South Carolina from A to Z

Mon-Fri, throughout the day

From Hilton Head to Caesars Head, and from the Lords Proprietors to Hootie and the Blowfish, historian Walter Edgar mines the riches of the South Carolina Encyclopedia to bring you South Carolina from A to Z. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

South Carolina from A to Z Archives (April 2011 to Sept 2014)

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"H" is for Highway 301

Oct 17, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
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"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
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"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.

"D" is for Drovers

Oct 16, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
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"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.

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"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.

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"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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"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.

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"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.

"J" is for Johns Island Presbyterian Church. The Johns Island Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in South Carolina. Scots minister Archibald Stobo founded the congregation in 1710.The first church, of cypress siding and shingles, was erected in 1719 and remodeled in 1792. In 1822-1823, it was replaced by the present structure—a fine example of wood churches of the Federal period. It bears many similarities to contemporary Episcopal churches, including clear glass windows with semi-circular windows above.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"N" is for National Guard. The South Carolina National Guard evolved out of the state’s militia. In 1905 the organized militia was renamed the South Carolina National Guard and in 1916 all state militias were converted into a national reserve force.  Guardsmen were activated for the campaign along the Mexican border in 1916. During World War I, most guardsmen were used as replacement personnel. In 1940, the first guard units were federalized and by February 1941 the entire force had been mobilized. Following the war, the Guard was reorganized and gained an air arm, the Air National Guard.

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"I" is for Isle of Palms [Charleston County; population 4,583]. For all but the last one hundred years, the Isle of Palms was uninhabited. Its palmetto jungles abounded in game and its first name was "Hunting Island" because coastal Indians hunted there. In the early 18th century, pirates called it "Long Island." In 1898, the island began its modern transformation when a local company constructed a beachside resort with a boardwalk, amusement park, bathhouse, and dance pavilion. Renamed the Isle of Palms, the resort was connected to Charleston by ferry and an interurban railway.

"M" is for Malaria

Oct 9, 2017
South Carolina From A to Z
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"M" is for Malaria. Malaria was arguably the most significant disease in the history of South Carolina from the colonial period until the early 20th century. It is a parasitic infection caused by protozoa known as plasmodia and transmitted by anopheles mosquitoes. There are two types of disease: one introduced with European settlers in the 1670s and a more virulent form that came with the importation of large numbers of West Africans in the 18th century.  During the 19th century malaria became a major health problem in much of the state, especially along river valleys.

"H" is for Happyville

Oct 9, 2017
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"H" is for Happyville. Happyville was a short-lived agricultural colony settled in 1905 near Montmorenci in Aiken County by Jewish immigrants from Russia. The state established an immigration bureau that published a brochure in Yiddish and German described the state as "the Garden Country of America." Jewish New Yorkers thought it would be an opportunity to help Russian Jews escape persecution.

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"S" is for St. Mark's Parish. In the 1730s lowcountry planters began moving inland and petitioned to have the inland area separated into a new entity—Prince Frederick Parish. Beginning in 1750, an influx of new settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia moved into Prince Frederick and soon the frontiersmen outvoted the lowcountry planters. In 1757, St. Mark's, the colony’s first—and largest-- backcountry parish was created as much to protect established lowcountry interests as to promote those of the emerging backcountry.

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"R" is for Ravenel, Harriott Horry Rutledge [1832-1912]. Novelist. Biographer. Historian. A Charleston native, Harriott Horry Rutledge attended Madame Talvande's female academy. She married St. Julien Ravenel and had nine children. Though she wrote poetry, essays, and stories on a variety of subjects, her major works focused on Southern history and manners. Her most successful novel was Ashurst: or "The Days That Are Not," which fondly depicted antebellum lifestyles and landscapes.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for the Paper and pulpwood industry. The first paper mill in South Carolina was operating in Columbia by 1806. Over the next fifty years, other mills opened including the Bath Paper Mill near Edgefield. By 1893 James Lide Coker of Hartsville had organized the first company in the state to make wood pulp for paper production on a commercial scale. That mill evolved into SONOCO. By the middle of the 1930s, with the arrival of WESTVACO in Charleston County and International Paper in Georgetown, paper manufacturing assumed an important place in the state's economy.

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"O" is for Operation Lost Trust. Operation Lost Trust was arguably South Carolina's largest and longest-running political scandal. The key player in the FBI's investigation into legislative corruption was Ron Cobb, a lobbyist and former member of the S.C. House of Representatives. After being arrested by the FBI on a drug charge, he cooperated with them and told legislators he represented a group seeking support for legalizing dog- and horse-track betting in the state.

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"N" is for New Ellenton [Aiken County; population 2,250]. Initially called North Ellenton prior to its incorporation, New Ellenton was an offspring of the Cold War and considered by many locals to have been "the first victim of the H-bomb." Incorporated in 1952, the town was the reincarnation of the town of Ellenton—a depot on the Port Royal Railroad.

"E" is for Erskine College. In 1836 the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church organized an academy in Due West. A professor of divinity was added the next year and the institution was incorporated as Clark and Erskine Seminary. With more faculty added in 1839, it became the first four-year denominational college in the state. About 1843 the name was shortened to Erskine College and the theological seminary became an adjunct of the college. The school took its name from the 18th century Scottish theologian and reformer, Ebenezer Erskine.

"D" is for Donaldson Air Base. Early in World War II, the US Army Air Corps leased more than two thousand acres of land from the city and county of Greenville to construct what was then known as the Greenville Army Air Base, with barracks, hangers, and related buildings to train B-25 crews. The base was deactivated at the end of the war, but in 1946 was reconstituted as the headquarters of the nation’s Troop Carrier Command [later called the Military Air Transport Command]. Its planes played roles in the 1948 Berlin Airlift and during the crisis in the Belgian Congo a decade later.

"C" is for Chapin, Sarah Flournoy Moore [ca. 1830-1896]. Temperance leader; social reformer. Known as Sallie F. Chapin, she became one of South Carolina's most visible 19th century women leaders. During the Civil War, she served as president of the Soldier’s Relief Society and after the war as leader of the Ladies Christian Association. In 1880 she organized the first local chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in South Carolina in Charleston.

"B" is for Berkeley County [1,098 sq. miles; population 142,651]. Created on May 10, 1682, Berkeley was one of South Carolina's first three counties. It was named for two of the Lords Proprietors, Lord John Berkeley Sir William Berkeley. At that time Charleston served as the county’s seat of justice. Over the next two centuries the boundaries and organization of the Berkeley County area underwent several alterations. With the abolishment of the parish system in 1865, Berkeley became part of Charleston County.

"B" is for the Bank of the State of South Carolina. The General Assembly chartered the Bank of the State of South Carolina in 1812—giving it the power to circulate currency and to act as the fiscal agent of the state. The main branch was located in Charleston, but by 1860 there were branches in Abbeville, Camden, Columbia, and Georgetown; the bank also had business agents in global financial centers such as New York and Liverpool.

"T" is for Tabby

Sep 22, 2017

"T" is for Tabby. Tabby is a building material consisting of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water that is poured into a wooden mold and then tamped down. It is then left to harden for several days, after which the molds are removed and reused—with successive layers of a wall being built one on top of another until the structure reaches the desired height. With brick and stone scarce along the coast and on the Sea Islands, tabby became a durable, low-cost material for fortifications, houses, outbuildings, stores, and churches.

"S" is for Saint Andrew's Parish. In 1706, when the Commons House made the Church of England the colony's official church, St. Andrew's was among the ten parishes created by that act. It originally included the mainland region south and west of Charleston along the Ashley River as well as James Island. Parishes in South Carolina served a political as well as a religious function. Due to the growing profitability of rice cultivation and subsequent population growth, the parish was subdivided in 1717, with the upper territory surrounding the upper Ashley River becoming St.

"R" is for the R. L. Bryan Company. The publishing firm of R.L. Bryan Company is Columbia's oldest industry. In 1844 Richard Lathan Bryan of Charleston opened a newsstand and stationery shop on what is now Main Street. After the Civil War the company added a printing department and in 1898 began printing the bills and journals of the General Assembly. In the early 20th century, R.L. Bryan became the state's textbook distributor—a function it still manages—and also entered the office furniture and supply market.

"Q" is for Quakers

Sep 19, 2017

"Q" is for Quakers. The Society of Friends [more commonly known as Quakers] has had a fragmented history in South Carolina. Quakerism came to South Carolina in the 1670s with the founding of the Charleston Meeting---the organizational unit of the Society. Other Quaker communities were established near Camden and in what is now Newberry County. As a matter of belief, Quakers opposed violence and slavery. After 1800, with the spread of slavery into the backcountry, many Quakers left the state for slave-free Ohio.

"P" is for Pacific Mills. Pacific Mills began in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1850. In  1915, in order to expand its operations it purchased four mills on the outskirts of Columbia. Known collectively as Columbia Pacific Mills, they included Olympia, Granby, Richland, and Capital City Mills. In the 1920s, Olympia Mill had the largest spinning room in the world with more than 100,000 spindles. The massive output of the Columbia mills made Pacific the world's largest manufacturer of percale.

"O" is for Ottolengui, Rodrigues [1861-1937]. Orthodontist. Lepidopterist. Editor. Novelist. After attending the College of Charleston, Ottolengui moved to New York City to apprentice under some of the nation's leading dental surgeons. He became interested in orthodontics, was the author of dental textbook, for forty years was the editor of a dental periodical, Dental Items of Interest. An avid reader of detective stories, he was a pioneer in the field of forensic dentistry and wrote at least five mystery novels—some of which were published abroad.

"N" is for Niernsee, John Randolph [1823-1885] and Niernsee, Francis McHenry [1849-1899]. Architects. John Niernsee was the principal architect for the design and construction of the South Carolina State House. His son Frank followed in his father's footsteps by finishing the interior of the State House and operating a successful architectural practice in Columbia. In 1855 the elder Niernsee came to take charge of the troubled new State House project, but his work stopped by the Civil War.

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