South Carolina from A to Z

Mon-Fri, throughout the day

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 Holmes, Nickels John [1847-1919. Clergyman, educator. After attending the University of Edinburgh, Holmes taught school and practiced law, but then became a licensed Presbyterian minister--serving congregations in Spartanburg County. In 1891 he and his wife Lucy attended evangelist Dwight L. Moody’s annual Bible conference. Lucy Holmes experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began a ministry of her own. Four years later Holmes experienced entire sanctification and became an itinerant evangelist, preaching sanctification and divine healing. He left the Presbyterian Church and organized what became Tabernacle Pentecostal Church. After 1906 he identified himself as a Pentecostal. In 1907 he reported that he had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues. From then on, Nickels John Holmes’ revivals carried the Pentecostal message and he became the recognized leader of the Pentecostal movement in South Carolina.


  “H” is for Holmes, Francis Simmons [1815-1882]. Paleontologist, museum curator. A skilled farmer, Holmes won a prize for his agricultural experiments and, in 1842 published a highly successful book, The Southern Farmer and Market Gardner. However, his interest in farming gave way to his fascination with fossils, especially marine invertebrates. By 1845, he had amassed a huge collection, which eventually ended up on display at the College of Charleston. In 1850, the college resolved to create a natural history museum and appointed Holmes to be its curator. During the Civil War he served as director of wayside hospitals and later as superintendent of niter works. After the war Francis Simmons Holmes played a major role in developing the phosphate industry in South Carolina, publishing a book, Phosphate Rocks of South Carolina and the “Great Carolina Marl Bed.”


  “G” is for Greenwood County [456 square miles; population 66,271]. Located in the lower Piedmont southwest of the Saluda River, Greenwood County was created in 1897. Its boundaries were carved out of Abbeville and Edgefield Counties. When residents approved the formation of the county, they selected the name of the county to be the same as the town that was to be the county seat. Railroads played a vital role in the county’s transformation from an agricultural to an industrial community. From the Civil War until World War II, textiles dominated the economy for nearly a century, but after World War II, the county launched a campaign to attract more diverse industry. The most dramatic economic success came in 1988 when Fuji Photo Film located its North American headquarters in Greenwood County.


  “C” is for Clemson, Thomas Green, IV [1807-1888]. Engineer, agriculturalist, college founder. Born in Philadelphia, Clemson earned a diploma from the Royal School of Mines in Paris. He worked as an engineer in the US and abroad, and published numerous scientific articles. In 1838, he married Anna Maria Calhoun. Eventually the couple settled in Maryland where he helped organize what would become the University of Maryland. After the Civil War, one of Clemson’s passionate goals was to establish a college to provide practical education in agriculture and the sciences. The Clemsons took possession of Fort Hill plantation in 1872 and decided to use the property to establish a college. When Thomas Green Clemson, IV died in 1888, he left 814 acres of land and more than $80,000 in assets to the state of South Carolina for the college he envisioned.


“C” is for Clemson

Aug 24, 2015

  “C” is for Clemson [Pickens County, population 11,939]. This small college town began as the Town of Calhoun, incorporated in 1892, and located about a mile from the new campus of Clemson Agricultural College. The Calhoun Land Company owned six hundred acres along the Charlotte Air Line Railway [later the Southern Railway], but little existed there except the depot. The train depot proved essential to the town’s prosperity. In 1943, a residents’ petition resulted in a vote to change the name to the town to Clemson. During the 1960s the city of Clemson tripled in area due to an aggressive annexation policy—and the population grew six hundred percent between 1960 and 2000. The Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce adopted “In Season Every Season” as its slogan, emphasizing that Clemson had more to offer than football games.


“C” is for Clays

Aug 21, 2015

  “C” is for Clays. South Carolina produced the first kaolin mines in the United States. Today it contains some of the country’s most productive clay beds. The predominant clay region in South Carolina follows the trend of the Sandhills across the upper coastal plain, with major production centered in Aiken County near the towns of Aiken, Bath, and Langley. Clay was first mined for pottery production in Edgefield District, which became a center of pottery making in the state. Eighteenth century English china manufacturer Josiah Wedgewood wrote about the important kaolin deposits in South Carolina. For many years the state produced fuller’s earth, clay that was used as an industrial absorbent. Today South Carolina produces clay not for pottery but for industrial uses, including paper manufacture. In addition, clays are mined for the manufacture of brick products.


  “C” is for Classical Music. The first English settlers brought with them their European musical traditions. Psalmody [the singing of psalms in divine worship] was the colonists’ primary music. Although sacred music would continue to predominate, by the 1730s concerts in Charleston brought European classical style music to a broader audience. Because of the great demand for classical and popular sheet music in the 19th century, music-publishing firms thrived in both Charleston and Columbia. By the 20th century, classical music was melding with indigenous influences, initiating a distinctly American musical style and the emergence of native composers, including South Carolinians Lily Strickland and Carlyle Floyd. Classical music continues to prosper in the state’s educational institutions as well as in amateur and professional performing groups such as the Charleston Symphony, the Greenville Symphony, and the South Carolina Philharmonic.


  “C” is for Clark, Septima Poinsette [1898-1987]. Educator, civil rights activist. In 1916 Clark completed the teacher training program at Avery Institute and taught on Johns Island and at Avery. After several moves out of state, Clark taught for a while in Columbia before returning to Charleston. In both cities she as an active member of the Methodist church, various educational organizations, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1956, she lost her job with the Charleston County School System because she refused to disavow membership in the NAACP. After attending a workshop at the Highlands Folk School, she became well versed in its interracial community organizing work. Septima Poinsette Clark began organizing what would be called “citizenship school” model that ultimately engaged thousands of ordinary people in literacy and political education throughout the South.


“B” is for BMW

Aug 18, 2015

  “B” is for BMW. The German upscale automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke [BMW] was founded in 1916 as an aviation-engine manufacturing company. In the 1920s it began producing motorcycles and automobiles. In 1992, Spartanburg County won a major recruiting battle when the company chose Greer over 250 other localities for BMW’s first auto manufacturing plant outside Germany. The decision was hailed both locally and internationally as the crowning achievement of the state’s Piermont campaign for international industrial recruitment. The Greer factory started production in 1994 by producing BMW’s 318i models but later expanded to a number of others. The company continuously expanded its factory both in size and production. By the first decade of the 21st century BMW had invested two billion dollars in its factory that covered more than 2.3 million square feet and employed more that 4,000 workers.


  “B” is for the Bluffton Movement [1844]. Aggrieved by the Tariff of 1842 and the refusal of Congress to annex Texas, a group of planters from St. Luke’s Parish decided to organize the first political movement with the express goal of South Carolina’s independent secession from the Union. They met in in July 1844, under a large oak in Bluffton, South Carolina. The “Bluffton Movement,” as it became known was a call to secession if the South was not guaranteed its rights to slavery, a lower tariff, and states’ rights. The movement’s political ideology began the radical separatist policy that would eventually bring Robert Barnwell Rhett into national prominence as the chief spokesman for southern secession. Primarily because of John C. Calhoun’s opposition to the movement and its goals, the Bluffton Movement attracted few followers outside the Beaufort region.


  “H” is for Holman, Clarence Hugh [1914-1981]. Educator, author. After graduating from Presbyterian College in 1936, he remained at the school in a variety of positions. In 1949 after earning his doctorate in English at UNC-Chapel Hill, he was invited to remain as a member of the English Department. His ascension through the ranks and to the highest positions in the university was meteoric. He served as chair of the English Department, dean of the Graduate School, and Provost of the university. Internationally renowned, Holman embraced his southern roots and gave a major part of his scholarly effort to southern writing. He wrote, co-wrote, or edited twenty-six works of non-fiction. Clarence Hugh Holman was instrumental in bringing fellow South Carolinian Louis D. Rubin, Jr. to Chapel Hill in 1969 and together they transformed the study of Southern letters.


  “G” is for Greenwood [Greenwood County; population 22,071]. In 1823, The McGehee family built a summer home midway between Abbeville and Cambridge and called it “Green Wood.” A village grew up nearby with a post office which, in 1850 was designated Greenwood. The town was incorporated in 1857. In the 1890s, the town emerged as a center of textile manufacturing under the leadership of James C. Self, John P. Abney, and F.E. Grier. In 1897 the town became the seat of newly created Greenwood County. The following year it developed a municipal electric power and water plant, providing residents with an adequate water supply and access to electricity. In 1903 Lander College relocated to Greenwood. In the 21st century, as textiles have declined, Greenwood has re-invented itself as a medical and research center for the lower piedmont region.


  “C” is for Clarendon County [607 square miles; population 32,502]. The first Clarendon County was created in 1785, but was combined with Claremont and Salem Counties to form Sumter District in 1800. In 1855, the legislature created Clarendon District from the southern half of Sumter District. The county was named for Earl Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, one of the original Lords Proprietors. Located in east-central South Carolina, modern Clarendon County is bordered on three sides by Sumter, Florence, and Williamsburg Counties, while the Santee River—in the form of Lake Marion—forms the county’s southern boundary. The county seat is Manning, named for one of the county’s wealthiest and most distinguished families. In the 21st century, forty percent of Clarendon County was forest and one-third was dedicated to traditional agricultural products such as tobacco, cotton, corn, and soybeans.


  “C” is for Claflin University. Responding to the urgent need to educate former slaves, northern Methodists established Claflin University in Orangeburg in 1869. The Claflin family of Massachusetts provided financial support to start the institution. They purchased the former site of the Orangeburg Female Institute. They then merged Baker Bible Institute in Charleston and the Camden Normal Training School and renamed these institutions Claflin University. The university opened its doors in October 1869, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, or complexion. In December 1869, the school received a charter from the General Assembly and became the first historically black college or university in the state. It awarded its first bachelor’s degrees in 1882. During the 1890s the General Assembly provided funds to Claflin University so it could offer agricultural and industrial courses as well as liberal arts degrees.


“P” is for Polo

Aug 10, 2015

  “P” is for Polo. Polo has been played in South Carolina nearly as long as it has existed in the United States. Polo began in modern-day Iran some time between 500 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. The British military in India picked it up in 1860. In 1876, the sport was brought to the U.S. The first polo game in South Carolina was played on March 27, 1882 in Aiken—which has remained a major center for the sport. During what was known as the “golden age of polo,” through the 1950s, Aiken was the winter capital of polo in the United States. The Aiken Polo Club, founded in 1882, is one of the country’s oldest. In the early 21st century there were fourteen polo fields in Aiken and active U.S. Polo Association clubs in Aiken Charleston, and Columbia.


  “P” is for Pollock, William Pegues [1870-1922]. U.S. Senator. A native of Cheraw, Pollock was admitted to the bar in 1893. The following year he was elected to the first of four terms to represent Chesterfield County in the South Carolina House of Representatives. He served as a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1900. He made an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1916, but his energetic campaign made him a statewide figure. In 1918, the General Assembly elected him to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Senate following the death of Ben Tillman. Taking his seat on December 2, 1918, Pollock participated in the vote for the enfranchisement of women—which he supported. Following the end of his short interim term on March 3, 1919, William Pegues Pollock resumed his law practice in Cheraw.


  “C” is for Civilian Conservation Corps. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] was a New Deal federal initiative that put millions of unemployed men to work on conservation projects. The program represented an unprecedented effort to combine social welfare with conservation on public and private lands. Working with state and federal agencies, the CCC developed seventeen state parks—including Oconee, Table Rock and Paris Mountain—and national forest recreation areas. The Civilian Conservation Corps’ most important legacy in South Carolina was the role it played in the transformation of the state’s rural landscape. It began the process of land restoration by building hundreds of miles of terraces and planting more than fifty-six million trees. The state’s extensive forests of today can be traced to the pioneering conservation efforts and the visionary planning of the Civilian Conservation Corps.


  “C” is for Civil War [1861-1865]. Even before the state had seceded in December 1860, South Carolina had already begun making preparations for a war that most of her citizens believed either would never actually occur or would be of short duration. On April 2, 1861, Confederate gunners began to fire on Fort Sumter. Over the course of the next four years, more than 60,000 South Carolinians either volunteered or were drafted into military service. The Palmetto State was not a major battleground, but it did see a few major campaigns and several minor engagements. One result of the Union victory was the emancipation of 400,000 slaves. A painful consequence of the Civil War was 18,000 to 21,000 men—or one of every fourteen white South Carolinians had been killed or had died from disease while in uniform.


  “B” is for Bluffton [Beaufort County, pop. 1,275]. Bluffton originated as a summer resort for antebellum plantation owners of St. Luke’s Parish in Beaufort District. Located on the twenty-foot high bluffs of the May River and facing the cool, southerly winds, it was an ideal summer refuge for planter families. The town, known first simply as May River and then later as Kirk’s Bluff, was officially named Bluffton in 1844. The town’s streets were formally laid out in the 1830s and Bluffton was incorporated by the General Assembly in 1852. The first secessionist movement in the state was started in 1844 by the planters of St. Luke’s Parish and became known as the “Bluffton Movement.” During the Civil War Union troops—perhaps as retribution for the role residents played in the secession movement-- burned more than two-thirds of Bluffton.


“B” is for Blues

Aug 3, 2015

  “B” is for Blues. A powerful form of secular African American musical and cultural expression, blues developed in the South around the turn of the 20th century—a product of large plantations and railroad, mining and logging camps where black workers congregated. With thickly idiomatic, metaphysically charged lyrics, early blues songs confronted everyday life with humor and resilience. But, they also reflected the oppression and social isolation African Americans faced during the Jim Crow era. As blues spread throughout the South in the early decades of the 20th century, regional styles and traditions evolved. In South Carolina the hotbed of the blues was the Greenville-Spartanburg area where a coterie of talented guitarists—including Willie Walker, Josh White and the Rev. “Blind” Gary Davis--contributed to a style that became known as the Piedmont or East school of the blues.


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