In My Father's House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina

By Orville Vernon Burton | Go to book overview

I. Edgefield, South Carolina

There is nothing that distinguishes the settlement of Edgefield from that of other districts in the upper and middle country.

Robert Mills, Statistics of South Carolina

Midway between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Edgefield County (a "district" until 1868) was on the western border of South Carolina, separated from Georgia by the Savannah River (see Map I).1 To the north lay Abbeville District, and to the east, separated from Edgefield by the Saluda River, Newberry. In the northeast corner, where it joined Newberry and Abbeville, Edgefield intersected the southeast tip of Laurens. To the south were Barnwell, Orangeburg, and Lexington. Edgefield itself, 1,702 square miles, was more a region than a county. In 1860 Edgefield, with 951,451 acres of land, was the second largest district in the state after the Charleston Coastal District.

After the Civil War new counties were formed from old Edgefield County (see Map 2). In 1871 the southernmost section of Edgefield County (along with areas from the northern parts of Orangeburg, Barnwell, and Lexingtoncounties) was detached to form Aiken County. This area of old Edgefield County included the town of Hamburg, the Horse Creek area where William Gregg built his famed antebellum textile mill, the town of Aiken, and the rich land of Beech Island, where antebellum governor and U.S. senator James Henry Hammond had his home, Redcliffe. During the 1895 constitutional convention the county of Saluda was created entirely from Edgefield County. This section was the home of the prominent Butler family, which included Pierce Mason Butler, governor of South Carolina, as well as two heroes of the Alamo, Commander William Barret Travis and James Butler Bonham.

In 1897 Greenwood County was formed from Edgefield and Abbeville; this northern part of the section was the home of Congressman Preston Brooks, famed for his attack on Senator Charles Sumner, and the home of Benjamin E. Mays, a well-known twentieth-century educator. Finally, in 1917 part of the area that had been taken from Edgefield County to form Greenwood County was combined with a part of Abbeville County to form McCormick County. This northwestern section of the Edgefield District was the home of postbel

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In My Father's House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • List of Tables xi
  • List of Figures and Maps xiii
  • List of Illustrations xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Introduction 3
  • I. Edgefield, South Carolina 14
  • 2. Edgefield from the White Perspective 47
  • 3. the White Family Andlb Antebellum Social Structure 104
  • 4. the Slave Family 148
  • 5. the Free Afro-American in Antebellum Edgefield 203
  • 6. the Culture of Postbellum Afro-American Family Life 225
  • 7. Black and White Postbellum Household and Family Structure 260
  • Conclusion 314
  • Appendix I. Methodology 325
  • Appendix 2. Occupational Groupings 333
  • Notes 335
  • Bibliography 421
  • Index 463
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