Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fountain Inn in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates

10/11/07 - 12/6/98

 
 
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Southwest image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, July 5, 2008
1. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Southwest
Inscription.
[Southwest]:
Don't look at me in sympathy, I'm glad I'm this way for I feel good and I'm knocking on wood, as long as I can say you just watch me peg it. You can tell by the way I leg it that I'm Peg Leg Bates, the one legged dancing man. I mix like fantastic, but with hot gymnastics I'm Peg Leg Bates, the one legged dancing man.

"Life means, do the best that you can with what you have, with all your mind and heart. One can do anything in this world if one wants to do it badly enough." -- Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates

[Southeast]:
Bronze
Ralph Hendricks

Greenville Metropolitan Art Council

American Legion Post #3

Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Samuel N. Madden, Pastor

Mount Carmel A.M.E. Church
Phillip C. Anderson, Pastor

Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church
Robert E. Dennis, Pastor

Melvin and Dollie Younts

Marilyn Fuller Perry

[Northeast]:
Silver
Fountain Inn Development Corporation

Dorothy A. Berry Chapman

Ruby B. Parks

Rosa S. Epps

[Northwest]:
Gold
Wayne Davis, Mayor
Fountain Inn, SC

Robert E. Dennis, President

Emma Stewart, Mother
Alice Bates, Wife
Melodye
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Southeast image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 17, 2009
2. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Southeast
Bates (Preston) Holden

James T., Annie C. Bates
John W., Vivian D. Bates

Drs. Camille O. and William H. Cosby, Jr.

John Fowler

DeEthel Hicks

Pastor Henry and Evelyn Berry, Jr.

The Reverend Dr. James Moone
The Reverend Dr. Ruby Moone

Willie E. Byrd, Jr.

Richard Dawkins

Beasley Funeral Home, Inc.

 
Location. 34° 41.677′ N, 82° 12.015′ W. Marker is in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street (State Highway 14) and East Fairview Street on North Main Street. Click for map. The statue is located in a park dedicated to famed newspaperman Robert Quillen, who also called Fountain Inn home. The park was once part of the gardens owned by Quillen. Marker is at or near this postal address: 200 North Main Street, Fountain Inn SC 29644, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mrs. Emmie Fulmer (a few steps from this marker); Snow Campaign Chapter Marker (within shouting distance of this marker); Eve (within shouting distance of this marker); Fountain Inn Veterans Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Fountain Inn High School
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Northeast image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 17, 2009
3. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Northeast
(approx. mile away); Fountain Inn Rosenwald School (approx. half a mile away); Old Fountain Inn (approx. one mile away); Charles G. Garrett Interchange (approx. 1.1 miles away); Cherokee Boundary (1767) (approx. 1.1 miles away); Cannon Memorial Park Veterans Monument (approx. 1.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Fountain Inn.
 
Also see . . .
1. Stars of Vaudeville #243: Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates. As the name implies, Peg Leg Bates was a one-legged tap dancer who abjured a modern prosthetic for a Captain Ahab model. (Submitted on October 18, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Peg Leg Bates. Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates (1907 – 1998) was an Afro-American entertainer from Fountain Inn, South Carolina. (Submitted on May 20, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Clayton "PegLeg" Bates - Tap. YouTube video of Bates tap dancing. (Submitted on May 20, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Performer Clayton `Peg Leg' Bates Dies At 91 In South Carolina. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates, the world renowned performer who tap danced his way into
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Northwest image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 17, 2009
4. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates Marker - Northwest
the hearts of millions with his famous wooden peg leg, recently died at his cousin's house in Fountain Inn, SC. (Submitted on May 20, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Peg Leg Bates still dancing and going strong at 87
Jet
November 14, 1994

Famed tap dancer Peg Leg Bates who recently turned 87 years old remains an inspiration to his fans across the country.

He recently celebrated his 87th birthday at a gala salute at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, sponsored by the New York Committee To Celebrate National Tap Dance Day.

Though he uses crutches today to help him stand, he danced a little bit for the audience.

The birthday salute included performances by other veteran tap dancers and screenings of rare video footage of Bates' dance career.

After watching the video footage from his hey-day in the late 40s to the mid 60s, a New York Times critic raved: "His rhythmic dexterity was amazing. So were sequences in which, after a leap into the air, he landed on his peg and then, maintaining his balance, hopped forward with arms outspread."

After the birthday salute Bates told JET in a telephone interview, "I feel great. I'm thankful
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates (1907-1998) image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 17, 2009
5. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates (1907-1998)
that I'm still around and I'm still active," he exclaimed.

Bates retired in 1989 but remains quite popular. Today, he gets applause as a motivational speaker who uses his own career as an example to inspire people to excel despite the odds.

He sold his famed Peg Leg Bates Country Club in the Catskill Mountain resort area in New York in 1989 soon after his wife, Alice died. "She was the brains of the business," he recalls proudly. He lives nearby with his daughter Melodye Bates-Holden.

He and his wife created one of the few resorts for Blacks in then-segregated America, when they opened their country club in 1951.

Bates was born Clayton Bates in Fountain Inn, SC. He lost his left leg in a cotton gin accident when he was 12. An uncle made him a "peg leg," and he became known as Peg Leg Bates.

Today, Bates tells his fans and youngsters that they can beat the odds and turn "a tragedy into an asset."
    — Submitted October 18, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. Performer Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates Dies At 91 In South Carolina
Jet
December 21, 1998

Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates, the world renowned performer who tap danced his way into the hearts of millions with his famous wooden peg leg, recently died at his cousin's
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, July 5, 2008
6. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates
house in Fountain Inn, SC. He was 91.

His cousin, Vivian Bates, at press time, told JET that the cause of death had not yet been determined.

A day prior to his death, Bates had been honored in his home state of South Carolina where he received the state's highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto. Said Vivian Bates, "He told the audience that was the happiest moment of his life."

Dancing since the age of 8, Bates lost his left leg at age 12 after it was mangled in the conveyor belt of a cotton separator where he was working. With no hospital nearby for Blacks, his leg was amputated below the knee on the table in his mother's kitchen.

In spite of the tragedy, Bates kept his dream of becoming a dancer. When his uncle made him a peg leg, Bates developed his own tap style.

He won admiration throughout America and Europe--he gave two command performances before the King and Queen of England. Bates, who appeared on many TV variety shows, including "The Ed Sullivan Show" more than 20 times, had a peg leg to match each of his many suits when entertaining. It was nothing for Bates, whose career spanned more than five decades, to wear out no less than eight wooden legs a year.

"I thank God I lost this leg," he once said. "This might sound strange for you to hear me say, so I think I'd better explain why I feel this way. This leg brought
Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates (1907-1998) image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott
7. Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates (1907-1998)
me fortune and fame. As a matter of fact, that's how I got my name. With this peg I do not have to beg, so I thank God I lost this leg."

Though Bates relied on crutches later in life, he continued to dance well into the age of 80, using his crutches.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Alice Bates, in 1989. Survivors include their daughter, Melodye Bates-Holden.
    — Submitted October 18, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicNotable Persons
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 6,877 times since then and 119 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   6. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   7. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Christopher Busta-Peck was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement