Sunday, July 25, 2010

Manse Jolly: Fact and Fiction

He stands out in South Carolina history as a true rebel. He was a reactionary leader who waged a war of terror against the occupying Northern troops in the years following the end of the Civil War. His motive was revenge for the loss of five brothers to Yankee fire. His name was Manse Jolly. His story is the stuff of legend and most of it happened in and around Anderson County.

Manse Jolly
(d. 1869)

Like most local figures of note, the facts about Manse Jolly fade when the fiction begins. He was larger than life before he reached the age of 25. By this time, he was considered the Robin Hood of South Carolina. And while his commanders may have surrendered at Appomattox, Jolly kept on fighting. But before we get to the myths, lets see some facts:
  1. He was born in the Lebanon area of Anderson County some years before the war, the exact date is unknown. He was 6' 4", had red hair and could read and write.
  2. Jolly served as a Confederate Cavalry scout in the 1st S.C. Calvary, Company F. He was an expert horseman and well skilled in fighting with knife, pistol, and rifle.
  3. He was one of seven sons, all of which served in the war. Jolly and a younger brother were the only ones who survived. Of the five dead, four died on the battlefield and one in a field hospital.
  4. Upon returning to Anderson, he vowed that he would kill five Yankees for each brother who died. As of 1932, his birthplace was still standing, near the Anderson-Liberty Highway. Locals tell of a well on the property that was filled with bones and tattered uniforms bearing buttons engraved with "U.S."
His targets were the 1st Maine, 33rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops,  garrisoned in Anderson and the white Volunteer troops supporting them. The sight of the garrison so angered him that he soon killed his first victim, a member of the Union garrison. A few days later, a second member of the garrison was found dead. Jolly claimed the murder. The garrison commander sent out squads to capture the renegade. While they often found him, the willy Jolly would escape, usually taking one or two more victims.

Manse Jolly's last ride was made during late 1866 to early 1867, when he dashed on his horse, Dixie, down Fant Street through the Yankee camp. He yelled and screamed at the top of his lungs, firing pistols in each hand. So startled by the rebel yell, the Union troops thought they were under attack. Jolly escaped from his Union pursuers and left Anderson County for good. He made his way to Texas, where he established a new life.

It is estimated that Jolly killed 23 white soldiers before fleeing his home (some reports take the number to 100). The number of black soldiers he killed is unknown. His legend grew in the telling and it was reported that he killed more Union soldiers on his way to Texas. Manse Jolly died on July 8, 1869 near his home in Texas. He drowned in a river as he was trying to cross it. He had been married for one year and left a wife behind. His daughter was born a few months later, and his descendants live on today.

His remains were laid to rest in a forgotten cemetery in eastern Milam County, Texas (the Little River Cemetery). His tombstone simply says: "Sacred to the Memory of Manse Jolly, age 29 years." He is remembered as a murderer, a terrorist, a rebel, a hero, or a bushwacker, depending on who you talk to.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Declaration of Independence

This year will mark the 234th anniversary of the thirteen colonies declaring their independence from the British. July 4, Independence Day, is often celebrated with the firing of fireworks, colorful parades, and family and neighborhood cookouts.

The timeline for the Declaration of Independence can be confusing. The actual declaration was made on July 2, 1776. It was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4 and circulated for printing. On July 9, the New York Delegation voted in favor of the Declaration, making support unanimous among the colonies. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson claimed that the document was signed on July 4. However, some evidence suggests that the delegates did not complete the signing until August 2. An interesting footnote to the document's history is that  Adams and Jefferson, the only two signers who were elected president, died on the same day: July 4, 1826.

Declaration of Independence
(John Trumbull)

Many confuse the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Each serves a useful purpose on the country's founding but they are also distinct and different documents. The Declaration of Independence does just what its title says: it lists the justifications, reasons, and causes of the thirteen American colonies breaking free from British rule. The Constitution is responsible for the legal framework in the United States. While the Constitution has its foundation in the Declaration, the Declaration is not a legal document. The Declaration lays out no law or statute. In fact, after the Constitution was written, the Declaration was largely forgotten. It had served its purpose and was discarded.

Today, the document is preserved, along with original copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, in a glass case in the Capital Rotunda. During the evening hours, the case is stored in an underground vault. Faded and hard to ready, the document has retaken its place of importance among the documents relating to the country's founding.

1823 Facsimile of the Original Declaration

In terms is current events, the first two paragraphs are worth repeating:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Hallowed words written by men at a time when such uttering such words meant death. Do we have the same courage in our hearts today? Are we worthy of their legacy?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Heyward, Lynch, Middleton and Rutlidge: South Carolina's Signers of the Declaration of Independence

During the fall of 1776, 56 men signed a document that would be known to history as the Declaration of Independence. In this document lay the justification of the American Revolution. In the decades that have followed, countries around the world have used the Declaration as the basis for their own declarations of independence from the old colonial powers. But its influence was not just on colonies. The American Revolution was the inspiration for the French Revolution, although the Founding Fathers would have had little tolerance for the violence of the French during the Reign of Terror.

Here are some facts about the signers:
  • The first, largest, and most famous signature is that of John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress.
  • The average age of the signers was 45.
  • The youngest signer was Edward Rutledge (age 26). Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest.
  • By occupation, 22 were lawyers, 14 farmers, and 4 were doctors.
  • 9 of the signers were immigrants, 1 was an orphan and 1 was a Catholic.
  • Two future presidents signed: John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).
  • The first signer to die was Philip Livingston, June 12, 1778 at the age of 62. Charles Carroll was the last, November 14, 1832, at the age of 95.
Each colony sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Four were from South Carolina. These are men you probably have not heard of. Their names are not among those we consider well-known. But their actions led to the greatest out cry of freedom the world had ever seen. They were all attorneys, three captives of the British, one became Governor of South Carolina, and one is connected with disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. Their names were Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutlidge.

Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809)
Born in St. Luke's Parish, South Carolina on July 28, 1746, Heyward received a private classical education and studied law. He served in the Continental Congress 1775-1778. In addition to the Declaration, he was also a signer of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States. He resigned from the Congress in 1778 and returned to South Carolina where he served as a judge (1778-1798).

Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Ole Erekson, c 1876

During the Revolutionary war, Heyward he was taken prisoner while in command of a Militia force during the siege of Charleston. He was held at St. Augustine, Florida. His plantation, White Hall, was burned and his slaves (totaling 130) were taken and to Jamaica where they were sold to sugar plantation owners. He died March 6, 1809 and was interred in the Heyward Family Cemetery, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, SC.

See also:

Thomas Lynch Jr. (1749-1779)
Born in Winyah, South Carolina on August 5, 1749, he graduated from Cambridge University and practiced law. He was a captain of a South Carolina Regimental Company during 1775 and a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, replacing his ailing father.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Ole Erekson, c 1876
Lynch signed the Declaration in his father's place. Soon after signing the Declaration of Independence, he fell ill and retired from Congress to his plantation, Hopsewee. At the close of 1776 he and his wife sailed for the West Indies. The ship was lost at sea with no survivors. It was lost in the area now known as the Bermuda Triangle and is considered the first ship reported missing from the area.

See also:

Arthur Middleton (1742-1787)
Born in Charleston, South Carolina on June 26, 1742, Middleton was a graduate of Cambridge University. He was active in politics most of his adult life. Prior to the Revolution, he was a member of the Charleston Council of Safety (1775), a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776). Shortly after signing the Declaration, Middleton helped design the Great Seal of South Carolina.
Arthur Middleton
Ole Erekson, c 1876
He was among those captured by the British when Charleston fell in 1781. He was a prisoner for over a year and witnesses the loss of his fortunes. He remained active in politics until his death on New Years Day 1787.

See also:

Edward Rutlidge (1749-1800)
Born into the local Charlestonian aristocracy on November 23, 1749, Middleton was a graduate of Oxford, a student at Middle Temple (London), and a member of the English Bar (Lawyer). He was very active in state politics, serving as a state legislator, a representative to the Continental Congress (at age 27) (1774-76, 1779), captain of the Charleston Artillery Battalion (1776-1779), a state legislator (1782-1796), a member of the College of Electors (1788, 1792, 1796, and finally, Governor of South Carolina (1798-1800).
Edward Rutlidge
Ole Erekson, c 1876
During the Revolutionary War, Rutledge was engaged in several important battles while serving in the Charleston Artillery Battalion. He was captured at the fall of Charleston and held as prisoner until July 1781. He continued to serve his state after the war, finally serving a Governor from 1798 to his death on January 23, 1800. He was fifty.

See also:
As we celebrate the 234th anniversary of our independence this weekend, take a moment and reflect back on the lives of the men who, by their very signatures, were turning their backs on the greatest power the world had seen, and walking bravely into a new world.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Abbeville - A Southern Gem

To tell the history of Abbeville is beyond the scope of this blog (and the town is lacking in a complete written history). However, the small town is worth discussing and contains enough history to satisfy any seeker. Allow me to point out some of the highlights of this southern village.

Early History
Located atop a small bluff, the site was selected by General Andrew Pickens in 1764 as his first home in the Upcountry. It was here that he married Rebbecca Calhoun, aunt of the future John C. Calhoun. By the mid-1760s, Pickens had built a blockhouse near the intersection of Cambridge Street and Washington Street. During the Revolutionary War, the blockhouse was burned by the Tories. For weeks, the Pickens family lived in the woods near the burned settlement.

Pickens at the Blockhouse
(Wilber George Kurtz)

In 1769, a delegation of Huguenots from the nearby settlement of New Bordeaux, led by Dr. John de la Howe, participated in the selection of a site for the county seat in 1769. De la Howe is reported to have persuaded the selection committee to name the town “Abbeville” after his native city in France.

During the decade following the Revolutionary War, Abbeville took prominence as the courthouse for Abbeville District. Abbeville District included the present counties of Abbeville, Greenwood, and the northern half of McCormick. Abbeville was partitioned in 1897 (Greenwood) and 1916 (McCormick).

Famous Abbevillians
Arguable, Abbeville's most famous son is John C. Calhoun, born near the present Abbeville-McCormick County line and himself the subject of a detailed blog entry, so I won't repeat the information here. However, two others merit reviewing.

Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, born February 1, 1834 in nearby Newberry. Turner was an author, civil rights activists, and one of the founders of the African Methodist Church. He was born a free-man during a time of slavery. He was raised by his mother and her grandmother. Turner’s life was guided by the principle of faith in the capabilities of himself and his people. It was this drive that helped him to succeed. At the age of 19, he worked as a janitor for an Abbeville law firm and learned to read and write.

In 1853, Turner entered the ministry and was ordained as a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South. In 1856, he married Eliza Ann Preacher of Columbia and in 1858 he joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. He was attracted to their belief in black pride. Worship should be Afro-centric, as opposed to Euro-centric. He studied under Bishop Daniel Payne. Turner was instrumental in the desegregation of the U.S. Army during the Civil War (1863). He became the first African-American to hold the position of Chaplain in the U.S. Army.

The post-war years were a time for change for Turner. He walked back to Georgia and began to found AME churches in the state (some say over one hundred churches). He was active in politics, playing a part in the founding of the state's Republican party. He was elected as a state representative in 1868 but only held office briefly. He was expelled when a group of white legislators voted him out. After this rejection, Turner found that he could use the pulpit as a political tool.

In 1880, Turner became the first southern preacher to be elected to lead the AME church. His views sparked controversy among his followers and others. His disillusionment of the state of race relations caused him to be an early advocate of African colonization, believing that this was the best hope for black equality. He conducted the controversial ordination of a female deacon (Sarah Ann Hughes). And at a speech during the first Black Baptist Convention, Turner announced that, “We have every right to believe that God is a negro.” In the end, his stances drove many away. He died along on May 8, 1915 after suffering a stroke.

Thomas D. Howie was a twentieth century national hero who was known as "the Major of St. Lo" in World War II. Howie was born on April 12, 1908 in Abbeville. He graduated from the Citadel in 1929 where he was president of his class and a star football player. After teaching at Staunton Military Academy, Howie joined the Virginia National Guard. He entered active duty with the 116th Infantry Regiment in 1941 and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

On July 13, 1944, Major Howie was assigned to command the 3rd Battalion. On July 16, the 3rd Battalion used hand grenades and bayonets to break through the German lines and join the 2nd Battalion, which was isolated and nearly out of food and ammunition. Howie left the 2nd Battalion to defend the position, reporting that they were "too cut up", and planned to use the 3rd Battalion alone to capture Saint-Lô.

On July 17, Howie phoned Major General Charles Gerhardt, said "See you in St. Lo", and issued orders for the attack. Shortly afterward, he was killed by shrapnel during a mortar attack. The next day, the 3rd Battalion entered Saint-Lô, with Howie's body on the hood of the lead jeep, at Gerhard's request, so that Howie would be the first American to enter the town. Howie is buried at the World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

(Brian Scott)

The town of Saint-Lô erected a monument to Howie. In 1956, Collier’s magazine printed a story, "The Major of St. Lo" by Cornelius Ryan. It was televised on Cavalcade of America on June 5, 1956, with the late Peter Graves playing the part of Howie. Howie was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the French Legion of Honor.

Historical Locations
Presently, the city of Abbeville has over 300 properties and buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places as either part of the Abbeville Historic District or as their own entry (Armistead Burt House,
Abbeville County CourthouseAbbeville Opera House, and Trinity Episcopal Church and Cemetery.)  Many of the sites are accessible via a walking tour, divided into North and South sections. Brochures of the two trails (including maps) are available at the Visitor's Center on the south side of the square. The Burt-Stark Mansion is open for tours on Friday and Saturday. Trinity Episcopal is usually open during day-light hours for self-guided tours.

(Brian Scott)

Key sites on the square include the Opera House, CourthouseBelmont Inn, and the Confederate Monument. The Opera House and Courthouse were built in 1908. They represent fine examples of the Beaux Arts Style.

(Brian Scott)

The Opera House was dedicated on October 1, 1908. The Great Divide opened on the stage on October 10, making it the first theatrical production in the house. The stage played host to performances of Ben-Hur (complete with horses), The Clansman, and the Ziegfeld Follies among other acts. By the mid-1920s, the theater had stopped live performances and was dedicated to motion pictures. It remained so until it was closed in the early 1960s. The theater was restored and reopened in 1968. It continues to provide a full season of theater each year.

The courthouse located adjacent to the Opera House is the 5th courthouse in Abbeville. The first courthouse was a wood-frame building that was torn down in 1825. The second courthouse was a two-story brick building demolished after discovery of workmen's fraud (kaolin used instead of lime in mortar). Robert Mills designed the third courthouse (c. 1829) during his residency in Abbeville. In 1853, one corner of the courthouse was found to be sinking and the building was deemed unsafe because of cracks in wall, resulting in the fourth courthouse in 1853. This building was destroyed by fire in 1872. The sixth courthouse was built and lasted until the present (and sixth) courthouse was built in 1908.

Abbeville County Courthouse (1908)
(Brian Scott)

The Belmont Inn (1903) was originally called the Eureka. It served a diverse customer base: theater companies playing the the nearby opera house and drummers in the textile trade. The Belmont Inn has undergone several restorations and is currently the only full service hotel in the city limits.

(Brian Scott)

Standing in the center of the county square is the Confederate Monument. Standing forty feet high, the monument was originally erected on August 23, 1906. It stood, unchanged, until December 28, 1991 when it was destroyed by fire. An odd practice of using the monument as the base for the square Christmas tree was the cause. Interestingly enough, some citizens had protested the use for years, predicting exactly the type of accident that happened. Italian artists Franco Rossi was commissioned to recreate the monument, which was dedicated on December 14, 1996.

(Brian Scott)

The Cradle and Grave of the Confederacy
Two events have given Abbeville the nickname "Cradle and Grave of the Confederacy." On November 22, 1860, the first organized secession meeting was held on a hill located at the junction of Secession Avenue and Branch Street. Charleston Judge A.G. Magrath called for "immediate action on the part of South Carolina at any and every hazard."

(Wilbur George Kurtz)

Local dignitaries Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham, Samuel McGowan, and Major Armistead Burt also spoke in favor of secession. Those in attendance unanimously adopted a resolution favoring secession of the State. A "committee of twenty" appointed Edward Noble, John A. Calhoun, Thomas Thompson, John H. Wilson, and D.L. Wardlaw to attend the state convention, held on December 17, 1860 Convention. Within one month, South Carolina became the first state to secede.

The question of secession was ultimately answered by the events of the Civil War. After the fall of Richmond and the apparent loss of the cause, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled south. He arrived in Abbeville on May 2, 1865. (See this list for details on the locations key to Davis' flight.) He stayed with his long-time friend, Col. Armistead Burt. It was in the Burt house that Davis held his final Confederate Council of War.

(Brian Scott)

The decision was made for Davis to continue south into Georgia and then escape to the West. Davis left the house the following morning and crossed the Savannah River into Georgia on May 3 near the location of Fort Charlotte. He was captured on May 10 near Irwinsville, Georgia. The table where Davis held his last council and the bed in which he slept are in display in the Burt-Stark House.

Last Cabinet Meeting
(Wilbur George Kurtz)

There is more than can be said about Abbeville. The town had its dark side. Several lynchings took place along with a "whiskey war" in the downtown. Ghosts haunt the third balcony in the Opera House and spirits of former guests walk the halls of the Belmont Inn. A 14-hour standoff between a family and local police resulted in the death of two officers in 2003. But these are other stories for other days. I hope that these little nuggets of history are enough to cause you to not forget this southern gem of a town.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Roger C. Peace Plaza and the History of the American Flag

Americans love their holidays. We find reasons to celebrate almost everything in our culture, both the obscure (Bean Day: January 6) to the important (Christmas: December 25). Located in the middle of the list (both between obscure and important and January and December), is Flag Day (June 14). Located in downtown Greenville are a series of plaques that communicate the history of the flags that flew over South Carolina. But first, a little history on Flag Day.

Flag Day was created to commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States Flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a "Flag Day" in 1916; Congress made it official in 1949. Flag Day is considered a minor holiday. It is not a Federal Holiday and only one state (Pennsylvania) considers it a state holiday.

Roger Craft Peace Plaza - Looking West

To experience a visual history of the American Flag, one simple needs to visit the Roger Craft Peace Plaza at the corner of Broad and Main in downtown Greenville. While serving as the main entryway to the Greenville News, the plaza is also home to a life-size statue of Nathanael Greene, the namesake of Greenville, and plaques dedicated to Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens. Lining the north corner of the News building are several flags along with dedication plaques.

"Greenville's General" by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson

Betsy Ross Flag: Remembered as the first official flag of the United States. This is the familiar flag with a circle of white stars on a blue field. Many historians and experts doubt that Betsy Ross actually made the flag. The legend of her sewing the flag for Washington was published in 1870, over 30 years after her death. The source was a grandson of Ross named William J. Canby.

Guilford Court House Flag: Prior to the adoption of an official flag, designs such as the Guilford Court House Flag were common. This flag included thirteen eight-pointed blue stars on a white field. It is believed to be the oldest example of a national flag. The original flag (from 1781) is now located the North Carolina Museum of History.

Roger Craft Peace Plaza - North Corner

Moultrie Flag: This flag flew in Charleston during the Revolutionary War. It was blue with a white crescent in the left corner. The Moultrie Flag has been described as the first American flag to fly in the South. The crescent also appears in the state flag of South Carolina.

Old Glory: Old Glory is unique among national flags in that it is designed to change. The flag started with 13 starts. With the addition of each state, a new star is added. The most recent star was added on August 21, 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state.

South Carolina Flag: The familiar palmetto and star design is one of the oldest flag design in existence, dating back to 1765.

These flags are just a small example of the history of flags that have flown in the United States. For more information on the history of flags in the United States, check out these links:

Early US Flags
Flag Timeline
History of the American Flag

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Duke's Mayonnaise - Born in the Heart of Greenville

Located along the banks of the Reedy River, between the Peace Center for the Performing Arts and the Main Street Bridge, sits an industrial and culinary landmark. Now known as the Wyche Pavilion, this open-air brick building, has served as a home two different industries during the 20th century.

Built in 1904 by J.E. Sirrine, the building was originally the home of the Greenville Coach Factory, a company that had existed in the downtown area for over 60 years. The factory was part of a group of buildings along the river now included in the Reedy River Industrial Historic District. These buildings are the only surviving structures from the period and represent the industries that existed in Greenville at the time. In addition to the stunning architecture, the Coach Factory was the only factory to be build on the Reedy that was not connected to the textile industry.

But times were not good for the Coach Factory. The introduction of the automobile brought the coach industry to an end. In 1911, the factory closed its doors. The building remained unused for nearly 15 years when it was bought in 1925 to produce a new item: Duke's Mayonnaise.

Eugenia Thomas Duke began producing her home brand of the creamy white condiment in 1917 in her small Greenville kitchen. Duke (not related to the North Carolina Dukes, the namesakes of Duke University) used her mayonnaise to make sandwiches which she sold to the trainees at Camp Sevier, a World War I training camp located near Taylors. Duke's recipe was her own creation. She used all natural ingredients, no sugars, and more egg yolks than any other mayonnaise on the market. To this day, the recipe has been unchanged.

Eugenia T. Duke

Eugenia Duke sold the recipe to the C.F. Sauer Company in 1929. Sauer continued the tradition of making Duke's Mayonnaise in downtown Greenville until the facility was simply not big enough to keep up with production. The Sauer Company moved its facility to Mauldin, SC, where it produces 240 jars of mayonnaise per minute.

Eugenia Duke moved to California, but her love for sandwiches did not end. She started the Duchess Sandwich Company, and sold her sandwiches by the thousands to shipyards during World War II. Eugenia Thomas Duke died in 1968 at the age of 90.

Over the years, the building was gutted, the floors torn out, and the windows removed. What remains is an arched building, a favorite for photographers, that commands a view of the Reedy River. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and is used by the Peace Center for events.

Duke's Mayonnaise was a staple in my home. As a child, I remember the familiar black and yellow label in the fridge. It was used in almost everything...from sandwiches to salads. So, the next time you sit down to eat a BLT made with Duke's, remember that it all began nearly a century ago in a small kitchen in Greenville.