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Greenwood County Hash

Sharon Deas with a photo of her father Charles Flinn, hashmaster at Grendel Mill
Sharon Deas' father Charles Flinn - hashmaster at Grendel Mill

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The Greenwood area of South Carolina is home to many Upstate hash traditions. One “origin story” concerns the altercation between Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina and Sen. Summers of Massachusetts in 1856. Sen. Summers’ disparaging remarks about the South prompted Rep. Brooks to attack him on the Senate floor. News of the incident spread fast and large crowds between 6,000 and 10,000 gathered at Star Fort in Ninety-Six, SC, in support of Rep. Brooks when he returned. A food was needed at this event that could feed the multitudes as well as keep in an age without refrigeration. Thus, the famous “Ninety-Six Hash” was born. It is said to be the source recipe for all of the hash made around Greenwood – one of the “hash-hubs” of the state.

In the modern era, hash served at political “stump meetings” provided a backdrop to the speeches and campaigning of candidates around the state. But in Greenwood, the “crown jewel” stump meeting with hash at its center occurred on the family farm of William Jennings Bryan Dorn – one of South Carolina’s most popular of politicians. Here hash served as a “congregational” food that could serve hundreds inexpensively using a popular foodway commonly cooked for special occasions on the farms of an agricultural society.

The textile mills of the 19th and 20th century in upstate South Carolina used hash as a way to attract farmers of their land and into the spinning rooms. Mill owners would build hash houses on the grounds of the mills and hold hash-cookings in them on holidays. Mill-worker’s families were allowed to cook hash for birthday celebrations and special events. In Greenwood there still stands a monument to this millworker’s hash tradition in the form of a tiny historic restaurant called The Hash House. Greenwood area hash is served in many contexts. Networks of local volunteer fire departments cook hash as a fundraising effort, as do churches. Hash is cooked at hunt clubs with a variety of game. Most restaurants use stainless steel pots instead of the iron pots to make their hash. Although limited by the DHEC regulation on use of iron pots, a few restaurants have the black iron pots “grandfathered” in. (This is the case with The Hash House, which opens for holidays and special occasions.) All around Greenwood many individuals still cook their family hash in black pots around holidays such as Fourth of July and Labor Day. At a historic Cannery for the legendary Star Fort hash, Jerry Gantt owns and operates the Ninety-Six Canning Company. It produces “Gantt Bros. Meat Hash”, based on a hash recipe that Gantt’s father cooked during Fourth of July celebrations at the Grendel Mill hash house.

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bullet icon Grendel Mill Hash House (01:48)

Jerry Gantt shows the site of the Grendel Mill hash house. Beth Rembert recalls working at the hash house as a child. Sharon Deas’ father, Charles Flinn, was the hashmaster at the Grendel Mill hash house

bullet icon The Stump Meeting (02:31)

William Jennings Bryan Dorn and his son Johnson Dorn talk of the hash served at “stump meetings” held on W.J.B. Dorn’s estate during his political years

bullet icon Origins Ninety-Six Hash (02:26)

William C. McDaniel, Jr. of Ninety-Six, SC recalls the roots of the famous “Ninety-Six hash”

bullet icon Ninety Six Canning Company (02:31)

Jerry Gantt discusses the recipe used for his packaged “Gantt Bros. Meat Hash”

bullet icon Senator Drummond & the hunt club (04:11)

South Carolina State Senator John Drummond talks about the theft of a hash pot from his hunt club.

bullet icon Ninety Six Mill Village Hash House (02:43)

Senator Drummond shows the remodeled hash house of the old Ninety Six Mill Village.

bullet icon Lower Lake Greenwood VFD Hash (01:54)

Anthony Kelly of the Lower Lake Greenwood Volunteer Fire Department talks about hashmaking

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