I’m sure most of you know the stories of Booger Jim that float around Blacksburg, SC. There are at least five urban legends involving him here, and that’s only the ones I know of. All of the stories conflict with each other, but all of them make for good campfire conversation.
One of the legends state that he is a haunt of the Highway 29 bridge over the English Broad River. He was said to have been hung until dead over the waters there. Another states that he haunts the Nazareth Church Cemetary on 99 Island Road. He is said to be headless there and to carry a lantern light.
In a third legend, he is said to be a very much alive South Carolina Bigfoot that hangs out in the woods of Cherokee Falls, around the old Mill village. The fourth legend places him at the cliff over the Broad River in Cherokee Falls. It is said that if you stop your car and get out on a dark night, then call out his name, he will appear as an apparition and chase you. No one ever seems to be able to do it properly though, because you have to turn your car off, put the keys on the roof, and call out his name a specific number of times.
I heard a fifth legend that sounded more truthful. It claimed that Jim was a harmless old hermit of the olden days. He allegedly stole chickens, but never harmed a soul, but the children feared him, so their mothers began to use him as a means to make their children behave. “You better behave or Booger Jim will get you!”
No one really knows which one is truly the official myth with the clearest origin, so I decided to dig through old newspapers in an attempt to find it. Unfortunately, I could not find anything definitive in the mass of historical articles available, but I did find clues.
I found references to a “Booger Jim” Ramsey, who played baseball locally in Blacksburg during the 1930’s. I also found a much more promising local who used to be called “Uncle Jim” West. He lived in the Cherokee Falls mill village in 1925, and had lived there since the ground was cleared for the village.
In 1925, Uncle Jim was 80 years old, and he was featured in the newspapers for his trip to Gaffney town to pick up his pension check for his service as a Negro veteran of the Civil War. He impressed the local paper because the pension trip was the first time he had left Cherokee Falls in 45 years.
Jim West had been born in Iredell County, NC, and he followed the war and a grading job with the Southern Railroad into Cherokee County. He helped to clear the land for the mill village of Cherokee Falls and worked for many years in the Henrietta Mill No. 3 there. He married there, fathered 12 children there, and presumably died there.
“Uncle Jim” was a real man with a real life, but perhaps he contributed to the legendary folk figure of “Booger Jim”. In the romantic imagination, it could be imagined that this man, who loved Cherokee Falls so much in life, refused to leave even in death. The origins of the Booger Jim Legend of Blacksburg (and interestingly, of Spartanburg, SC as well) may remain a mystery for all time.
“Fox, New Pitcher, to start on Mound Today” The Gaffney Ledger, June 27, 1936. Feb. 18, 2019 <www.newspapers.com>
“45 Years Elapse Between Visits”, The Gaffney Ledger, June 23, 1925. Feb. 18, 2019 <www.newspapers.com>