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Author of ‘The Patriot Wore Petticoats’ tells tales of TR liberty-lover; statue-raising anticipated works
Wednesday, 08 November 2023 21:37
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TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — A program, “Raising the Dicey Langston Statue,” featured several speakers who focused on one of TR’s best-known heroic individuals from the past on Nov. 2 at City Hall, adjoining Trailblazer Park, here. 

A program highlight was a presentation of a model in-the-works of the Dicey Langston statue, which, after it is completed, will be installed near the gazebo along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, next to Main Street in downtown TR. 

Welcoming a predominantly female crowd of more than 50 people was city Mayor Brandy Amidon, a TR native who emphasized that she has been a long-time admirer of Dicey Langston (1766-1837), the program’s subject.

The 90-minute event, sponsored by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, featured the author of a book about Langston, as well as the sculptor who is working on a statue of Langston. 

Marnie Pehrson Kuhns — the fourth-great-grandaughter of Lanston and author of the 2004 book “The Patriot Wore Petticoats”— told of “Daring Dicey’s” life and influence.

Reportedly, the budget for the statue project is $150,000.

Opening the program was Amidon, TR’s mayor, who noted that Laodicea “Dicey” Langston was age 15 when she started performing heroic acts during the Revolutionary War that remain notable today.

The TR native’s youth, strength and bravery are some of the reasons that Langston will be the first person memorialized in a life-sized bronze statue in the heart of downtown Travelers Rest, Amidon said. (Langston also is buried in TR. To that end, a historical marker dedicated to her is located at 827-A Tigerville Road here.)

Langston’s presence is still felt and honored after all these years by her descendants and those in awe of her bravery, Amidon noted, adding that the city has discussed “a Dicey statue” for more than 10 years.

Now is the time to honor Langston “in a permanent and beautiful way” on Main Street, “so others will remember her and be inspired to lead and be brave regardless of their age or gender.” 

Amidon, who is credited with the idea of erecting a Langston statue in TR (and is also the city’s first female mayor), stressed, “I grew up here in TR. I’ve always been a Dicey Langston fan... I later thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a Dicey Langston statue?’”

Next, Kuhns, the author of “The Patriot Wore Petticoats,” began her address by noting, “When I think of Dicey, she was an expert rider. She was an expert with a rifle...

“My first encounter with Dicey was at 14-15 years old, when my mother provided me with a story of this young woman. She was born on May 14,1766 — I was born in May 1966, so we were just about 200 years apart...

“I got into writing …. and I pitched them (the book publisher) the idea. There was this idea of these men came in and wanted to get a rifle from Dicey. It was Thomas Springfield (her future husband), who came to get the rifle. It was a fun little story on how they met — and then he kept coming back... and a romance sprang up... That’s why you might have more of a romance element to this book than you might think. People seem to like Dicey…. It does make her relatable. She was a 16-17-year old girl,” when many of her documented exploits occurred.

For this program, “The DAR asked me to speak a little about the importance of female patriots... I started thinking about the stories of Dicey that have been carried down and what can we learn from her story...” 

As a young girl growing up as a fan of Langston, Kuhns said, she saw the Revolutionary War heroine (Langston) as someone who is with a bunch of people who are pro-Tory, pro-British. So her family (of Whigs) are the ‘oddballs.’ Women of the time were basically treated like kids. So Dicey did not get discounted just as a ‘kid,’ but also as a ‘patriot.’”

After pause, Kuhns added, “So they (the pro-British neighbors) didn’t pay attention to her (Langston), so she started to listen to them,” instead.

“Her father was in his 40s or 50s — and he had taught his children to be patriotic. They were very religious and devout people. Solomon and his wife (Sarah Bennett) taught their children to love their country and to stand up for their country.

“Dicey also was in a time period where you almost have a ‘civil war’ (raging) within the community... There were those who were, basically, ‘cowboys’ — taking what they wanted. The Bloody Scouts were terrible and were led by a man named Bill Cunningham. They would take them (enemies) out of their houses -— and kill them in terrible ways.”

In referring to the Bloody Scouts, Kuhns said, at one point, “they told her (Langston’s) father that he needs to take control of his ‘meddlesome daughter’ — or else!”

Soon, according to the author, Langston herself received the following warning from the Bloody Scouts: 

“If you don’t stop what you’re doing, we’re going to destroy your family!”

After a pause Kuhns asked, rhetorically, “I will ask you about what it means to stand up for freedom? 

“Put yourself in Dicey’s position — and ask yourself what Dicey did to apply to my situation. Because I think we live in parallel times... well, not exactly...

“Even while everyone else is losing their heads, the Langston family did not. They did not abandon their values even though everyone else around them did. They continued to be kind to their neighbors.”

Returning to the aforementioned threat, Kuhns said, “There’s this story… She (Dicey) has been warned. So she stops spying. Then she hears this story that the Elder settlement at Little Eden (about 5 miles from TR) will be attacked at dawn. 

“She doesn’t want the settlement to die. Her brother James is there....

“So Dicey (at age 15) sets out in the middle of the night and crosses a swollen river and nearly drowned.” In crossing the raging river in the dark, she fell into the water and had to take a guess as to which side was the correct one to reach Little Eden.  

“They said ‘providence’ helped her.” Kuhns noted. “It ends up it was the right side” of the river embankment that she chose to swim to — and “Dicey made it in time to warn her brother James, so that he and his men could warn the settlement. 

“When the Bloody Scouts arrived the next day, the Elder settlement had been evacuated....”

According to the story, the author said, “Dicey then goes home — and arrives just in time to fix her Dad’s breakfast...

Then, Kuhn asked, “How many of you here are descendants of Dicey?”

At least half of those in attendance appeared to have raised their hands in response.

On a separate occasion, the author then told a story wherein “some of the patriots were going to come pick up (confiscate) a gun from Dicey. They knock” on the door of her parents’ house. “They say they were there to pick up the rifle.”

“What’s the counter-sign?” Dicey reportedly asked Springfield, then a stranger (who would later become her husband). 

Kuhns said Springfield supposedly answered, with his fellow patriots around him, “I don’t need a password... I’ve got the gun — and you!” 

In response, Dicey reportedly pointed her rifle at Springfield and asserted, “Well, take it from me — if you dare.

As the story goes, Springfield and his men were impressed by the 15-year-old girl’s courage — and left... without confiscating her rifle. 

With a smile, Kuhns noted of Dicey, “She’s a bit enamored by the boy (Springfield) who showed up at the door, so that is why she didn’t ask for the password earlier.” She added that Dicey is said to have thought Springfield was boldand handsome.

On another occasion, the author said, “the Bloody Scouts broke into the home of Dicey’s family — and threatened to kill all the Langston men. Only her father was present. He had been crippled during the war and wasn’t able to defend himself as well as he once could have. 

“The Bloody Scouts held him at gunpoint — and she (Dicey) stepped in front of her father, shielding him with her own body. She told them they would have to kill her first.  

“One of the Bloody Scouts (reportedly) was so impressed with her bravery that he stopped the assault — and kept the others from killing Dicey or her father.”

“Both the patriots (colonialists seeking to be independent from Great Britain, also known as Whigs) and the Tories (colonialists loyal to Great Britain) did bad things,” Kuhns emphasized.

She then reiterated that the Langston family — to its credit — embodied “this idea of being kind and respectful of everyone, whether they believed the way you do or not.

“You might say she’d never warn someone who was her enemy. She honored life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

“Sometimes, now, if there are conflicts, you just want to ‘ghost’ people. She (Dicey) would address problems, rather than let them simmer.” 

To honor Dicey, Kuhns said, “We can teach the younger generation good principles and be a good role model for them.

“She (Dicey) had 15 children. Her descendents fought in every major war. My Dad is a hardcore patriot. I think it’s the legacy of Dicey. I don’t know of any non-freedom-loving Springfields. Later in life, she said she was proud to have 32 sons and grandsons.

“There’s one thing I wanted to bring out…. Patriotism is more than fighting. I think it’s how we hold to our values — of freedom, honor, integrity... and how we treat other people — that we’re all created in the image of our creator. What we do with our life, that is our choice. I think how we protect those values is through patriotism.”

The final speaker, Nick Ring, the statue’s sculptor,  spoke about his thoughts on the still in-the-works project model, noting he has given much thought to need for “the garments flowing in the wind — and all that... She was such a young woman of action, I’d have her dash off the pedestal...

“I had one pose when she was holding a rifle — with a basket of eggs on one arm, as she aimed the rifle...

“Then it became sort of metaphoric. Really, what I have is a symbol of the spirit of Dicey. Her likeness is not formulated yet. I’d love to have pictures” of her...

“What I was trying to do is try to translate is Dicey’s historic legacy in brass and stone. It became clear to me that she was extremely active as a stealth agent. She was not the standing-around type.

“I depicted Dicey dashing off the pedestal, answering a call to action, which she frequently did.

“My other desire was to make a sculpture that was cool. Something that might compel passersby to investigate. Something that Traelers Rest might want to advertise. Most importantly... overdue recognition to a local hero. I think it will be a unique piece. I’ve been around for some 30-some years, doing this sort of thing, but I’ve never done anything like this,” the sculptor said.

During a brief question-and-answer session that followed Ring’s address, an unidentified woman asserted, “I think you nailed it — with having her running off the statue platform.”

An unidentified man asked, “How much more time before it (the statue) is done?”

Obviously choosing his words carefully as the mayor and others watched and listened, the sculptor answered, “It’s kind of financially driven... At the stage it is at right now, it was take five to six months at the foundry. So give this kind of thing a year — once the funds are available.”

As the Q&A concluded, TR Mayor Brandy Amidon added with a smile that the city “would like to see it (the statue) done by 2026.” She also noted that TR welcomes donations to the “Dicey” statue project.




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