Walter Edgar

Host

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his A.B. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens. In 1972 he joined the faculty of the History Department and in 1980 was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies. Dr. Edgar is the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies and the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History. He retired from USC in 2012. He has written or edited numerous books about South Carolina and the American South, including South Carolina: A History, the first new history of the state in more than 60 years. With more than 37,000 copies in print and an audio edition, it has been a publishing phenomenon. Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution is in its fourth printing. He is also the editor of the South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Ways to Connect

D.W. Griffith, director (1923)
Library of Congress

How did the American South contribute to the development of cinema? And how did film shape the modern South? In Fade In, Crossroads: A History of the Southern Cinema (2017, Oxford University Press), Robert Jackson tells the story of the relationships between southerners and motion pictures from the silent era through the golden age of Hollywood. Jackson talks with Walter Edgar about the profound consequences of the coincidence of the rise and fall of the American film industry with the rise and fall of the Jim Crow era.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Gregg, Maxcy (1814-1862). Soldier. After graduating as co-valedictorian of his class at South Carolina College, Gregg read law and was admitted to the bar. He was a member of the Southern Rights Convention in 1852. As a Richland County delegate to the 1860 Secession Convention, he assisted in the writing of the Ordinance of Secession. Shortly after the convention he became commander of the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"B" is for Barringer Building [in Columbia]. Located on Main Street, the Barringer Building was Columbia's first skyscraper; Built in 1903, the skyscraper was initially home to the National Loan and Exchange Bank. However, the property derives its name from the Barringer Corporation that operated there from 1953 to 1974. Architecturally, the Barringer Building draws its inspiration from the Chicago School of Design. Basically, the building is a column. The first two floors constitute a rusticated base.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"A" is for Allen, Gilbert Bruce [b. 1951]. Poet, fiction writer, educator. A native New Yorker, Allen moved to South Carolina in 1977—becoming an English professor at Furman. His first collection of poetry, In Everything: poems, 1927-1979 appeared in 1982 and was followed by three other volumes. In 1991, with fellow Furman English professor William E. Rogers, Allen became co-founder and co-editor of Ninety-Six Press. Focusing primarily on the works of South Carolina poets, the press has produced more than a dozen books.

"W" is for Wellford

Oct 31, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"W" is for Wellford [Spartanburg County; population 2,030] Located in west-central Spartanburg County between the North and Middle Tyger Rivers, Wellford was once part of the hunting grounds of the Cherokee Nation. For most of the 19th century the future site of Wellford remained a settlement of scattered farms. After the 1876 arrival of the Danville and Richmond Railroad, a depot and water tank were constructed beside the tracks—and soon businesses followed. Homes, churches and schools soon followed.

Image of Gen. Andrew Pickens, 1739 - 1817. A photo of an oil painting hung in Fort Hill in Clemson, South Carolina.
blahedo [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

In his new book, The Life and Times of General Andrew Pickens: Revolutionary War Hero, American Founder (2017, UNC Press), Dr. Rod Andrew, Jr., of Clemson University, explores the life of the hard-fighting South Carolina militia commander of the American Revolution, was the hero of many victories against British and Loyalist forces. In this book, Andrew offers an authoritative and comprehensive biography of Pickens the man, the general, the planter, and the diplomat.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Salley, Alexander Samuel [1871-1961]. Historian. A Citadel graduate, Salley developed a fascination for local historical records. From that time forward, he wrote continuously on South Carolina topics, producing countless articles and over 100 monographs. In 1899 Salley became the Secretary, treasurer, and librarian, at the South Carolina Historical Society. The discovery of long-lost revolutionary war records led him to campaign for the proper custody and care of these priceless materials.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Greer, Bernard Eugene (b. 1948). Author. While working as a prison guard at Columbia's notorious Central Correctional Institution, Greer took creative writing classes at USC and later earned an MA in creative writing from Hollins College. He then worked on a fishing boat in Maine. During a long Maine winter, he began to forge his experiences as a prison guard into Slammer, his first novel. It was a critical and popular success.

"D" is for Dispensary

Oct 26, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"D" is for Dispensary. In 1892 South Carolina created the Dispensary, a liquor monopoly. In the early 1890s the state was poised to adopt statewide prohibition. Governor Benjamin Tillman, however, pressured the legislature to pass instead his proposal for state liquor monopoly legislation. Basing his idea on European models, Tillman portrayed the dispensary as a compromise between the private sale of liquor prohibition that would promote temperance and clean up politics. Counties could choose either to have a dispensary or prohibition.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"D" is for Dispensary"C" is for Catawba Pottery. Among the Catawba Indians in present-day York County, an unbroken chain of pottery production has helped preserve a cultural identity that was nearly lost after European settlement. Traditionally, women made pottery; but when the population fell to less than a hundred  in1849, everybody had to make pottery. This activity has helped maintain community traditions and is now one of the purest folk art forms in the United States. Production methods have not changed much since around 600 C.E.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"B" is for Beech Island [Aiken County; population 4,834]. Named for the beech trees growing in the wetlands of the nearby Savannah River swamp—and possibly a dead river island—Beech Island began in the 1680s as the Indian trading post, Savano Town. In 1716, the British constructed Fort Moore at Savano Town to protect the upcountry trade routes and to guard the western entrance to the colony. With the creation of New Windsor Township, offers of free land attracted European immigrants. Among them were a group of Swiss settlers recruited by John Tobler.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"A" is for Archdale, John [1642-1717]. Proprietor. Governor. In 1664 Archdale was in New England. In 1681 he purchased a share of the Carolina Proprietorship in trust for his son Thomas Archdale. From 1683 to 1686 he served as Governor of North Carolina in the absence of Seth Sothel. In August 1694 his fellow proprietors chose him to be governor of the Carolinas and he arrived in Charleston the following year. He had been given broad discretion to settle the factionalism that had made governing South Carolina difficult.

(Originally broadcast 05/19/17) South Carolina native "Princess" Pamela Strobel ruled a small realm, but her powers ranged far and wide. Her speakeasy-style restaurant in Manhattan was for three decades a hip salon, with regulars from Andy Warhol to Diana Ross. Her iconic Southern dishes influenced chefs nationwide, and her cookbook became a bible for a generation who yearned for the home cooking left behind in the Great Migration. One of the earliest books to coin soul food, this touchstone of African-American cuisine fell out of print more than forty years ago.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"M" is for Manigault, Gabriel [1704-1781]. Merchant, legislator. Born in Charleston, Manigault rose from relatively modest origins to become the leading merchant and private banker in colonial South Carolina. He operated retail shops and also owed several trading vessels. He never had business partners and preferred to conduct business by himself. Manigault also had extensive real estate holdings in the Charleston area. He held a number of public positions including that of public treasurer. Twice, he declined appointment to the Royal Council.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Pike, John Martin [1840-1932]. Clergyman, editor, publisher. A Canadian and ordained Methodist clergyman, Pike was invited to preach at Columbia’s Washington Street Methodist Church. He moved to the state and served churches in in Lynchburg, Sumter, Summerville, and Charleston. In 1893 he became editor of a periodical, The Way of Faith.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"L" is for the Lancaster Courthouse and Jail. During the 1820s, the noted architect Robert Mills designed at least 14 courthouses and 14 jails throughout the state. The Lancaster courthouse and jail are among the best surviving examples of his work from this period. The two-story brick courthouse is set on a raised basement and is characterized by Palladian symmetry and features a pedimented portico with modified Tuscan columns. The vaulted ground story has walls two feet thick. The courthouse has remained in use since its construction.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"M" is for McNair, Robert Evander [1923-2007]. Attorney, legislator, governor. After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II, McNair graduated from USC and moved to Allendale—the hometown of his wife, Josephine. From 1951 until 1963 he represented Allendale County in the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1962 he was elected lieutenant governor. When Governor Donald Russell resigned in April 1965, McNair became governor. He was elected to a full term in 1966.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"K" is for Kiawah Island in Charleston County. Kiawah is a small barrier island situated south of Charleston between the mouths of the Stono and North Edisto Rivers. It is named for the Kiawah Indians who at one time lived in the vicinity. In 1719 the island became the property of John Stanyarne who cleared land for indigo production and built a sizable mansion. His granddaughters inherited the property in 1772 and it descended for nearly two centuries through the Vanderhorst family who planted sea island cotton.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"L" is for Loggerhead Turtle. State Reptile. The loggerhead turtle, a threatened species, is one of the world’s eight living species of turtles--and evolved some sixty-five to seventy million years ago. At birth, hatchlings are about two inches long. Adults can weight between 200 and250 pounds. The animal is reddish brown and yellow and has a distinctive large head—the source of its name--with powerful jaws enabling it to crush clams, crustaceans, and other food. Its great size and hard shell protect adult turtles from most predators.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"J" is for Jasper, William [d. 1779] Soldier. On July 7, 1775, William Jasper enlisted in the elite grenadier company of the Second South Carolina Continental Regiment. During the battle of Sullivans Island on June 28, 1776, he was a sergeant and won lasting fame. When an enemy shot brought down the fort's flag, he restored the banner under heavy enemy fire. In 1779 he led dangerous guerrilla raids against British pickets and patrols. During the Franco-American attack on the British lines around Savannah in October 1779, Jasper received a mortal wound.

"H" is for Highway 301

Oct 17, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"H" is for Highway 301. Construction of this major US highway in South Carolina began in 1932, when the federal government began taking over the maintenance and construction of many state roads. The route began in Baltimore, Maryland and ended in Sarasota, Florida—crossing through many towns in eastern South Carolina: including Dillon, Latta, Florence, Manning, Olanta, Sumerton, Bamberg, and Allendale. From the North Carolina border to the Savannah River, Highway 301 covers a distance of approximately 180 miles.

"I" is for Inman Mills

Oct 16, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"I" is for Inman Mills. Inman Mills began in 1902 when James A. Chapman opened a four-hundred-loom and 15,000-spindle plant in the Spartanburg County town on Inman. The mill made high quality greige—cloth that comes straight from the loom and is gray, rough, and full of blemishes. By 1909 the plant had doubled its capacity. The company's success prompted further expansion—including the acquisition of other mills and replacing the 19th century mill with three modern plants—one in Inman and two in Enoree.

South Carolina's Constitution of 1861 underwent a lamination preservation process. Archivists no longer use the process after it was realized the laminate material degrades into an acid, doing more damage to the documents.
Cooper McKim/SC Public Radio

Millions of historic documents in the U.S., from presidential papers to personal slave journals, are facing an issue apart from age: a preservation method that has backfired. The process of laminating documents between sheets of cellulose acetate film, widely practiced from the 1950s through the 1970s, has now been determined to actually contribute to the deterioration of acid-containing paper.

"D" is for Drovers

Oct 16, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"D" is for Drovers. From around 1800 until the 1880s, livestock from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina were driven through Greenville County to the seaport at Charleston—destined for markets in the north and in the Caribbean. These drives were made possible by the completion of a road from Greenville County across the mountains into Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 1790s.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"R" is for Ransier, Alonzo Jacob [1834-1882]. Lieutenant governor, congressman. Born in Charleston to free persons of color, Ransier acquired a common school education, and clerked in a Charleston shipping firm. After the Civil War he became active in politics and was elected to the General Assembly from Charleston County. In 1868 he became chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee and also served as a presidential elector for Ulysses S. Grant. In 1870 he was elected lieutenant governor and two years later represented the Second District in the United States Congress.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"M" is for Marlboro County [480 square miles; population 28,818]. Marlboro County was formed in 1785 and named for the Duke of Marlborough. Its boundaries have remained virtually unchanged since then: bounded on the west by the Great Pee Dee River; on the north and northeast by North Carolina; and on the Southeast by Dillon County. Prior to European settlement, Cheraw Indians lived in the area. During the 1730s, generous land policies attracted Welsh settlers from Pennsylvania. The county's rich loamy soils have produced a variety of crops including corn, indigo, and cotton.

An advertisement for the fair appears in the Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), October 18, 1905.
South Carolina Digital Newspaper Room/https://library.sc.edu/blogs/newspaper/

With October come two certainties: Trick-or-Treaters will be abroad on the 31st, and the South Carolina State Fair will attract thousands to Columbia.  In this edition of Walter Edgar's Journal, from May 5, 2016, Dr.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Palmetto Bug. Three hundred million years ago, cockroaches [or palmetto bugs] made their first appearance on earth. While thousands of species have developed and become extinct since then, the cockroach thrives. The palmetto bug is the largest of three different species of cockroaches that infest our homes. It may grow to be one and a half inches in length and has reddish-brown wings. Both males and females have fully developed wings and can run fast and fly. A single female can produce 150 offspring in a year.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"L" is for LeConte, Joseph [1823-1901]. Geologist. Educator. After graduating from the University of Georgia, LeConte studied medicine in New York. Returning to Georgia, he established a medical practice in Macon. He later studied natural history at Harvard and became a faculty member at his alma mater. In 1856 he joined the faculty of the South Carolina College as professor of natural history. He was popular with students, took an active part in the cultural life of Columbia, and published articles on geology, religion, art, and education.

"O" is for Oliphant, Mary Chevillette Simms [1891-1988]. Historian. Born in Barnwell County, Mary C. Simms Oliphant was the granddaughter of novelist and historian William Gilmore Simms. In 1917 the state superintendent of education asked her to update her grandfather's history for use as a textbook. It was adopted and revised every five years until 1932 when Oliphant wrote her own school text, The Simms History of South Carolina—which went through nine editions and was used in the state's schools until 1985.

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