05 July 2015

Reminder: July 2015 Research Room Schedule

Due to staff shortage, there are a lot of adjustments to the BDC's Research Room schedule for July.
  •  No research appointments on July 8, 9, 15, 21 and 22. 
  • Please note that the Research Room will be closed Friday, July 17.

28 June 2015

Every Hero Has A Story: Thomas Heyward, Jr.

75.9 % of voters— more than three-quarters of the participants — named the Declaration of Independence the most influential document in American history. Significantly “the most ardent revolutionary from the Beaufort District” signed it. In honor of the 4th of July, this “Every Hero has a Story” entry highlights the contribution of Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of South Carolina's four signers of the Declaration of Independence.
According to Dr. Larry Rowland, “The saga of the Heyward family of the Carolina Lowcountry is nearly unsurpassed in American history. Colonel Daniel Heyward fought Indians and Spaniards in the early eighteenth century and carved an empire from the Southern frontier to become the largest planter in South Carolina and one of the richest men in America. His oldest son, Thomas, signed the Declaration of Independence, and his youngest son, Nathaniel, became one of the leading practitioners of tidal culture rice and the largest slave owner in the history of the South.”
Thomas Heyward, Jr., son of Daniel Heyward and his wife Mary Miles Heyward, was born at Old House Plantation, St. Luke's Parish, on July 28, 1746. Old House Plantation, near where Hwy 336 heads toward Ridgeland in what is now Jasper County, was his father's plantation. Trained in the law in Charleston and in England, he was an attorney and planter.
In 1773, he married Elizabeth Matthews in Charleston. Heyward was a member of the Council of Safety in 1775-1776 and of the Continental Congress from 1776-1778. Heyward served as a Patriot soldier and was captured when Charleston fell to the British in 1779. While Heyward was imprisoned at St. Augustine, his wife Elizabeth died in Philadelphia. They had one son who survived until adulthood. In 1783, Heyward returned to his rice-growing White Hall Plantation. From 1785 to 1809, he split his time between his home in St. Luke's Parish and his Charleston residence at 87 Church Street. In later years, he was a circuit court judge in South Carolina.
On May 4, 1786 he took as his second wife, Elizabeth Savage, with whom he had three children who survived until adulthood. Thomas Heyward, Jr. died on April 17, 1809 and is buried in the family cemetery at Old House.

For more than a quarter century, the Paul Hamilton Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution have held a ceremony at Old House Cemetery commemorating Heyward's service to our country in early July, usually attended by at least some of the many direct descendants of Heyward alive today.
The local Beaufort chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named in his honor. Drop by the Research Room to see a document signed by Thomas Heyward, Jr. in his capacity as a circuit court judge. The document was donated to the Beaufort District Collection in 2007 by the Thomas Heyward, Jr. Chapter, DAR.
Want to drive out to Heyward’s grave in Old House Cemetery? Traveling north on S.C. 170, turn left onto S.C. 462. After about eight miles, there is a historical marker on the right. At the marker, turn right onto a dirt road. Old House Cemetery is about 100 yards from the highway.

We’ve posted updates to our list of materials about Thomas Heyward, Jr. in our Wordpress blog. You can also read more about Heyward and the other signers in Biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration of American Independence by B. John Lossing (1858) on the HathiTrust website or on the Internet Archive website.  

Learn more about the fascinating history of the Declaration of Independence from its caretakers at the National Archives.

Gentle reminder: The Library system will be closed Friday, July 3rd and Saturday, July 4th. Regular hours resume Monday, July 6th. Have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend. See July 2015 schedule for additional closures due to staff shortage.

25 June 2015

Research Room Schedule Adjustments in July

Please put these adjustments to the Research Room Schedule on your July calendar:
  • The Library system will be closed Fri., July 3rd and Sat., July 4th to celebrate our nation's independence.
  • The BDC Research Room will be closed Fri., July 17th for staff to perform professional duties off-site.

Due to staff shortage, we cannot schedule research appointments on the following dates in July:
  • Wed., July 1
  • Thurs., July 2
  • Wed., July 8
  • Thurs., July 9
  • Wed., July 15
  • Tues., July 21
  • Wed., July 22
Please contact me before June 30 at 3 pm to schedule an appointment for Tues., July 7th. 

21 June 2015

Every Hero Has a Story: Rachel C. Mather

An unsung heroine who confronted the suffering left in the wake of that "Tide of Death," the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893, was Rachel C. Mather. 
Mather tapped into her religious, educational, and philanthropic circles writing letters to solicit donations to ease some of the hardships she saw around her. With those donations, she distributed food, clothing, and occasionally a few coins to the endless stream of sufferers arriving at the Mather School doors, a boarding school she had founded in 1867 with support from the American Missionary Association to educate formerly enslaved girls. According to The Reconstruction Era in Beaufort County Local Initiative for National Designation Report (2003), Mather School "actually served as more of a social agency that provided Biblical instruction and lessons in home economics" than as a general educational facility for African-American women. She felt deeply for the people she served.  From the start, she used her payment from teaching to buy food for the freedmen as "she could not 'send away these pitiful cadaverous looking people without giving them a few qts. or pints of grits.'" Her actions foreordained her reaction to the survivors of the hurricane.

Much of what we know of the personal tragedies caused by the hurricane comes from the accounts she published at a cost of $120 in 1894.  Storm Swept Coast is replete with personal accounts of what transpired during and in the immediate aftermath of the deadliest natural disaster in Beaufort District's long history. However, Palmetto Post newspaper editor Samuel H. Rodgers criticized the expense.


 Yet Rodgers retracted his criticism in the next week's edition of the newspaper: "We did her an injustice with the lights now before us, and hasten to remedy the evil. The book is to be sold.” He goes on to say that “Miss Mather pays a tribute to the Red Cross which many think it in no way deserves.  Why, with an amount not over $10,000 Miss Mather did more real good work among the sufferers than the vaunted Red Cross with four times the amount." 

Read some contemporary newspaper accounts of her activities and see a list of materials that we have here in the Research Room about her life at http://bit.ly/1paZgEz

BTW: Our next project planned with the Lowcountry Digital Library is the digitization of Storm Swept Coast and our small collection of hurricane of 1893 photographs so that anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can learn about the most devastating natural disaster to ever befall this area.

15 June 2015

Every Hero Has a Story: Susie King Taylor

This year the theme for the Library system's Summer Reading programs is "Every Hero Has a Story." Our Youth Services personnel are emphasizing superheroes and everyday heroes in our community (fire fighters, police, emergency response personnel, etc.) through programs and fun events. (Calendar).  Because our responsibility is local history, I am going to highlight just a few of the historical everyday heroes in Beaufort District's past in posts here through July 17th.

An unsung heroine who confronted the injustice surrounding her was Susie King Taylor.  Taylor served the 33rd USCT [the United States Colored Troops within the Union Army raised locally] as a nurse and a teacher. She did so without payment. She taught and nursed here in Beaufort among the freedmen being treated in the Contraband hospitals.

She wrote this in Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers:

"In this 'land of the free' we are burned, tortured, and denied a fair trial, murdered for any imaginary wrong conceived in the brain of the negro-hating white man. There is no redress for us from a government which promised to protect all under its flag. It seems a mystery to me. They say, 'One flag, one nation, one country indivisible.' Is this true? Can we say this truthfully, when one race is allowed to burn, hang, and inflict the most horrible torture weekly, monthly, on another? No, we cannot sing 'My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of Liberty'! It is hollow mockery. The Southland laws are all on the side of the white, and they do just as they like to the negro, whether in the right or not... I do not uphold my race when they do wrong. They ought to be punished, but the innocent are made to suffer as well as the guilty, and I hope the time will hasten when it will be stopped forever ... I hope the day is not far distant when the two races will reside in peace in the Southland, and we will sing with sincere and truthful hearts, 'My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of Liberty, of thee I sing.'"

You can read the electronic version of this memoir within the "Documenting the American South" website hosted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by clicking on http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/taylorsu/taylorsu.html.

The BDC has printed copies of her memoirs in two forms:
SC 973.7 TAY Reminiscences of My Life in Camp, Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968
SC 973.7 TAY A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs, edited by Patricia W. Romero with a new introduction by Willie Lee Rose, Markus Wiener Publishing, 1988.

If you want to introduce your children to important figures in Beaufort District History, we suggest The Diary of Susie King Taylor, Civil War Nurse. This is an abridged version of her memoirs edited and illustrated for children. You can find it in our children's biography sections at Beaufort Branch and Bluffton Branch libraries, call number: J B TAYLOR.