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 Hunter, John (d. 1802). Congressman, U.S. senator. Little is known about Hunter’s early life. He owned considerable real estate in Pendleton District. In 1785 he was elected to the General Assembly from Little River District (modern Laurens County). He represented the district at the 1788 convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution and at the 1790 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. In 1793 the voters of Ninety-Six District elected him to the U.S. Congress. Subsequently, the General Assembly elected him in 1797 to fill the unexpired term of U.S. senator Pierce Butler.

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"H" is for Hunter, Jane Edna Iris (1882-1971). Nurse, social worker. Family circumstances forced Hunter to go into domestic service when barely in her teens. She was able to work her way through Ferguson Academy (now Ferguson-William College) and graduated in 1900. She was admitted to the Cannon Street Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1902. Her experience in the Charleston slums imbued Hunter with a powerful desire to help her fellow blacks escape such deplorable conditions.

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"H" is for Humphreys, Josephine (b. 1945). Novelist. Born in Charleston, Humphreys graduated from Duke and obtained an M.F.A. from Yale. In 1970 she began teaching at Baptist College in Charleston [now Charleston Southern University]. Drawing praise for its finely honed language and strong characters, her first novel, Dreams of Sleep (1984) won the Ernest Hemingway Prize for a first book of fiction. Humphreys’ second novel, Rich in Love (1987) was later made into a film. Fireman’s Fair (1991), her third novel, takes place following a destructive hurricane.

"C" is for Columbia

Sep 18, 2018
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"C" is for Columbia (Richland County; 2010 population 130,493). Named for Christopher Columbus and created in 1786 as the nation’s first truly planned capital city, Columbia has a unique history. While now the setting for state, county, and municipal governments, it took shape in the wilderness near the geographic center of South Carolina. The original plan for the city was a grid two miles square containing 400 blocks. Most exceptional were the wide streets. In 1950, Columbia embraced the city-manager government.

"C" is for Colonoware

Sep 17, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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"C" is for Colonoware. On historic-period sites in South Carolina, archaeologists often find locally made, hand-built unglazed pottery that was fired in open hearths rather than kilns. Vessels and sherds of this ware may be found on the sites of Indian camps and villages, the city lots of Charleston and other towns, underwater near wharves and ferries, and on small farms and plantations. This broad class of pottery has been termed colonoware. This pottery is most closely associated with Native Americans and African Americans, but associations vary considerably.

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"C" is for Colonial Agents. South Carolina, like Britain’s other American colonies, had no elected representatives in Parliament to argue for its interests. The problem for the colony then was how to get Parliament to pay attention to its particular concerns. Parliament, too, desired an informed source on its distant settlement. The answer--beginning in 1712--was a permanent colonial agent, paid for by the colony’s Commons House of Assembly. He reported regularly to the Commons House on matters of interest to the colony.

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"C" is for Colleton County (1,056 square miles; 2010 population 38, 909). Colleton County was one of three original counties organized in Carolina in 1682. Lying south and west of Charleston between the Combahee and Stono Rivers this Colleton was somewhat larger than its modern counterpart. By the 1730s the county had been subdivided into three colonial parishes. The General Assembly created Colleton District in 1800 with Jacksonborough as the courthouse town. In 1817 Walterboro became the county seat.

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"C" is for Colleton, Sir John (1608-1666). Proprietor. Colleton was a soldier and courtier of King Charles I and spent more than, £40,000 of his own money to support the king during the English Civil War. Following the king’s trial and execution, Colleton and his family fled to the protection of relatives in Barbados. He returned to England in 1659 where he joined others in returning Charles II to the throne. For his loyalty and service, Colleton was knighted in 1661.

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"C" is for Colleton, James (d. 1706). Governor. Colleton was the son and brother of Carolina proprietors. He was named governor in 1686 with instructions to clamp down on illegal trade with pirates. Because of political turmoil, he declared martial law—an unpopular move. Colleton was politically naïve and was tricked by the powerful Goose Creek Men into asking the colonial parliament to raise taxes on imported liquors to provide funds to increase his salary. His alleged allies turned on him; voted down the bill; and denounced his avarice.

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"C" is for College of Charleston. Although plans for a college at Charleston had been discussed throughout the eighteenth century, it was not until 1785 that the legislature authorized the creation of a college “in or near the city of Charleston.” In 1837 it became the first publicly funded city college in the country. Support was meager and enrollment declined. President Harrison Randolph’s long tenure (1897-1941) effectively established a new college. Money was raised and dormitories constructed.

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"C" is for Colhoun, John Ewing (ca. 1749-1802). U.S. senator. Born in Virginia, Colhoun moved with his family to Long Canes (present-day Abbeville County). He graduated from Princeton in 1774. During the Revolution he was an aide-de-camp to General Andrew Pickens. After the war, he concentrated on his plantations in the lowcountry and in Ninety Six District where he controlled thousands of acres and owned at least 108 slaves. Colhoun entered the General Assembly in 1779 and over a span of two decades represented several different districts. He was elected to the U.S.

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"C" is for the Cold War (1945-1991). The cold war was the period of intense ideological and military competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and had wide-ranging impact on the people, life, and economy of South Carolina. School children practiced emergency drills and radio and television stations announced periodic tests of the civil defense system. Nuclear-powered submarines began plying in and out of Charleston harbor.

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"B" is for Butler, Matthew Calbraith (1836-1909). Soldier, U.S. senator. In June 1861, the Edgefield Hussars—with Butler as captain—were mustered into Confederate service. He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and service in the Virginia theater. Promoted to brigadier general in late 1864, he and his division were ordered to South Carolina in a vain attempt to thwart Sherman’s march. In 1870 he was a candidate for lieutenant governor on the fusionist Union Reform Party ticket.

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"B" is for Butler, Andrew Pickens (1796-1857). Jurist, U.S. senator. After graduating from South Carolina College, Butler passed the bar and soon settled in his native Edgefield to practice law. He owed much of his early prominence and later political influence to his friendship with John C. Calhoun. He represented Edgefield District in both the South Carolina House and Senate. From1833-1846 he was a state judge. In 1846 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and was reelected twice. In the Senate he echoed his mentor’s extreme sectional stance.

"G" is for Gullah

Sep 3, 2018
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"G" is for Gullah. The term “Gullah, “ or “Geechee,” describes a unique group of African Americans descended from Africans settled on the Sea Islands of the lowcountry of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. The origin of the term “Gullah” (in South Carolina) is uncertain. Some believe it derives from “Angola”; others think it refers to the Gola people of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The term “Geechee” (in Georgia) may come from the Ogeechee River; or it may refer to the Kissi/Geesi people of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

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"G" is for Guerard, Benjamin (d. 1788). Governor. Guerard studied law in England and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1761. He served in the Commons House, but spent most of his time dealing with litigation concerning the estates of father and his in-laws. During the Revolution, he served in the militia and lent the state £20,000. After the fall of Charleston Guerard was held captive on the prison ship Pack Horse. Between 1779 and 1786 he represented St. Helena’s Parish in both the House and Senate. In 1783 he was elected governor by the General Assembly.

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"G" is for Grosvenor, Vertamae (1938-2016). Writer, culinary anthropologist. A native of Allendale County, Grosvenor moved with her family to Philadelphia when she was ten. After high school she lived in Paris and traveled throughout Europe. During her travels she became interested in the African diaspora and how African foods and recipes traveled and changed as a result of it. Her first book, Vibration Cooking or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl was published in 1970. It is a unique combination of recipes, reminiscences, and stories from family and friends.

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"S" is for Slave religion. Enslaved Africans brought their traditional belief systems with them and little effort was made to evangelize them until the 1820s—because some slaveholder thought conversion required emancipation. For all their differences, traditional African beliefs and Christianity had important points of convergence. A creator God was present in both, and the Christian Trinity and angels were suggestive of a multiplicity of deities. Also the story of death and resurrection was familiar to West and South Central Africans who believed in reincarnation.

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"S" is for Slave patrols. Slave patrols were a crucial mechanism of slave control in colonial and antebellum South Carolina. Like the state’s earliest slave codes, the earliest slave patrol systems were based on Barbadian models. Following the Stono Rebellion in 1739, the Assembly passed the Negro Act of 1740, which provided for regular, constant patrols. In South Carolina all plantation owners were called upon to serve in patrols. Patrol beats were not large; most ranged between ten and fifteen miles.

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"P" is for Pratt, Nathaniel Alpheus (1834-1906). Chemist, engineer, inventor. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Pratt, a native Georgian was named assistant chief of the Confederate States Nitre and Mining Bureau at Augusta. He was responsible for securing domestic supplies of raw materials for the manufacturing of gunpowder. He moved to Charleston after the war. In his wartime search for minerals, he realized that the rocky nodules he had discovered around Charleston Neck were phosphate of lime.

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"P" is for Praise houses. “Praise houses” (sometimes called “prayer houses”) functioned on antebellum South Carolina plantations as both the epitome of slave culture and symbols of resistance to slaveholders’ oppressive version of Christianity. Generally simple, clapboard structures built by the slaves themselves, praise houses were erected with the knowledge of the master class. Meetings in the praise house usually occurred on weeknights, rather than Sunday mornings. The simple architecture of the praise house mirrored the style of slave religion.

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"M" is for Montgomery, John Henry (1833-1902). Manufacturer, merchant. In the late 1850s Montgomery farmed and entered into general merchandising business. After service in the Civil War, he continued his farming and mercantile activities. In 1874 he moved to Spartanburg joined a firm that was largest cotton buyer in the county. He and his partners organized the Pacolet Manufacturing Company that began operations in 1884. Montgomery was president and treasurer of the company. Under his leadership, the company expanded to three mills.

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"M" is for Montagu, Lord Charles Greville (1741-1784). Governor. In 1766 Montagu was appointed governor of South Carolina. During the first three years he managed to settle differences between backcountry settlers and coastal residents—and supporting an act that established circuit courts throughout the colony. In 1769 he sailed to England and did not return until 1771. He was embroiled in a controversy with the Commons House over its control of funding the colony’s budget. His attempt to relocate the capital to Beaufort created a furor.

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"B" is for Busbee, Cyril B. (1908-2001). Educator. In his early years Busbee was a teacher, coach, and administrator in various schools in Georgia and South Carolina. In 1943 he moved to Brookland-Cayce Schools (later Lexington District Two), where he rose to superintendent. After service in World War II he returned to the district where he remained as superintendent for twenty-one years. As an administrator, he was considered quite teacher-oriented. In 1966, he was elected state Superintendent of Education and was twice re-elected—serving until 1979.

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"B" is for Burton, Edward Milby (1898-1977). Museum director, naturalist, historian. As a young man Burton had an avid interest in hunting and fishing that led to an interest in natural history. In 1930 he joined the board of the Charleston Museum and two years later was appointed its director. He set out to enlarge the museum’s collections of freshwater fish (personally adding 3,156 specimens). During the late 1930s he secured the historic Joseph Manigault House for the museum, thereby saving it from destruction. During World War II, he served in the U.S.

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"B" is for Burt, Armistead (1802-1883). Congressman. After attending Pendleton Academy, Burt married John C. Calhoun’s niece and became his protégé. He supported Calhoun’s opposition to the Tariff of 1828 and was the secretary of the 1832 Nullification Convention. He sat in Congress for ten years (1843-1853). Burt was an accepted spokesman in the House for Calhoun’s prosouthern policy, particularly preserving states’ rights, reducing tariffs, and maintaining the balance between free and slave states in the Senate.

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"P" is for Powder Magazine (Charleston). In 1703 the colonial assembly authorized the construction of a storehouse for gunpowder as part of the defenses of Charleston. The Powder Magazine was built on the northern edge of the walled city in 1713. The one-story brick structure has a pyramidal tile roof with cross gables and a single room measuring approximately twenty-seven feet square. The walls are thirty-six inches thick. The National Society of the Colonial Dames in South Carolina purchased the building in 1902 to save it from demolition—and turned it into a museum.

"P" is for Poultry

Aug 13, 2018
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"P" is for Poultry. The humble chicken has risen from the obscurity of the barnyard to the summit of South Carolina agriculture. In the late twentieth century the poultry industry (broilers, turkeys, and eggs) became the state’s leading agribusiness, contributing $500 million annually to the state’s economy. Before chickens and turkeys were cash crops, they were a part of the culture. Native Americans raised turkeys long before settlers came to South Carolina—and chickens arrived with the first settlers.

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"M" is for Monck’s Corner (Berkeley County, 2010 population 7,755). The village of Monck’s Corner in St. John’s Berkeley Parish derived its name from Thomas Monck’s eighteenth century plantation. A small commercial community grew up near the plantation, located at a fork where the Charleston Road intersected with the Cherokee Path. During the siege of Charleston in 1780, it became a point of strategic importance and the scene of a major British victory. After the Revolution, the completion of the State Road and the Santee Canal caused the village to decline.

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"M" is for Molloy, Robert [1906-1977]. Novelist, editor, critic. Malloy was born in Charleston, but at the age of twelve his family moved to Philadelphia. He began his literary career as a publisher’s reader, translator, and book reviewer. Eventually he became the literary editor of the New York Sun and began writing short stories that appeared in national magazines. In 1945 he published his first novel, Pride’s Way—an engaging social comedy of a large Charleston Catholic family.

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