We'll call this storyteller Julia Arrants. That's her great-grandmother's name and the name she publishes under. She's also the artist-in-residence for Cheraw State Park this year. Traveling from her home in Guyton, Ga., Arrants stayed in a cabin at the park last week while she researched stories, legends and tales about the state park. She is a writer from Guyton, Ga., but she is a native of Sumter. Cheraw State Park is also familiar ground for her. As a teenager, she spent many summers visiting her uncle, Joe Frank Watson, who was a superintendent for Cheraw's park years ago.
It was Uncle Joe who set her on the trail of the murder in the park, but local people couldn't verify the story. No one had heard tell of a black fortuneteller being murdered in her cabin where she lived at the end of the park.
"Nobody knew why she was murdered," Arrants said, who was also informed to look for a picture of a black woman barefoot and smoking a corn cob pipe - that would be Susannah Gainey.
Arriving last Monday, Arrants went from source to source, asking questions about the Gainey woman or any other lore surrounding the park. She heard about 10-foot long alligators and Montrose the Monster of the Pee Dee River, a legend she was already familiar with.
"Normally state parks generate spooky stories that are claimed to be true," Arrants said.
For more of this story see the July 10, 2003 edition of the Chronicle and Advertiser.