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

"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.

"A" is for Asian Religions

"A" is for the A. M. E. Church

"T" is for Truck Farming

"S" is for Sayre, Christopher Gadsden

"R" Is For the Richardson Waltz

"Y" is for Yarborough, William Caleb [born 1940], Race car driver. A native of Sardis in Florence County, “Cale” Yarborough had an adventurous and daredevil nature that led to his early success on local dirt tracks. In 1957 he lied about his age and raced in his first Southern 500 at Darlington. He soon became a NASCAR legend with a driving career that lasted from 1957 to 1988. As of 2004 he was the only driver to win three successive Winston Cup championships and his 83 victories place him fifth on the all-time win list.

"A" is for Adams, Mattie Jean [1873-1974]. Educator. In 1896, Adams, a native of Utopia in Newberry County, entered the junior class at South Carolina College. Two years later, in 1898, she was awarded a B.A. degree—the first woman to graduate from what is now the University of South Carolina. Adams established herself as a leader in the field of education. For eighteen years she served as the head of the Department of English at Meridian College in Mississippi. From 1900 to 1903 she took a leave of absence to serve as organizer for the South Carolina Women's Christian Temperance Union.

"W" is for the Waccamaw River. Named for the Waccamaw Indians, the river begins at Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina, runs parallel to the coast through Horry and Georgetown counties--never straying more than fifteen miles from the ocean. In Horry County, it runs through the county seat of Conway. The river is navigable from Georgetown to Conway, but its upper reaches are shallow and swampy.

"E" is for Ebenezer Colony. Founded in 1734, Ebenezer is twenty-five miles up the Savannah River on the Georgia side. This unique settlement of Lutheran refugees from Salzburg, Austria, was included in the Lutheran Synod of South Carolina until 1860. Its early inhabitants caught the imagination of many on both sides of the Atlantic because of their courage under persecution, their industry, and their piety. The extensive diaries and correspondence of several Lutheran pastors associated with Ebenezer shed light on the nearby German settlements in South Carolina.