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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“M” is for Mennonites

8 hours ago

  “M” is for Mennonites.  The Mennonites of South Carolina are a Protestant group descended from the Anabaptists of the Reformation. The Anabaptists insisted on a conscious choice to join the church [adult baptism], a disciplined church in which members were responsible to each other, and a sharing church in which material needs were met by fellow members. They rejected union of church and state and the validity of oaths and self-defense, including military service. Mennonites began migrating to South Carolina in the late 1960s. They established twelve churches, including Fair Play Church and Foothills Fellowship in Oconee County to minister to at-risk juveniles in a camp setting. By the early 21st century there were more than seven hundred Mennonites in South Carolina, concentrated primarily in Abbeville, Aiken, Barnwell, and Oconee Counties.

“L” is for Lowman Lynchings

Oct 2, 2015

  “L” is for Lowman Lynchings. In the early hours of October 8, 1926, Bertha, Demon, and Clarence Lowman were taken from their cells in the Aiken County jail. They were then driven to a pine thicket on the outskirts of Aiken, where according to one account, one thousand persons and several hundred cars waited. The Lowmans were ordered out and shot down by a fusillade of bullets. Demon and Clarence died immediately, but Bertha did not. Eyewitnesses said she tried to crawl away, but was shot in the head by Aiken County Sheriff Nollie Robinson. The news of the Lowmans’ deaths created a firestorm of state and national outrage. Despite public revelations, two successive governors chose not to remove the sheriff from office. And, an all-white Aiken County grand jury refused to indict anyone for the Lowman Lynchings.

“H” is for Hodges, James Hovis

Oct 1, 2015

  “H” is for Hodges, James Hovis [b. 1956]. Governor. Hodges’ political career began when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1986. When the Republicans took over the House in 1994, he became the chamber’s Democratic leader. He entered the governor’s race in 1998 as a relative unknown. The incumbent David Beasley opposed a state lottery—an issue that Hodges skillfully turned into an education issue—appealing to the need to improve the state’s low ranking on national test scores. He won a solid victory, carrying 35 of the state’s 46 counties. Education was the centerpiece of his governorship. He oversaw the implementation of the education lottery, created a preschool initiative, and won passage of a $1.1 billion school construction program. James Hovis Hodges was defeated for re-election in 2002.

“G” is for the Greenville and Columbia Railroad

Sep 30, 2015

  “G” is for the Greenville and Columbia Railroad. The Greenville and Columbia Railroad was the first railroad to enter the South Carolina upcountry. The road was chartered in 1845.The circuitous 160-mile route had spurs that ran through Abbeville and Anderson. By 1859 other lines connected Laurens and Spartanburg with the Greenville and Columbia. Finally, the ambitious Blue Ridge Railroad was supposed to run from Anderson through the mountains to tap the commerce of the Ohio Valley. The grandiose scheme had gotten no further than Walhalla when the Civil War began.

“C” is for Charleston Southern University

Sep 29, 2015

  “C” is for Charleston Southern University. Charleston Southern University is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Its roots can be traced to the 1950s, when interest in a Baptist college for the lowcountry became apparent among the churches in that area. A charter was obtained in 1960 and in 1964 the South Carolina Baptist Convention accepted the new Baptist College at Charleston as an institution of the convention.  Initially, classes were held in local churches and a downtown hotel.

“B” is for Blatt, Solomon

Sep 28, 2015

  “B” is for Blatt, Solomon [1895-1986. Legislator. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a law degree, Blatt was admitted to the bar. He served in France during World War I. In 1932, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Barnwell County, beginning a legislative career that would span six decades. In 1935 he was elected Speaker, a position he held until 1973—with the exception of the period 1947-1951. Blatt defined good government as a mixture of progressive action and judicial restraint.

  “R” is Rugeley, Rowland [1738-1776]. Author. Born in England, Ruguley published his first work Miscellaneous Poems: Translations from La Fontaine and Others in 1763. Two years later he immigrated to South Carolina with the promise of help from Governor Montagu. Montagu awarded Ruguley the office of register and later appointed him to the Royal Council. In 1774, he published in Charleston The Story of Aenas and Dido: Burlesqu’d from the Fourth Book of the Aenid of Virgil. This work, which has been called the first classical burlesque written in America, has a lengthy preface satirizing the pretensions of poets in the New World, witty footnotes in Latin, and a wildly comic spirit. In his writings, Rowland Ruguley showed himself to be comfortable with neoclassical forms and a content that mixes the classical with the contemporary.

  “R” is for Rubin, Louis Decimus, Jr. [1922-2013].  Teacher, author, editor, publisher. A native of Charleston, Rubin served in the army during World War II and obtained his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1954. In 1957 he joined the faculty at Hollins College where he mentored future writers Annie Dillard and Lee Smith. Later at UNC-Chapel Hill, Clyde Edgerton, Jill McCorkle, and Kaye Gibbons were among his students. Rubin left teaching to concentrate on Algonquin Books, a press he had founded in 1983 to nourish young writers such as Dori Sanders. Among his many publications were Southern Renasence, Surfaces of a Diamond, Seaports of the South, Small Craft Advisory, and My Father’s People. During the course of his long and productive career, Louis Decimus Rubin, Jr., acquired “a cultural mantle …as the Dean of Southern Literature.”

  “R” is for Royal Council. The Royal Council, the linear heir of the council under the Lords Proprietors, was a twelve-man governing board created in 1720 to serve as adviser to the governor, a court of appeals, and an upper house of the legislature. Most councilmen were wealthy and well-connected planters, merchants, and lawyers/placemen. They were nominated by the governor and approved by the London-based Board of Trade. By the mid-1750s South Carolina’s upper house carried considerable power and prestige, a highly unusual circumstance at a time when most colonial councils were becoming political nonentities. That changed in 1756 when Governor Lyttleton arbitrarily removed councilor William Wragg. The “Wragg Affair” led to numerous resignations and the refusal of South Carolinians to serve on the Royal Council—now described as a weak and “dependent body.”

  “R” is for Rosemond, James R. [1820-1892]. Clergyman. Born a slave in Greenville County, Rosemond was sold to a family of white Methodists under whose influence he was baptized in 1844. In 1845 he was appointed a class leader in the Greenville Methodist Church, South. In 1854, the church licensed him to preach and was a regular preacher at Sharon Church in Anderson District. The congregation raised $500 to purchase his freedom, but his owner demanded $800. After emancipation, he took the name James R. Rosemond and gathered a group of black Methodists in Greenville and established a separate congregation. In 1868 he was ordained a deacon and he eventually established fifty churches in the area stretching from Oconee to York counties. Because of his missionary efforts, James R. Rosemond was commonly called Father Rosemond.

    “R” is for Rose Hill Plantation [Union County]. Rose Hill Plantation was the home of South Carolina governor William Henry Gist—one of the South’s “fire-eating” politicians who actively sought secession. Constructed between 1828 and 1832, the mansion at Rose Hill is a large but simple house with a symmetrical plan and solid masonry walls. It has. Federal-style fanlights, slender fluted columns flanking entries and hearths, delicate rope molding, and a graceful curving staircase. The two-story front and rear classical porticoes and stucco cladding were added later, possibly around 1860. By the 1930s the house had seriously deteriorated. Concerned citizens purchased the former plantation in the hopes of preserving it as a Confederate shrine. In 1960 the state of South Carolina purchased Rose Hill Plantation and opened it to the public as a state park.

  “P” is for Population. South Carolina’s population exceeded four million in 2000, but its growth over more than three centuries had been relatively slow and erratic. It was not until 1730 and the establishment of rice as a staple crop that the colony’ population began to increase significantly. When cotton became a cash crop, upcountry counties grew, but the lowcountry’s population stagnated. During the 19th century, out-migration of white residents and in the 20th century black Carolinians caused the population increase much more slowly than the national average Throughout much of its history, a majority of the state’s population was African American; from 1708-1790; and from 1820-1922. Despite the rapid growth in suburban and coastal counties, at the turn of the twenty-first century, South Carolina still had a sizable rural population.

  “P” is for Poppenheim, Mary Barnett [1866-1936], and Louisa Bouknight Poppenheim [1868-1957]. Clubwomen, social reformers. After graduating from Vassar, the Poppenheim sisters returned to their native Charleston with leadership skills and a desire to promote women’s education. They helped bring the burgeoning women’s club movement to Charleston as founding members and officers of numerous women’s civic and cultural organizaitons. Louisa played a major role in bringing southern women into the national club movement. She used the Keystone, a monthly journal she and her sister owned, to encourage southern clubwomen’s activities. While Louisa embraced women’s clubs, Mary focused on the United Daughters of the Confederacy and served as president of the South Carolina Division and then president-general of the national organization. The Poppenheim sisters lived in their parents’ Meeting Street home in Charleston until their deaths.

  “P” is for Pope, Thomas Harrington, Jr. [1913-1999]. Attorney, legislator, historian. In 1936 while still a first-year law school student, Pope was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Newberry County . In1939 he became counsel to the state Unemployment Insurance Commission. During World War II he served in North Africa and Italy. When one of Newberry’s house seats became vacant in 1945, local supporters arranged his election in his absence. In 1949 he was elected Speaker of the House. His term was short, as he resigned to run for governor. Soon after Pope announced his candidacy, James F. Byrnes entered the race and Pope lost badly to the elder statesman. He never again sought public office. Long a student of local history, Thomas Harrington Pope, Jr. published a highly-regarded two volume history of Newberry County.

  “P” is for Pompion Hill Chapel [Berkeley County]. Built in 1763, Pompion Hill Chapel is among the finest remaining examples of the Anglican parish churches of the lowcountry. Situated near Huger, the chapel stands on a bluff along the eastern branch of the Cooper River. The chapel is built on a rectangular plan and features Georgia styling. Its exterior features include a steeply pitched clipped gable slate roof; arched windows; and a projecting chancel with a Palladian window. The interior is finished with white plaster walls, a cove ceiling, and a red brick floor laid in a herringbone pattern. The dais-style pulpit was carved from native red cedar. The chancel is trimmed with Doric pilasters and is enclosed by a balustrade. Pompion Hill Chapel, a fine example of colonial American architecture was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

  “P” is for Pomaria Nursery. Established in Newberry District in 1840 by William Summer, Pomaria Nursery was one of the most influential and prestigious nurseries in the antebellum South. Among the fruit varieties developed at the nursery were the Pomaria Greening apple, the Pomaria Gage plum, the Pomaria Seedling strawberry, and the Pomaria Hebe pear. In the 1850s, the nursery produced ornamentals as well fruit trees. In 1858 its catalog offered 1,091 varieties of trees, plants, and shrubs—a number that had increased to more than 1,900 in 1862. In addition to the main nursery in Pomaria, there was an ornamental garden in Columbia and a rose garden in Fairfield District. Despite having gone into bankruptcy after the Civil War, Pomaria Nursery continued in operation until 1878 when its last catalog was issued.

  “M” is for Miles, William Porcher [1822-1899]. Educator, congressman. After graduating from the College of Charleston, Miles joined the faculty as professor mathematics. In 1855 he left the college, entered politics, and was elected mayor of Charleston. Two years later he was elected to Congress. After secession he served as a representative in the provisional and regular Confederate congress. He served as chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the Confederate House of Representatives. In 1861 he proposed a new design for the Confederate flag to replace the “Stars and Bars.” Although never officially adopted, Miles’ design, the “Southern Cross,” was used by the Army of Northern Virginia as its battle flag for much of the remainder of the war. In 1880, William Porcher Miles became president of South Carolina College when it was reorganized as the South Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts.

  “M” is for Milburn, Frank Pierce [1868-1926]. Architect. A native of Kentucky, Milburn established a practice in Charlotte in 1896. In 1899 he received the commission to complete the South Carolina State House. Adding a neo-classical dome and porticos to the building, he completed the project. He designed more than fifty buildings in the state including courthouses in Anderson and Greenville, city halls in Columbia and Darlington, Alumni Hall at Wofford, and the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston. In 1902 he moved to Washington and joined up with Michael Heister and the firm garnered numerous government commissions. Milburn’s designs were stylistically eclectic and generally derivative. He favored the neoclassical style, and beaux arts and Romanesque influences were evident in much of his work. Frank Pierce Milburn was one of the New South’s most successful and prolific architects.

  “M” is for Migrant Labor. Migrant labor in South Carolina involves farm work done by individuals whose principal employment is seasonal agriculture and who travel and live in temporary housing. South Carolina lies on the easternmost of three traditional streams of migrant farmworkers who harvest much of the nation’s crops each year. As of the twenty-first century, from early summer through fall, about fourteen thousand migrant workers could be found in all parts of South Carolina but in greatest concentrations in the lowcountry and in Clarendon and Sumter counties [vegetables], the Ridge area and Spartanburg County [peaches] and the Pee Dee [tobacco]. Between 1980 and 2000, the traditional mix of African American and white migrant labor in the eastern stream and in South Carolina was replaced by a preponderance of Latinos, mostly Mexicans.

  “M” is for Mignot, Louis Rèmy [1831-1870]. Painter. A native of Charleston, Mignot studied at the Academy of Fine Art at the Hague for five years. He returned to the U.S. and became actively involved in the New York Art world. He specialized in landscape painting in the manner of the Hudson River School. His landscapes were exhibited at the prestigious Century Association and the National Academy of Design, where he was elected an associate academician in 1858. Among his associates was Frederic Edwin Church, the leading exponent of the second generation of Hudson River School painters. In 1857, the two traveled to Central and South America where the sketches Mignot made later became some of his most acclaimed canvases. According to art historians, Louis Rèmy Mignot “was arguably the most accomplished southern-born painter of his generation.”