South Carolina from A to Z

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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 Hookworm

Jan 24, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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"H" is for Hookworm. In the early 1900s Charles W. Stiles identified a worm, Necator americanis, as the source of an infection that plagued the American South. Nurtured in damp soil, hookworm caused severe anemia, stunted growth, and often mental retardation in victims. What made Necator most threatening was its soaring infection rate (in parts of South Carolina it ranged as high as thirty-five percent). The starting point of infection was the lack of sanitary privies in most of the rural and mill village South--picked up by barefooted Southerners.

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"L" is for Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle & Wolff. Founded in 1946 by William Gordon Lyles and known widely as LBC&W, the firm developed into the premier architectural, engineering and planning concern in South Carolina and the Southeast by the 1950s and remained so well into the 1970s. The other principals of the firm were Thomas J. Bissett, William A. Carlisle, and Louis M. Wolff—all Clemson architectural graduates and World War II veterans.

"L" is for Lutherans

Jan 22, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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"L" is for Lutherans. While Lutherans are the third largest Protestant denomination in the United States, their numbers have never been large in the South. In South Carolina, Lutherans make up less than two percent of the population, with highest concentrations in Newberry and Lexington Counties. Among Protestants, Lutherans typically give greater weight to the historic (“catholic”) tradition going back to the ancient church and conduct a liturgy of worship that stands in continuity with that tradition. South Carolina Lutherans formed their own synod in 1824.

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"E" is for Ensor, Joshua Fulton [1834-1907]. Physician. A Maryland native, Ensor had a distinguished career as a surgeon in the Union Army. After the Civil War, he became active in Republican Party politics. He moved to South Carolina and was appointed superintendent of the South Carolina Lunatic Aylum. Ensor was appalled by the condition of the facility when he assumed his duties, claiming that the buildings were overcrowded, poorly ventilated and heated, and unsanitary.

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"D" is for Doby, Lawrence Edward [1923-2003]. Baseball Player. Larry Doby was the first African American to play baseball in the American League and the second African American to manage a major league team. He was born in Camden but moved with his family to New Jersey in 1938. He played four seasons with the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues. In 1947 he was signed by the Cleveland Indians. In his thirteen year career, he batted .238, with 253 home runs, and 969 runs batted in. He was a seven-time All-Star, led the American League in home runs in 1952 and 1954.

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"C" is for Central [Pickens County; population 3,522]. The town of Central came into being when the Atlantic and Richmond Air Line [later the Southern Railroad] laid a track through Pickens County in 1873. The location of the future town was midway between Atlanta and Charlotte and the company chose the site to locate it repair operations. “Central Station” contained shops for railway workers, and engines were refueled and changed using a roundtable. A depot, residences,  and stores soon opened thereafter. In 1875 the town was incorporated.

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"B" is for Bennett, Thomas, Jr. [1781-1865]. Governor. Beginning as his father’s partner, Bennett built a lucrative lumber and rice mill business in Charleston. A prominent lowcountry entrepreneur, he held business positions that included director of the South Carolina Homespun Company, director of the Bank of the State of South Carolina, and director of the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston Railroad. He was active in the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and also served as mayor of the city. He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and served as its speaker.

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“A" is for Ashwood Plantation. Located in Lee County,  the Ashwood Plantation Project was established as a resettlement site for tenant farmers displaced during the Great Depression. In 1934, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration [FERA] acquired 7,000 acres south of Bishopville, including the 2,200-acre Ashwood Plantation of former governor Richard I. Manning. Other parcels ultimately raised the total to 11,000 acres. Project directors planned to settle about 200 families at Ashwood.

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"E" is for Edwards, William Augustus [1866-1939]. Architect. Edwards began his career in Virginia, but, moved back to South Carolina as a partner in the firm of Wilson and Edwards. Edwards was the lead partner in several other architectural firms in South Carolina and, after 1908, in Atlanta.

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"D" is for DeKalb, Johann [1712-1780]. Soldier. Born in Bavaria, DeKalb rose to the rank of brigadier-general in the French Army and decided to seek his military fortune in America. He was contracted as a major-general in the Continental Army and, along with Lafayette, arrived off the coast South Carolina, near Georgetown, in 1777.

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"C" is for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1932 as a wintering ground for migratory waterfowl. Located in Charleston County Cape Romain stretches 22 miles along the coast between Charleston and the Santee River delta. In its shallow bays, tides combine the life-giving nourishment of the oceans with the nutrient-laden freshwaters of rivers to create a rich, productive environment.

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"B" is for Brewton, Miles [ca. 1765-1769]. A native Charlestonian, Brewton’s powerful family was allied to banking, enabling him to establish a career in finance and trade. Twice during the 1750s, he traveled to England to finish his education and establish commercial ties. Between 1756 and his death, Brewton conducted business in several partnerships and was part-owner in eight commercial vessels. His partnerships dealt largely with the exportation of domestic produce, but he also made substantial profits in the slave trade.

"A" is for Asparagus

Jan 8, 2018
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"A" is for Asparagus. Asparagus was an important cash crop in South Carolina from the 1910s until the mid-1930s.With cotton prices low and the boll weevil creeping closer, farmers in the "Ridge" counties of Aiken, Edgefield, and Saluda began planting asparagus to supplement declining cotton income. By 1916 they had organized as Asparagus Growers Association and shipped 44 railroad carloads to northern markets. High prices during World War I led farmers in neighboring counties to plant the vegetable.

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"A" is for Atwater, Harvey LeRoy [1951-1991]. Political Adviser. Born in Atlanta, Atwater was reared in Columbia. A graduate of Newberry College, he received an MA in mass communications from USC. He spent much of his early career managing campaigns for prominent South Carolinians Carroll Campbell, Floyd Spence, and Strom Thurmond. In these elections he gained a reputation as a shrewd, yet negative campaigner, willing to use almost any tactic to help his candidate.

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"E" is for Enterprise Railroad. Chartered in 1870, with a capital of $250,000, this railroad is unique in South Carolina history: with one exception its initial board of directors were all African Americans. Constructed in 1874, the railroad used horse-drawn carriages to passengers and freight, connecting wharves and railroad depots throughout the city of Charleston. The railroad created tension within Charleston’s black community as 75% of the city’s draymen were African American. They feared the company would diminish their business.

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"C" is for Chalmers, Lionel [1715-1777]. Physician. Scientist. A native of Scotland, Chalmers was in Charleston in 1737 where he established a modest practice. In 1740 he entered into partnership with Dr. John Lining. Lining had been recording weather data for years. Between 1750 and 1759 Chalmers compiled his own series of meteorological records. Later he combined Lining’s records with his in his best known work, An Account of the Weather and Diseases in South Carolina—published in London in 1776.

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"B" is for Bennett, Thomas, Jr. [1781-1865]. Governor. With his father, Bennett built a lucrative lumber and rice mill business in Charleston. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce and served as a director of the Bank of the State of South Carolina, and the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston Railroad. He was mayor of Charleston and served six terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives—and was its Speaker. He was elected to the State Senate in 1819, but resigned a year later when he was elected Governor.

"W" is for Wright, Mary Honor Farrow [1862-1946]. Educator. Born into slavery in Spartanburg County, Wright received her early education from northern teachers who came to South Carolina after the Civil War. In 1879, after graduating from Claflin University, she accepted her first teaching position in Inman, where she held classes in a brush arbor. She later organized schools and taught in mill villages and churches in Spartanburg and Saxon. In 1904 she organized a school in her home for black children who were to young to walk to the nearest black school.

"M" is for Magrath, Andrew Gordon [1813-1893]. Jurist, governor. After graduating from the South Carolina College, Magrath studied law at Harvard and with James L. Petigru. In 1856 his appointment as a federal district judge brought him national attention and controversy. In the cases surrounding two ships seized for being slave traders—the Echo and the Wanderer—Magrath declared that the federal statues on piracy did not apply to the slave trade. His decision was hailed in the South and condemned in the North.

"K" is for Kershaw, Joseph Brevard [1822-1894]. Soldier, Jurist. Kershaw, a native of Camden, was a member of the General Assembly and of the Secession Convention. In April 1861 he was a colonel of the Second South Carolina Regiment which played an active role in the Confederate victory at First Manassas. The next year he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the brigade that saw action at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

"J" is for Jakes, John

Dec 26, 2017

"J" is for Jakes, John [b. 1932]. Novelist. Born in Illinois, Jakes is a nationally known best-selling novelist and historian. For several decades, he maintained his primary residence on Hilton Head Island. After graduating from DePauw University, he spent a number of years working for pharmaceutical and advertising companies. Then, in 1973 he published the first of eight volumes of the Kent Family Chronicles—a series that depicted the American Revolution through the eyes of one fictional family.

"I" is for indigo

Dec 25, 2017

"I" is for indigo. Indigo, a plant that produces a blue dye was an important part of 18th century South Carolina's economy. It was grown commercially from 1747 till 1800 and was second only to rice in export value. Eliza Lucas Pinckney experimented with its cultivation in the 1730s and 1740s. In 1749 Parliament placed a bounty of six pence per pound on the dye. Indigo was grown on lands not suited to rice cultivation and thus fit nicely into the existing agricultural economy. By the eve of the Revolution, the colony exported more than one million pounds of dye.

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"A" is for Aiken, William, Sr. [1778-1831]. Merchant. Banker. Railroad Developer. A native of, Ireland, Aiken immigrated to South Carolina with his family when only a lad. He grew up in Winnsboro and when a young man was apprenticed to a Charleston cotton merchant. With his employer’s support, Aiken went into business as a cotton factor for himself. Later, he served as a director of the Planters’ and Mechanics’ Bank of South Carolina, the Union Insurance Company, and the Charleston Branch of the Bank of the United States. For seven years he represented the parishes of St. Philip’s and St.

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"W" is for Watson, Albert William [1922-1994]. Legislator. Congressman. After service in World War II, Watson earned his law degree from USC and established a practice in Columbia. He served several terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1962 he was elected to Congress from the Second District as a Democrat and was reelected in 1964. In 1965, stripped of his seniority for supporting Republican Barry Goldwater for President, Watson resigned his seat and was reelected as a Republican in 1966 and 1968. In 1970, he ran for governor against John West.

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"T" is for Theus, Jeremiah [1716-1774]. Portrait Painter. Theus was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Orangeburg District in 1735. Five years later, he moved to Charleston and advertised his services as a limner (portraitist) and sign painter. Despite his lack of formal training, Theus modeled his likenesses after fashionable English portraits of the day. The large majority of his portraits are half-lengths with sitters standing erect and shown without their hands. While the men wear sober street clothes, women are dressed in great finery of lace, fabric, pearls, and even ermine.

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"S" is for St. Paul's Parish. St. Paul’s Parish was one of the original parishes created in 1706. The parish included a mainland region between the South Edisto and Stono Rivers as well as the adjacent Sea Islands. Later the Sea Islands were separated into St. John’s Colleton Parish. The Parish Church was completed in 1707 near the south branch of the Stono River, but was moved further inland in 1737. Rice and indigo dominated the colonial economy of the parish, but after the American Revolution, sea island cotton replaced indigo as a staple.

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"R" is for Rea, Paul Marshall [1878-1948]. Biologist. Educator. Museologist. Rea moved to Charleston in 1903 as professor of biology and geology and as curator of the museum at the College of Charleston. Through public lectures and publications he made the museum more visible. He also founded the Charleston Natural History Society. In 1906, he negotiated a change in the name from the College of Charleston Museum to the Charleston Museum and he assumed the title of director. Rea remained on the college staff until 1914 when he became full-time director of the museum.

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"D" is for Doby, Lawrence Edward.


"C" is for Central, SC.


South Carolina From A to Z
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"A" is for Ashwood Plantation.


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