Walter Edgar


Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his A.B. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens. In 1972 he joined the faculty of the History Department and in 1980 was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies. Dr. Edgar is the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies and the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History. He retired from USC in 2012. He has written or edited numerous books about South Carolina and the American South, including South Carolina: A History, the first new history of the state in more than 60 years. With more than 37,000 copies in print and an audio edition, it has been a publishing phenomenon. Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution is in its fourth printing. He is also the editor of the South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Ways to Connect

"A" is for the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1990, the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is part of the federal system of refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge represents the federal role in the larger ACE Basin Project with units on the Combahee and Edisto Rivers. The headquarters is located at the Grove, an early nineteenth-century plantation house. With a total of nearly 12,000 acres, the refuge is managed for wildlife with careful attention given to habitat preservation.

"Y" is for Yeamans, Sir John [1611-1674]. Governor. Yeamans was born in Bristol, England and was a Royalist officer during the English Civil War. In 1659, he and other Royalists fled to Barbados where he became a large landowner, judge and member of the council. After his business partner died under mysterious circumstances, he lost no time in marrying the wealthy widow. In 1665 Yeamans briefly led then abandoned the settlers of the unsuccessful colony at Cape Fear. The Lords Proprietors named him the third Landgrave of Carolina.

"W" is for Walhalla

Jan 4, 2017

"W" is for Walhalla, a town in Oconee County [population 3,801].  Founded in 1850, Walhalla drew its name from the Norse mythology and means “Garden of the Gods.” The earliest settlers were German immigrants, members of the German Colonization Society, who purchased thousands of acres in Pickens District and established the little town. Located on a ridge at the foot of Stumphouse Mountain, St. John’s Lutheran Church was one of the first buildings in the attractive village of four hundred. During the Civil War the town became a haven for lowcountry refugees.

Sandra E. Johnson
Courtesy of the author

Sandra E. Johnson talks with Walter Edgar about her latest novel, Flowers for the Living. The novel tells the story of how a suicidal African-American teenager's forcing a young white cop to kill him devastates the teenager’s mother as well the rookie cop. It also sparks a massive race riot and puts the mother and rookie in the cross hairs of a deranged gunman.

"V" is for Verner, Elizabeth O'Neill [1883-1979]. Artist. A native of Charleston, Verner attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Returning home, she was active in numerous art organizations such as the Charleston Etcher' Club and the Southern States Art League. She emerged as a leading figure of the Charleston Renaissance alongside her mentor, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith. Early in her career she focused on etchings of Charleston street scenes that depicted the city's architectural heritage and its African-American residents.

"U" is for the Union Daily Times, a daily evening newspaper with a circulation of 6,355, published in the city of Union. The paper claimed to be the county's oldest enterprise as the successor to the weekly Unionville Journal that began publishing in 1850. The Journal later became the Times, but its editorial philosophy did not: it was a radical states' rights publication with the masthead notice: “The Constitution as our fathers gave it, or separate independence.” The newspaper survived the Civil War and several name changes.

"F" is for Fraiser, Joseph William

"E" is for the Enterprise Railroad

"D" is for the Dock Street Theatre

"C" is for Chalmers, Lionel

We Are Charleston

Dec 26, 2016
Bernard Powers, Marjory Wentworth, and Herb Fraizer, authors of We Are Charleston.
Jack Alterman

(Originally broadcast 08/19/16) - This week’s guests on Walter Edgar's Journal are the authors of the book We Are Charleston (2016 Thomas Nelson), a multi-layered exploration of the tragic events experienced by South Carolina’s famed Mother Emanuel in June of 2015.

"B" is for Bennett, Thomas, Jr.

"A" is for Asian Religions

"A" is for the A. M. E. Church

"T" is for Truck Farming

"S" is for Sayre, Christopher Gadsden

Garden...and Gun?

Dec 19, 2016
Garden and Gun logo
Garden and Gun magazine

(Originally broadcast 09/03/16) - Yes, Garden & Gun--a magazine that covers “the best of the South,” including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas. With a national audience of more than one million passionate and engaged readers, the magazine has won numerous awards for its journalism, design, and overall excellence.

"R" Is For the Richardson Waltz

"Y" is for Yarborough, William Caleb [born 1940], Race car driver. A native of Sardis in Florence County, “Cale” Yarborough had an adventurous and daredevil nature that led to his early success on local dirt tracks. In 1957 he lied about his age and raced in his first Southern 500 at Darlington. He soon became a NASCAR legend with a driving career that lasted from 1957 to 1988. As of 2004 he was the only driver to win three successive Winston Cup championships and his 83 victories place him fifth on the all-time win list.

"A" is for Adams, Mattie Jean [1873-1974]. Educator. In 1896, Adams, a native of Utopia in Newberry County, entered the junior class at South Carolina College. Two years later, in 1898, she was awarded a B.A. degree—the first woman to graduate from what is now the University of South Carolina. Adams established herself as a leader in the field of education. For eighteen years she served as the head of the Department of English at Meridian College in Mississippi. From 1900 to 1903 she took a leave of absence to serve as organizer for the South Carolina Women's Christian Temperance Union.

"W" is for the Waccamaw River. Named for the Waccamaw Indians, the river begins at Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina, runs parallel to the coast through Horry and Georgetown counties--never straying more than fifteen miles from the ocean. In Horry County, it runs through the county seat of Conway. The river is navigable from Georgetown to Conway, but its upper reaches are shallow and swampy.

"E" is for Ebenezer Colony. Founded in 1734, Ebenezer is twenty-five miles up the Savannah River on the Georgia side. This unique settlement of Lutheran refugees from Salzburg, Austria, was included in the Lutheran Synod of South Carolina until 1860. Its early inhabitants caught the imagination of many on both sides of the Atlantic because of their courage under persecution, their industry, and their piety. The extensive diaries and correspondence of several Lutheran pastors associated with Ebenezer shed light on the nearby German settlements in South Carolina.

The Cantaloupe Thief

Dec 14, 2016

In the new novel, The Cantaloupe Thief (2016, Lion Fiction), protagonist Branigan Powers decides that too many people are staying silent about a ten-year-old murder case. Powers, an journalist, knows a good story when she sees one—and the ten-year-old cold case of wealthy Alberta Grambling Resnick's murder definitely makes the cut. Now Branigan must do some serious digging to get her story.

"V" is for the Venus flytrap. Often described as the most unusual plant on earth, the Venus flytrap is a terrestrial bug-eating plant native to a small section of South Carolina and North Carolina.  It produces highly modified leaves that act as active trapping mechanisms that snap shut when small insects crawl across the leaf. The leaves contain nectar glands that produce a sweet substance to attract insects. Small hairs on the leaf surface act as triggering mechanisms.

"U" is for Union County [514 square miles; population 29,881]. The General Assembly created the county in 1785 and its boundaries remained the same until 1897 when it lost its two northernmost townships in the creation of Cherokee County. The first Europeans arrived in the 1750s and, to save effort, the various religious denominations built a single place of worship and called it a “union” church—and that was the origin of the county's name.

"T" is for Table Rock

Dec 12, 2016

"T" is for Table Rock in Greenville County. Table Rock is a small mountain that rises 3,197 feet above sea level and has a relatively broad summit shaped like a table, a characteristic that is said to have inspired the name given to it long ago by the Cherokee. Like Caesars Head and Sassafras Mountain, Table Rock was formed nearly 430 million years ago when either a continental fragment or island moved as one tectonic plate slid under another. The force of this collision generated heat and produced magma that formed a huge batholith miles underground that hardened into granite.

"B" is for Bacot, Ada White [1832-1911]. Civil War nurse, diarist. Bacot was born and reared in Darlington County.  In January 1861 she volunteered to serve as a nurse for the Confederacy, and, overcoming bureaucratic obstacles, was in Virginia by December. Working in the Monticello Hospital --operated by the South Carolina Hospital Aid Association--she supervised the preparation of meals and the laundering of clothing and bed linens. Social convention limited her interactions with wounded soldiers to visiting them, helping them write letters, or reading Scripture to them.

"A" is for Adams, Edward Clarkson Leverett [1876-1946]. Physician, author. Born in Richland County, Adams served in World War I. He returned to Columbia in 1918 where he briefly practiced medicine. In the 1920s he retired to his plantation on the Bluff Road and devoted the remainder of his life to farming and writing. His first book, Congaree Sketches, was a stunning success. Adams was able to present the black dialect with great precision, and also, as a white author, unhesitatingly portrayed the hardships of racial prejudice in the 1920s and 1930s.

"Y" is for Yellow Fever. For more than 200 years yellow fever was one of the most dreaded diseases in South Carolina.  It was introduced into the colony as a result of the African slave trade and the first major epidemic struck in 1699. Charleston hosted numerous epidemics and the victims were mainly whites not native to the lowcountry—hence another name for the disease-- “strangers' fever.”

"W" is for Walker, George Edward [ca. 1827-1863]. Architect, engineer. Walker was among the first generation of professional architects in South Carolina. His early designs attracted the attention of Edward Brickell White, the city's leading architect who hired Walker as the supervising architect for the new federal customhouse. In August 1854, Walker became the architect of the new State House in Columbia. The appointment was a professional coup, but he was unable to get along with the commission overseeing the project and, after only eight months on the job, was fired.