the daughter
of Mary Willie Hawkins Olive and William Edward Olive. By the time
she was three, her father had died and four of her siblings had died. This
left her mother, her brother Edward and her to make up their family. Shortly
after her dad died they moved to Florida where they lived for a short
time with her grandfather Hawkins. Then they moved to Columbus, Georgia
where her mother worked in the Bibb Mill.
She quit school in the sixth grade and worked at a book binding company
and in the mill. My parents were married in June of 1932. My sister,
Barbara Ann (Bobbie) was born in Columbus in November of 1934. Two and a
half years later, I was born in May of 1937. By that time they had set up
house, on East Cleveland Street in Spartanburg. It was across the street
from Wofford College. My grandparents, Andrew and Addie, lived next door.
In 1937, Bill’s, Grandpa Jack, became seriously ill with cancer and
sent for Bill to come live with him and take care of him. Bill and Hilda
and Barbara and me (Mary Lee), and Granny Olive came to Glendale and lived
with Grandpa Jack until his death in 1940.
World War II brought major changes to the lives of almost
everyone in this country, including Bill and Hilda. Bill’s brothers Bob,
Roy, David and Sam all joined the service. Bill tried to join but was
turned down for health reasons. Not being able to join the service was
a major disappointment to him for the rest of his life. It was decided
by the brothers that Bill should take care of their parents, Andrew and
Addie, and the families the brothers left at home.
He decided to help with the war effort with his skill as a carpenter.
He went to work for a huge, secret project in Tennessee. He came home many
weekends to check on the people in his care. Nobody, including those who
built it, knew what the plant was for. In August, 1945, it became public
knowledge what had been done at the plant at Oak Ridge. They had been making
radioactive material to be used in the bombs that were dropped on Japan
and that finally ended the War.
After the War, Roy, Bill, David, Sam and their father, Andrew, got
involved with the Carpenter’s Union in Spartanburg. Andrew became the
full time president of the Union and Bill and Roy became union organizers.
His biggest project was at the Savannah, River Nuclear Project in Aiken,
SC. At the end of his career, Bill worked at Clement Lumber Company in
Spartanburg doing custom carpentry work.
My Mom, Hilda, was a quiet woman in appearance. She could sew
most anything she could find a pattern for. She made almost all of
mine and Bobbie’s clothes. Canning was a constant summer job.
Daddy always had a huge garden of every kind of vegetable. We had
a cow most of the time and she churned the butter and made buttermilk.
All her cooking was from ‘scratch’ and delicious. Unfortunately, it was
not an inherited trait for me, Bobbie got that one.
She was a member of the Glendale Baptist Church. She enjoyed
church and her Sunday School Class, it was her only social outlet.
(Hilda and Bill about 1984.)
Caring for people defined my Dad’s personality as well as
his rougher side. His mother told him before she died that it was his
job to take care of her two unmarried sisters, Bess and Ada Corn. He took
this as a very serious duty and cared for them until their death. He was
not the oldest in the family but he took on that responsibity for watching
over his sister and brothers. He was a furious protector of my mother and
sister and me.
He was considered a “dangerous man” by some and not many
cared to cross him. He liked to drink and, in his early years,
to fight. He told of going into a bar and announcing “I can whip any man
here.” In his older years, he still had the scars on his back where someone
had broken a chair over his back in just such an encounter.
Although Glendale saw him as a tough man, no girl ever had a more
caring and loving Daddy. I dogged his steps from the time I could walk.
He taught me to shoot a shotgun, love the smell of wood and the outdoors,
to respect my elders and all people, to love animals and to bite my bottom
lip when I worked. A trait I have never been able to break. At his
funeral, many people told me of the caring help he had extended to them.
We never knew of these acts of kindness during his life.
Bill became ill early in 1986 with lung cancer and died later that
year at the age of 75.
After my Daddy’s death in 1976, my Mom, Hilda, went to stay a Maranatha
Home and then moved to Skyland Retirement home in east Spartanburg.
In 2000, I moved her to Summerville so I could take care of her.
She died on February 24, 2005 of complications with congestive heart failure.
Bill and Hilda had two daughters. Barbara
Ann McKinney Dunagin and Mary Lee McKinney
Story Contributed by Mary Lee McKinney Teaster