HARLEYVILLE -- The iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle might as well be the town's alter ego -- the annual community event is called See Saw Daze Festival & Harleyville Bike Rally.
But alongside the hogs at Saturday's festival, the real Harleys get back in the saddle.
The first-ever reunion of the descendants of William Washington "Cow Bill" Harley is set for the annual festival. Anyone who claims a kinship with the town's founder is invited, and hundreds are expected to turn out at the First United Methodist Church. The reunion will include a trip down the road to Four Holes Swamp, where Harley's Tavern stood for 200 years.
Cow Bill raised cattle in the mid-1800s, drove them from Four Holes Swamp to sell in Charleston -- a trip that took a few days, with men on foot and horseback. He built a peg and timber house some five miles from the swamp.
The house was just past what is now S.C. Highway 453, where he created the upper Dorchester County town named for him, in the timberland he owned.
He deeded rights of way to build a railroad that helped make the town. He sold outlying land for less than 50 cents per acre to bring people to Harleyville, and opened a general store to supply the new settlers.
"If you have a plot of land and aren't too lazy, you will never go hungry," Harley has been quoted as saying. He died in 1906 at 81 years old. He had 11 children and left each land for a "sizable" farm deeded through two generations. With all those children, it would be difficult to cast a net in the upper county today and not pull in someone who claims him as kin.
A family committee organizing the event expects a crowd. Today there are Harleys across the state and the world. One relation, Timothy Walter Harley, now lives in Raumati Beach in New Zealand.
"I'm saying 300. Some people are saying more. We've got family coming from every direction," said Cheryl Albergotti, whose Harley genealogical research led to a smaller reunion that led to this event. "We're bringing everybody back to where they started, where their family started."
The motorcycle's history with the town came along farther down the road. Over the past few decades, "Harleyville Town Limit" signs were swiped one after the other, as a bootleg road- trip souvenir and a piece de resistance to collections of gear with the Harley-Davidson insignia. One of the signs reportedly hung on the wall of a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., biker bar.
In 2003, town officials conceded the inevitable, put copies of the town limit sign on sale at the See Saw Daze Festival, and started a Harley-Davidson poker run. Three years later, festival highlights included a dedication for U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamps featuring classic-model Harleys. Saturday's festival includes a bike show.
Meanwhile, just down the street from the show, the real Harleys rally.