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
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"G" is for Gadsden, Christopher (1724-1805). Patriot, merchant. Born in Charleston, Gadsden was educated in England. In the 1740s he launched one of the most successful mercantile careers in the colony. Possessing financial independence and a civic spirit, he pursued public office. In 1757 he began his nearly thirty years’ service in the Commons House of Assembly. He became an outspoken defender of colonial rights and—after a public dispute with the royal governor in 1762—was transformed into a zealous American patriot.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"F" is for Fairfield County (687 square miles; 2010 population 23,838). Fairfield County, lying in the lower Piedmont, is a geologically diverse region with topography ranging from level plains to hilly terrain. The county lies primarily between the Broad and Wateree Rivers north of Richland County. Originally part of the 1769 court district of Camden, the area became Fairfield District in 1800 and then Fairfield County in 1868. Mississippian mound builders were active in the region from 1300 to 1400 C.E. The first European settlers arrived in the 1740s.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"E" is for Earle, Joseph Haynsworth (1847 - 1897). U.S. senator. A native of Greenville, Earle was orphaned at five and was reared by an aunt in Sumter. In 1864 he enlisted in the Confederate army. After the war he attended Furman and was admitted to the bar. He opened a practice in Sumter in the mid-1870s. In 1878 he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and in 1882 to the state senate. He was South Carolina Attorney General from 1886-1890. Although a staunch member of the Democratic Party’s Conservative faction, he was elected a circuit judge in 1894.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"D" is for Dabbs, Edith Mitchell (1906-1991). Author, churchwoman, community activist. Dabbs, a native of Dalzell, graduated from Coker College and then taught school for several years. Through the 1940s and 1950s she was active in the work of the United Church Women (an ecumenical Christian organization) and served as state president. Under her leadership the organization grew from half a dozen white women to an integrated annual gathering of more than two hundred. She also served on the national organization’s Public Relations Committee.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"C" is for Caesar (ca. 1682-ca. 1754). Enslaved Person, medical practitioner. Caesar was an enslaved person who gained his freedom in 1750 in exchange for his revealing knowledge of cures for poison and rattlesnake bite.  Upon hearing of his cures, the Commons House began an investigation into their effectiveness. After having his remedies verified by physicians and other notables, the Commons House of Assembly granted him his freedom and awarded him an annual pension of £100 currency. In May 1750 the South-Carolina Gazette published Caesar’s cures and reprinted them in 1751.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“M” is for Moncks Corner (Berkeley County, 2010 population 7,755). The village of Moncks 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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"M" is for Moïse, Penina (1787-1880). Educator, poet, hymn writer, activist. In 1819, Moïse published her first poem in Charleston. Her poems subsequently appeared in newspapers throughout the country and in national magazines such as Godey’s Ladies Book and the American Jewish Advocate. Demonstrating a cosmopolitan world-view, she addressed anti-Semitism, politics and history—and included her personal insights on society. Her poems contained romantic, sentimental, and classical themes, as well as emotional and non-denominational religious topics.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"H" is for Hume, Sophia Wigington (ca. 1702-1774). Minister, writer. A native Charlestonian, Hume was reared an Anglican, but embraced the Quakerism of her grandparents in the 1740s. Re-examining her faith and her life of luxury she moved to London; embraced a life of simplicity; and joined the Society of Friends. She returned to Charleston in late 1747, convinced of the need to warn her neighbors and others of their erring ways. Hume spent the rest of her life inspiring others through her religious writings and dedication to the Quaker faith.

"H" is for Huguenots

Nov 16, 2020
South Carolina From A to Z
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"H" is for Huguenots. Huguenots are French Calvinists. The French Reformed church was formally founded in 1559. Because of intense religious strife in France, Jean Ribaut sponsored the short-lived (1562-1563) Huguenot settlement at Charlesfort on Parris Island. The Edict of Nantes, guaranteeing religious freedom, was revoked in 1695 and individuals had the choice of renouncing their faith or fleeing France. The Huguenot migration to South Carolina is part of a larger diaspora, traditionally known as le Refuge—some 2,500 migrated to North America, about 500 to South Carolina.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"H" is for Halsey, William Melton (1915-1999). Artist. A Charleston native, Halsey returned home after completing his education at Tufts University in Boston. Unlike his predecessors who emphasized charm and sunlight in their portrayals of Charleston, Halsey reveled in the decay, colors, and textures offered by the old city. It was precisely these qualities that inspired the non-representational work that dominated his mature output. Instead of painting conventionally on canvas, he elected to use Masonite, which provided a firm backing for his frequent reworkings of the surface.

"G" is for Gaffney

Nov 12, 2020
South Carolina From A to Z
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"G" is for Gaffney (Cherokee County; 2020 population 12,303). Incorporated in 1875, the city of Gaffney was named for the Irish immigrant Michael Gaffney. He came to the area around 1804, bought land, and constructed a house, barns, and a store and tavern. The property was known as Gaffney’s Cross Roads or Gaffney’s Old Field. In the early 1870s, the arrival of the Atlanta and Charlotte Railroad (later the Southern Railway) resulted in considerable growth. Between 1882 and 1907, seven textile mills provided employment opportunities for hundreds of new residents.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"F" is for the Farmers’ Association. The Farmers’ Association was the vehicle for Benjamin Ryan Tillman’s political ambitions in the mid 1880s. Farmers’ clubs or agricultural improvement groups already existed across the state. Tillman hoped to unite them in supporting his goals of agricultural, educational, and governmental reform while challenging the ruling conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Tillman canvassed the state, speaking at local clubs and getting editorials reprinted in newspapers. The response was substantial.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"E" is for Earthquake rods. Earthquake rods are long pieces of iron several inches in diameter that are inserted through the walls of buildings to reinforce them. The rods are screwed into turnbuckles or toggles and are secured at the outside ends with large washers and nuts. Prior to the great Charleston of 1886 these reinforcement rods were incorporated into buildings in Charleston and elsewhere to safeguard against gales and hurricanes. After 1886, repairmen ran these rods through the walls of hundreds of buildings injured by the Charleston earthquake to guard them from further injury.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"D" is for Daise, Ron (b. 1956) and Natalie Daise (b. 1960). Educators, entertainers. Well known for bringing Gullah culture to national and international audiences, Ron and Natalie Daise have spent the last three decades researching, performing, and publishing information about the dynamic history of lowcountry African Americans.

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