SC From A to Z

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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smyth, Ellison Adger (1847-1942). Industrialist. Smyth left the South Carolina Military Academy in 1864 to join the Confederate army. His business career began immediately after the war as a clerk in a wholesale hardware firm. In the late 1870s, in cooperation with Charleston capitalist Francis J. Pelzer, Smyth decided to organize a cotton mill on the Saluda River in Anderson County. Pelzer Manufacturing Company began operations in 1881 with Smyth as president. He remained as president until 1923 when he sold the firm.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smith, William Loughton (1758-1812). Lawyer, congressman, diplomat. In 1770, Smith was sent to Europe for schooling and remained there throughout the Revolutionary War. Returning to South Carolina, he was elected to the General Assembly and, in 1788, to the U.S. House of Representatives. His support for a stronger central government placed him squarely in the Federalist Party. He advocated Alexander Hamilton’s proposal that the central government fund the national debt, assume state debts, and form a national bank.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smith, William (ca. 1762-1840). U.S. Senator. After attending Mount Zion College in Winnsboro, Smith opened a law practice in York District. He was also a successful planter acquiring land holdings across the state and in Alabama and Louisiana. He was a Jeffersonian of the purist stripe, espousing strict-constructionist and states’ rights principles. He represented York in the South Carolina House and Senate. In 1816 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

South Carolina From A to Z
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S" is for Smith, Thomas (ca. 1648-1694) Governor. Born in England, Smith immigrated with his family to Carolina in 1683—likely as a member of the great Dissenter migration to the province in the 1680s. He obtained a landgrave’s grant (48,000 acres) that was known as Wiskinboo Barony. In 1688 the Proprietors named him a commissioner of customs and later, a member of the Grand Council. After he married the widowed owner of Medway plantation in 1688, Smith successfully petitioned the Proprietors to transfer the plantation to him.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smith, Nell Whitely (1929-2011). Legislator, educator, businesswoman. A native of North Carolina, Nell married Harris Page Smith and moved with him to Easley where she taught junior high school science. Later, she opened her own business, House Antiques and Gifts. In July 1981 on the death of her husband, a state senator Senate District No. 1 (Abbeville, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens), she was elected to fill his unexpired term. In 1984, after redistricting, she was elected to two full terms for District No. 2 (Pickens).

South Carolina From A to Z
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"G" is for Greer, Bernard Eugene (b. 1948). Author. While working as a prison guard at Columbia's notorious Central Correctional Institution, Greer took creative writing classes at USC and later earned an MA in creative writing from Hollins College. He then worked on a fishing boat in Maine. During a long Maine winter, he began to forge his experiences as a prison guard into Slammer, his first novel. It was a critical and popular success.

"D" is for Dispensary

Jun 13, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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"D" is for Dispensary. In 1892 South Carolina created the Dispensary, a liquor monopoly. In the early 1890s the state was poised to adopt statewide prohibition. Governor Benjamin Tillman, however, pressured the legislature to pass instead his proposal for state liquor monopoly legislation. Basing his idea on European models, Tillman portrayed the dispensary as a compromise between the private sale of liquor prohibition that would promote temperance and clean up politics. Counties could choose either to have a dispensary or prohibition.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"C" is for Catawba Pottery. Among the Catawba Indians in present-day York County, an unbroken chain of pottery production has helped preserve a cultural identity that was nearly lost after European settlement. Traditionally, women made pottery; but when the population fell to less than a hundred  in1849, everybody had to make pottery. This activity has helped maintain community traditions and is now one of the purest folk art forms in the United States. Production methods have not changed much since around 600 C.E. Pots are hand built using traditional coiling techniques.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"B" is for Beech Island [Aiken County; population 4,834]. Named for the beech trees growing in the wetlands of the nearby Savannah River swamp—and possibly a dead river island—Beech Island began in the 1680s as the Indian trading post, Savano Town. In 1716, the British constructed Fort Moore at Savano Town to protect the upcountry trade routes and to guard the western entrance to the colony. With the creation of New Windsor Township, offers of free land attracted European immigrants. Among them were a group of Swiss settlers recruited by John Tobler.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"A" is for Archdale, John [1642-1717]. Proprietor. Governor. In 1664 Archdale was in New England. In 1681 he purchased a share of the Carolina Proprietorship in trust for his son Thomas Archdale. From 1683 to 1686 he served as Governor of North Carolina in the absence of Seth Sothel. In August 1694 his fellow proprietors chose him to be governor of the Carolinas and he arrived in Charleston the following year. He had been given broad discretion to settle the factionalism that had made governing South Carolina difficult.

"C" is for Columbia

Jun 7, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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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

Jun 6, 2019
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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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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.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smith, Ellison Durant (1864-1944). U.S. Senator. Smith represented Sumter County in the legislature from 1897-1901. After losing a bid for Congress, he began working with several agricultural organizations. In 1905, traveled the Southeast for the Southern Cotton Association--organizing growers and polishing his oratorical skills. In 1908 he stunned the political establishment by winning election to the United States Senate—where he remained for thirty-six years.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Smith, Benjamin (1717-1779). Merchant, politician, planter. A native Carolinian, Smith inherited a two thousand acre plantation at the age of eighteen. His real interest, however, was in trade. In 1735 he began a twenty-seven year mercantile career. By mid-century, his involvement in the lucrative slave and fur trades made him one of the wealthiest merchants in the colony. In 1746 St. Philip’s elected him to the Commons House where he served almost continuously until his death. Smith was an influential member and was Speaker of the House (1755-1763).

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"S" is for Smith, Arthur (1921-2014). Musician. Thanks to the widespread popularity of his instrumental hit “Guitar Boogie,” Arthur Smith became one of the better-known guitarists in country music. Like many other South Carolina musicians, he was a product of the textile mills. He started at Spartanburg’s WSPA, but in the 1940s transferred his radio base to WBT in Charlotte. Smith made his first recording of “Guitar Boogie” about 1945 with the Tennessee Ramblers.

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"S" is for Smith, Alice Ravenel Huger (1876-1958). Artist. Although largely self-taught, Smith emerged as the leading artist of the Charleston Renaissance. Through her writings and art she helped to disseminate the history and charm of her native lowcountry to a national audience. In 1917 she began the study of Japanese color wood-block prints. Synthesizing the methods of the Japanese with lowcountry imagery, Smith invented a visual language that would remain with her for the rest of her life.  By the late 1920s she had abandoned prints and concentrated on watercolor.

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"P" is for Purvis, Melvin Horace, Jr. (1903-1960). Federal agent. Purvis, a Timmonsville native, gained national fame during the 1930s as the nation’s “ace G-man,” credited with gunning down the notorious outlaws John Dillinger and Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd—.  After graduating from USC law school he joined the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation (later the FBI). In 1932, as senior agent in the bureau’s Chicago office, his team took down Dillinger. Three months later, Purvis led the team of federal agents that tracked down and killed Floyd.

"P" is for Purrysburg

May 24, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Purrysburg (Jasper County). The town of Purrysburg, located on the Savannah River was named for its founder, Jean-Pierre Purry, a native of Switzerland. The Carolina township plan, initiated in 1731, encouraged the immigration of Protestant settlers—who, it was hoped would develop the lucrative production of silk, wine, and indigo. In 1732 and 1733, possibly three hundred French-Swiss and German –Swiss colonists—under Purry’s guidance— settled the 18,000 acres township promised by the colonial government.

"P" is for Punches

May 23, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for punches. Punches have been prominent at South Carolina social gatherings from the state’s beginnings. When Eliza Lucas Pinckney recorded her favorite receipts in 1756, she included one for the Duke of Norfolk Punch, made with twelve pounds of sugar, thirty oranges plus five and one-half quarts juice, thirty lemons pus three and one-half quarts of juice, and a gallon of rum. Punches were made to serve a crowd, and individual recipes were named for particular social clubs. There are recipes for punches designed to serve literally hundreds.

"P" is for PTL Club

May 22, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for PTL Club. Based first in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then in Fort Mill, South Carolina, the PTL Club was one of the most successful ventures in televangelism for much of the 1970s and 1980s. PTL stood for both “Praise the Lord” and “People That Love.” Jim Baaker and his wife Tammy Faye Baaker used the popular program as a springboard to develop a Pentecostally oriented resort, theme park, shopping mall, cable network, and entertainment center called Heritage USA in Fort Mill.

"P" is for Provincials

May 21, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Provincials. During the Revolution, in addition to regular British soldiers and German mercenaries, British officials organized loyal Americans into conventional fighting units commonly referred to as provincials. A provincial soldier was a volunteer subject to the same control, benefits, and hardships of a British soldier.

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"P" is for Promised Land (Greenwood and Abbeville Counties; 2010 population 510). Located just off S.C. Highway 10 south of Greenwood, this rural African American community was created by freed slaves in the 1870s. The South Carolina Land Commission purchased the 2,742-acre Marshall plantation in 1869 and divided it into fifty lots of approximately fifty acres each—and then sold them to freed African Americans. The name derived from their “promise” to pay the commission for the land.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Progressive Movement. South Carolina progressives, like reformers throughout the United States, emerged primarily from the town-based middle class.  These progressives pushed for economic and social improvements in their state from roughly 1900 through the 1920s. Fundamentally, progressives deemed an educated population to be essential to all other reform efforts.  Moreover, they focused on strengthening the economy with improved agriculture by helping South Carolina diversify its agriculture and encourage scientific agricultural methods. During Richard I.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Progressive Democratic Party. Aware that many white Democrats in South Carolina opposed President Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection to a fourth term in 1944, African American activists sought to demonstrate their loyalty to the national party by mobilizing black support for the president. Within a few months, a statewide club movement (“Fourth Term for Roosevelt Democratic Clubs”) morphed into the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). In 1944, the PDP nominated Osceola E. McKaine to run against Olin D. Johnson for the U.S. Senate.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for prisons and penitentiaries. The first significant jail in South Carolina, a twelve-foot square designed to accommodate sixteen prisoners, was built in Charleston in 1769. Prior to the Civil War, fines and corporal punishment—rather than incarceration—were the most popular forms of punishment. In 1868, the state’s first penitentiary opened in Columbia. Later renamed the Central Correctional Institution (CCI), it became the state’s most notorious prison—and Cell Bock One was still in use when CCI closed in 1994.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Pringle, Robert (1702-1776). Merchant, planter, legislator, jurist. A native of Scotland, Pringle immigrated to South Carolina in 1725. Initially, he was a factor for London and New England merchants, but eventually went into business for himself. By 1750 he was one of the most prosperous merchants in Charleston. Pringle built two elegant town houses on Tradd Street that still stand. He served as the church warden for both St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s parishes.

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"P" is for Pringle, Elizabeth Waties Allston (1845-1921). Rice planter, author. Allston was born to wealth and privilege, but the Civil War destroyed the family’s wealth. Widowed, she successfully managed two plantations—Chicora Wood and White House--producing rice crops that paid taxes and mortgages. With the decline of rice prices in the 1890s, Pringle was desperate for funds. She convinced the editor of the New York Sun to buy weekly articles she wrote about being a female rice-plantation owner.

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