Walter Edgar

Host

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.

In 1972 he joined the faculty of the History Department and in 1980 was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies. Dr. Edgar is the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies and the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History. He retired from USC in 2012.

He has written or edited numerous books about South Carolina and the American South, including South Carolina: A History, the first new history of the state in more than 60 years. With more than 37,000 copies in print and an audio edition, it has been a publishing phenomenon. Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution is in its fourth printing. He is also the editor of the South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Ways to Connect

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"J" is for Jasper, William [d. 1779] Soldier. On July 7, 1775, William Jasper enlisted in the elite grenadier company of the Second South Carolina Continental Regiment. During the battle of Sullivans Island on June 28, 1776, he was a sergeant and won lasting fame. When an enemy shot brought down the fort's flag, he restored the banner under heavy enemy fire. In 1779 he led dangerous guerrilla raids against British pickets and patrols. During the Franco-American attack on the British lines around Savannah in October 1779, Jasper received a mortal wound.

"I" is for Inman Mills

Apr 27, 2020
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

Ted Lee and Matt Lee
Ovation

This week on Walter Edgar's Journal, Mat Lee and Ted Lee drop in to talk about their new book, Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business (2019, Henry Holt). In Hotbox, the Lee brothers take on the competitive, wild world of high-end catering, exposing the secrets of a food business few home cooks or restaurant chefs ever experience. Known for their modern take on Southern cooking, the Lee brothers steeped themselves in the catering business for four years, learning the culture from the inside-out.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

"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.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

"M" is for Malaria

Apr 20, 2020
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

Destruction at the Walled City (Intramuros district) of old Manila in May 1945, after the Battle of Manila.
Office of the Surgeon general, Dept. of the Army via Wikimedia Commons

75 years ago, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepared to liberate the capital city of the Phillipines in 1945, he believed that the occupying Japanese forces would retreat. Instead, determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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
SC Public Radio

"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.

"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
SC Public Radio

"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.

"H" is for Happyville

Apr 13, 2020
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"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.

Whitfield Brooks's most notorious son: "Preston S. Brooks. Representative in Congress of the U.S. from South Carolina." Circa 1857
LIbrary of Congress/Walter, Adam B., 1820-1875, engraver

In his thoroughly researched and meticulously foot-noted publication, An Edgefield Planter and His World: The 1840s Journals of Whitfield Brooks (2019, Mercer University Press) Dr. James O. Farmer, Jr.,  opens a window on the life of an elite family and its circle in a now iconic place, during a crystalizing decade of the Antebellum era. By the time he began a new diary volume in 1840, Brooks (1790-1851) was among the richest men in a South Carolina district known for its cotton-and-slave-generated wealth.

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