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“L” is for Laurens

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“L” is for Laurens (Laurens County; 2020 population: 8,929). Originally called Laurensville, the town became the county seat shortly after Laurens County was established in 1785. By 1840 Laurens had more than a dozen stores and eighty-one registered whiskey distilleries. The town’s saw its economic position enhanced by the Laurens Railroad, which connected it to Columbia and Greenville. Two more railroads in the 1880s brought additional commerce and country residents made weekly shopping trips to town. By the turn of the twentieth century, textile mills and Laurens Glass (that made bottles for Southern soft drink companies) made Laurens more than just another rural market town. In twenty-first century, those companies had disappeared to be replaced by regional distribution centers, including one for Wal-Mart. Laurens also developed an aggressive downtown revitalization program and promoted its historic district.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson 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.