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)

Ways to Connect

"A" is for African Methodist Episcopal Church. The African Episcopal Church [AME] is the oldest African American denomination in the country. In 1817, after white Methodists in Charleston tried to control their worship, 4,000 black Methodists  organized themselves into an AME congregation—the second-largest in the denomination and its southernmost branch. Following the Denmark Vesey conspiracy, the church was demolished and its membership dispersed. In 1863 the denomination returned to South Carolina and became a major presence in the state.

"J" is for Jackson, Joseph Jefferson Wofford [1888-1951]. Baseball Player. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson was reared in the mill villages of Pelzer and Greenville. He never attended school and could neither read nor write.  At thirteen he began to work full-time in the mill and also to play for the mill's baseball team.  In 1908 he turned pro and during the season landed in the majors with the Philadelphia Athletics.

"I" is for the Indian Affairs Commission. The first Indian Affairs Commission was established by the Lords Proprietors in the 1680s, but did not succeed in arbitrating disputes between Indians and European settlers. A later commission, created in 1710 by the Commons House of Assembly was intended primarily to regulate the Indian deerskin trade. Its most noted commissioner was Thomas Nairne.

"H" is for Hagood, Johnson [1829-1898]. Soldier, governor. A native of Barnwell District, he graduated with distinction from the Citadel in 1847 and then studied law. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he was elected colonel of the first South Carolina Regiment of Volunteers. Hagood saw action continuously from the reduction of Fort Sumter in April 1861 to the Battle of Bentonville in March 1865. His gallantry under fire led to his promotion to brigadier general. 

"G" is for the Gadsden Flag, a bright yellow banner with a gray, coiled rattlesnake at its center with the words "Don't Tread on Me" inscribed beneath. Although there had been similar flags since the French and Indian War, this particular flag can be traced to Christopher Gadsden, one of the state's delegates to the First Continental Congress. The rattlesnake in a variety of poses was used to reflect colonial anger and defiance.

"F" is for the Farmer's Alliance. Founded in the 1870s in Texas, the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union and its segregated counterpart the Colored Farmers' National Alliance addressed the issues of debt and depressed commodity prices that most rural Americans faced. The first county alliance in South Carolina was founded in Marion in 1887 and within a year there was a statewide alliance. 

"E" is for Edgefield County [502 square miles; population 24,595]. Edgefield County was created in 1785 out of the southern portion of Ninety Six Judicial District. Originally, the county encompassed 1,702 square miles and was the largest in the state—really more a region than a county. Some of the state's earliest industries were located here: textiles in the Horse Creek Valley and pottery in Pottersville.

"D" is for Darlington County [561 square miles; population 67,394]. Darlington County was crated in 1785 out of the southern one-third of the Cheraws Judicial District. Over the years it lost portions of its territory to Florence and Lee counties. The first European settlers in the area were Welsh Baptists from Pennsylvania who took up land near Society Hill in what was called the Welsh Neck.

"C" is for Camp, Wofford Benjamin [1894–1986]. Agriculturalist, entrepreneur. Bill Camp, a native of Cherokee County, studied agronomy at Clemson—specializing in cotton breeding. In 1917 he joined the US Department of Agriculture's Cotton Section and was sent to California. With the boll weevil ravaging the South, the USDA fostered the culture of cotton west of the Rockies. Camp introduced the long-staple Pima variety in California's San Jauquin Valley, and soon thousands of acres were thriving. California farmers hailed him as their state's “Cotton Man.”

"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.

"S" is for Sirrine, Joseph Emory [1872-1947]. Architect, engineer. After graduating from Furman Sirrine was hired by the New England textile engineering firm Lockwood Green & Company to be the resident engineer for several projects in Greenville. In 1899 the company appointed him as its southern representative, responsible for all the company’s textile construction. Four years later he opened his own business, J.E. Sirrine, Architects and Engineers. The company built mills throughout the southeast as well as schools, churches, tobacco factories, bridges, colleges, and military camps.

"S" is for Sinclair, Bennie Lee [1939-2000]. Novelist, poet. A Greenville native, Sinclair published her first poem at the age of six. The overwhelming critical praise and attention cause her to stop writing for a number of years. In 1986 she was appointed the state’s fifth poet laureate, a position she held for the remainder of her life. She taught writing at Furman and conducted poetry workshops at Notre Dame, Western Carolina, and Brevard College. For twenty-eight years she taught in the schools of South Carolina through the Arts Commission’s Artist-in-Residence program.

"S" is for Sims, James Marion [1813-1883]. Gynecologist, surgeon. A native of Lancaster District, Sims obtained his medical Degree from Jefferson Medical College and then established a practice in Alabama. Between 1844 and 1849 he developed a surgical method for the repair of the debilitating condition known as vesico-vaginal fistula. Among his patients were a number of slave women. Having perfected his surgery in repeated experiments on his slave patients, he moved to New York where he opened a charity hospital to instruct fellow physicians.

"S" is for Simpsonville [Greenville County; population 14,352]. Incorporated in 1901, Simpsonville began many decades earlier as a crossroads hamlet where the Old Stage Road intersected a former Cherokee trail. In 1838, Peter Simpson established a blacksmith operation at the crossroads. Other enterprises soon followed and the settlement became known as Simpsonville. In the mid-1880s, the completion of the Greenville and Laurens Railroad near the town brought growth and development. In 1886, the post office officially became known as Simpsonville.

"S" is for Simons and Lapham. The architectural firm of Simons & Lapham was formed by Albert Simons and Samuel Lapham in 1920. Albert Simons received his degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Lapham obtained his degree in architecture from M.I. T. In the 1920s the firm was busy with commissions for new houses and restorations.

"U" is for Union County [514 square miles; population 29,881]. The General Assembly created the county in 1785 and its boundaries remained the same until 1897 when it lost its two northernmost townships in the creation of Cherokee County. The first Europeans arrived in the 1750s and, to save effort, the various religious denominations built a single place of worship and called it a “union” church—and that was the origin of the county's name.

"T" is for Table Rock in Greenville County. Table Rock is a small mountain that rises 3,197 feet above sea level and has a relatively broad summit shaped like a table, a characteristic that is said to have inspired the name given to it long ago by the Cherokee. Like Caesars Head and Sassafras Mountain, Table Rock was formed nearly 430 million years ago when either a continental fragment or island moved as one tectonic plate slid under another.

"D" is for Daniel, Charles Ezra [1895-1964]. Businessman. U.S. Senator. A native of Georgia, Daniel moved with his family to Anderson where he entered business and would become 20th century South Carolina’s most successful businessman. After service in World War I, he returned home and began building mill houses. In 1934, he established Daniel Construction Company. His firm had a reputation for cost and quality control that won building contracts first in South Carolina, then the South, and eventually around the world.

"C" is for Calhoun, John Caldwell [1782-1850]. Congressman, secretary of war, secretary of state, vice president of the United States, United States senator.  In 1810, Calhoun won a seat in Congress, thus beginning a long, distinguished, and controversial career in national politics. He was President Monroe's secretary of war and later vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Resigning from office, Calhoun was elected to the U.S. Senate where he became a national figure.

"B" is for Baldwin, William Plews, III [born 1944]. Novelist. Born in McClellandville, Baldwin was reared in the Carolina lowcountry. He is a “would-be” architect with two degrees from Clemson—one in history and the other in English. After college, he returned to McClellanville where he has made a living by crabbing, oystering, shrimping,  serving as a magistrate, writing screenplays for Hollywood, and writing fiction. His first novel, The Hard to Catch Mercy [1993] was universally well-received.

"A" is for the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1990, the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is part of the federal system of refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge represents the federal role in the larger ACE Basin Project with units on the Combahee and Edisto Rivers. The headquarters is located at the Grove, an early nineteenth-century plantation house. With a total of nearly 12,000 acres, the refuge is managed for wildlife with careful attention given to habitat preservation.

"Y" is for Yeamans, Sir John [1611-1674]. Governor. Yeamans was born in Bristol, England and was a Royalist officer during the English Civil War. In 1659, he and other Royalists fled to Barbados where he became a large landowner, judge and member of the council. After his business partner died under mysterious circumstances, he lost no time in marrying the wealthy widow. In 1665 Yeamans briefly led then abandoned the settlers of the unsuccessful colony at Cape Fear. The Lords Proprietors named him the third Landgrave of Carolina.

"W" is for Walhalla

Jan 4, 2017

"W" is for Walhalla, a town in Oconee County [population 3,801].  Founded in 1850, Walhalla drew its name from the Norse mythology and means “Garden of the Gods.” The earliest settlers were German immigrants, members of the German Colonization Society, who purchased thousands of acres in Pickens District and established the little town. Located on a ridge at the foot of Stumphouse Mountain, St. John’s Lutheran Church was one of the first buildings in the attractive village of four hundred. During the Civil War the town became a haven for lowcountry refugees.

"V" is for Verner, Elizabeth O'Neill [1883-1979]. Artist. A native of Charleston, Verner attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Returning home, she was active in numerous art organizations such as the Charleston Etcher' Club and the Southern States Art League. She emerged as a leading figure of the Charleston Renaissance alongside her mentor, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. Early in her career she focused on etchings of Charleston street scenes that depicted the city's architectural heritage and its African-American residents.

"U" is for the Union Daily Times, a daily evening newspaper with a circulation of 6,355, published in the city of Union. The paper claimed to be the county's oldest enterprise as the successor to the weekly Unionville Journal that began publishing in 1850. The Journal later became the Times, but its editorial philosophy did not: it was a radical states' rights publication with the masthead notice: “The Constitution as our fathers gave it, or separate independence.” The newspaper survived the Civil War and several name changes.

"F" is for Fraiser, Joseph William

"E" is for the Enterprise Railroad

"D" is for the Dock Street Theatre

"C" is for Chalmers, Lionel

"B" is for Bennett, Thomas, Jr.