Doctor’s role in reviving SC rice industry highlighted

carolina gold rice

Dr. Richard Schulze Sr. had predatory rather than culinary goals in mind when he planted Carolina Gold rice in the mid-1980s.

The Savannah eye surgeon was looking to attract ducks to his Turnbridge Plantation in Hardeeville, SC, about 30 miles northeast of Hilton Head, for hunting, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The birds didn’t much cotton to the long-grain rice, but chefs and rice connoisseurs shortly began to take notice.

Today, Carolina Gold rice is essentially the basis for the U.S. rice industry, no mean feat considering that virtually no one had grown rice in the South Carolina Lowcountry in the previous 60 years before Schulze’s efforts.

Initially, Schulze started by planting regular rice on his plantation. He then decided to switch to Carolina Gold, known as the Cadillac of rice for its taste and quality. The lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia was known for its high-quality Carolina Gold rice prior to 1900, particularly before the War Between the States.

“Well, I figured if we’re going to do rice, why not get the original stuff,” he told the Morning News.

Schulze requested Carolina Gold from the USA Rice Council, and was redirected to a rice research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture in Texas.

He was able to secure 14 pounds of Carolina Gold seed, which he planted in 1986.

Schulze faced the additional obstacle of hulling the seed. Sending rice out of state for milling and then having it sent back was impractical.

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Last Union officer killed in Civil War shot by 14-year-old boy

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The purported last Union officer killed in the War Between the States was a product of Harvard, shot down by a 14-year-old member of the Confederate home guard more than a week after Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.

Edward Lewis Stevens, Harvard Class of 1863, had enlisted as a private in the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment on Sept. 12, 1862. The Brighton, Mass., native was 20 years old when he joined up.

He was later commissioned an officer in the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first official African-American units and the subject of the 1989 film Glory.

Stevens was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 54th in April 1864, nearly a year after the regiment had attempted to take Fort Wagner near Charleston, SC, where Col. Robert Gould Shaw and 280 other members of the unit were killed, wounded or listed as missing in action.

Stevens was promoted to 1st lieutenant in December 1864 and as the war would down, the 54th and other Federal troops found themselves back in South Carolina.

The 54th Massachusetts arrived in South Carolina on April 1, 1865, landing at Georgetown, between Charleston and Wilmington, NC, from Savannah, Ga.

The unit was one of six infantry regiments operating under Maj. Gen. Edward E. Potter, with the 54th contributing 700 officers and enlisted men to Potter’s 2,700-man force.

By April 18, 1865, Potter was in Camden, a medium-sized affluent community a little more than 100 miles northeast of Georgetown. That morning, Potter left Camden and headed south. They had traveled 10 miles on the Stateburg Road and encountered no opposition until they reached a fortified Confederate position at Boykin’s Mill.

Boykin’s Mill was little more than a grist mill, church and small collection of homes, but its defense were enhanced by the presence of a millpond, along with streams and a swamp.

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Manassas: Erecting monuments to the dead 150 years ago

Manassas monument a

Among the more curious aspects of the Manassas National Battlefield Park is the presence of one of the first monuments erected in recognition of men who died during the War Between the States.

Located just behind the Henry House is a 20-foot-tall obelisk, topped by a granite block and a 200-pound artillery shell. The block obelisk sits on three levels of granite which extend out and feature three smaller granite blocks at each corner, all topped by 200-pound artillery shells (see above).

On one face of the marker written in decidedly simplistic lettering are the words “In Memory of the Patriots who fell at Bull Run July 21, 1861”.

Designed by 2nd Lt. James McCallum of the 16th Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery, and built by men from the 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, the monument was dedicated on June 11, 1865, two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, a month after Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured in Georgia and two weeks before the last significant Southern force, under Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, laid down its arms.

On the same day, Federal forces erected a second monument nearby to Union soldiers who fell during the Battle of Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run), fought Aug. 28-30, 1862.

Several thousand Union soldiers were on hand for the unveiling of the monuments in June 1865, including Maj. Gen. Henry W. Benham, Maj. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman, Maj. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, Brig. Gen. John F. Farnsworth, Brig. Gen. William Gamble, Brig. Gen. John P. Slough and Brig. Gen. Orlando B. Willcox.

While the monuments were erected before the war was officially over, they weren’t the first to be raised on the Manassas battlefield.

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Georgetown County Courthouse an antebellum ornament

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As South Carolina’s third-oldest city, Georgetown bristles with history, from the famed Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church to the Old Market Building to Mansfield Plantation.

It’s fitting then that critical Georgetown County matters are still settled in a nearly 200-year-old courthouse that was designed by the state’s most famous architect.

The Georgetown County Courthouse, drawn up by South Carolina native Robert Mills, the man who also designed the Washington Monument, was built in 1823-1824 for approximately $12,000.

Designed in a Classical Revival style, the structure replaced a previous courthouse that had been damaged by two destructive hurricanes.

Until about four years ago, the structure had continued to serve as the judicial hub for the county, despite being outdated in a number of respects.

Mrs. Cotton Boll, a South Carolina attorney, recalled being involved in a case in the antiquated edifice approximately eight years ago in the middle of a sweltering summer day when the judge stopped the proceedings in order to remove his robe. Fortunately, he was appropriately clothed beneath his judicial garb.

For the past few years, the courthouse has been undergoing an extensive renovation, receiving new carpet and paint throughout, having its ceiling and ductwork replaced, being rewired, and having its heating and cooling system updated.

Robert Mills, famed 19th century architect.

Robert Mills, famed 19th century architect.

While the county’s courts have been relocated to a new judicial center, County Council will still meet in the venerable building, as will aspects of the county’s public services department.

Mills (1781-1855) left his mark not only across South Carolina, but all along the East Coast.

Besides designing the Washington Monument, he also assisted James Hoban with the construction of the White House.

Mills also drew up plans for the Department of Treasury building, the US Patent Office Building and the General Post Office in Washington, and courthouses in at least 18 South Carolina counties, several of which survive.

Other Mills’ structures can be found in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Bedford and Newburyport, Mass., and Richmond, Va., where he designed the White House of the Confederacy, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived during the War Between the States.

Amateur historian uncovers additonal 3,000 Civil War dead

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Historians in recent years have revised the number of dead connected to the American Civil War significantly upward, from 620,000 to as many as 850,000. That increase is based in part on the work of J. David Hacker of Binghamton University SUNY, who used demographic methods and sophisticated statistical software to study digitized US census records from 1850 to 1880.

Coming up with actual names to go with this increase is significantly more difficult.

However, one South Carolinian, through years of hard work, has given names to many Confederate soldiers whose deaths during the 1861-65 conflict were never officially documented.

Herbert “Bing” Chambers has uncovered the identities of approximately 3,000 South Carolina soldiers who lost their lives during the War Between the States but were never officially recorded.

Chambers’ efforts have increased the state’s losses during the war to nearly 22,000.

To put that in perspective, that figure is more than 17 percent higher than the 17,682 figure listed in the Official Records of the War of Rebellion and some 16 percent higher than the 18,666 number listed in Randolph W. Kirkland Jr.’s 1995 work, Broken Fortunes: South Carolina Soldiers, Sailors, and Citizens Who Died in the Service of Their Country and State in the War for Southern Independence, 1861-1865.

Chambers actually began his efforts shortly after Kirkland’s work was released when he learned that the latter, who created his book by combining several different existing lists of South Carolina Confederate dead, had failed to review the Compiled Service Records when creating Broken Fortunes.

The Compiled Service Records for Civil War soldiers were made by the US Record and Pension Office in the War Department, beginning in 1890 for Union soldiers and 1903 for Confederate soldiers.

Card abstracts for Southern soldiers were made from original muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, hospital registers, Union prison registers and rolls, parole rolls, and inspection reports. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth and date of death.

Over the ensuing 18 years, Chambers scoured hundreds of rolls of microfilm, traveled to countless libraries, archives and courthouses across South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina, and meandered through old cemeteries across all three states seeking out old headstones marking the resting place of otherwise unheralded soldiers.

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19th century farmhouse recalls fiery days of secession

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Nearly 200 years old, the Keitt-Whaley-Pearlstine House sparkles amid the drab brown landscape of late winter in central South Carolina.

The large white two-story clapboard structure features six columns, first- and second-story porches, gabled roofs and touches of Greek Revival style.

Built in rural Orangeburg County, in what later became Calhoun County, near the Old State Road that ran from Columbia to Charleston, the structure’s interior features multiple fireplaces, some with hand-carved mantels with multiple cornices, according to the SC Department of Archives and History.

But for all the architectural appeal of the plantation house, its history is just as interesting.

Constructed between 1820 and 1825 for Dr. and Mrs. George Keitt, the Keitt’s son, Laurence, was born in the house in 1824. He would go onto become one of the South Carolina’s most ardent secessionists.

After serving in the South Carolina General Assembly while still in his mid-20s, Keitt was elected to the US House in 1853. He would be re-elected twice more.

Stephen Berry, writing in Civil War Monitor, described Keitt as the “Harry Hotspur of the South.”

“Keitt … was a Fire-Eater par excellence. Legendary for staging ‘pyrotechnic’ displays on the floor of Congress, Keitt paced his desk, scattered papers before him ‘like people in a panic,’ and pounding ‘the innocent mahogany’ until pens, pencils, documents, and even ‘John Adam’s extracts shuddered under the blows.’”

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GAR outpost has thrived in heart of Dixie for 125+ years

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Beaufort County counted some of South Carolina’s most ardent secessionists among its residents as the War Between the States began. Its landscape was dotted with large cotton plantations featuring sizable slave populations until Union troops came ashore at Port Royal in November 1861 and took control, of the area, freeing thousands of enslaved blacks.

While Northern forces weren’t able to venture far inland from their beachhead in the southern part of the state until close to the end of the war, it served as a staging point for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and as a destination for escaped slaves looking for sanctuary.

Many of those former slaves would go on to serve in the Union Army, as members of US Colored Troop units.

Years after the war, a number of former USCT members formed one of the few Grand Army of the Republic posts in South Carolina, the David Hunter Post No. 9, organized in 1888.

In 1896, the post constructed the Grand Army Hall, on Beaufort’s Newcastle Street. Today, the structure, located in the Beaufort Historic District, is believed to be the only surviving building in South Carolina associated with the Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR.

The GAR was a fraternal organization made up of men who had served the Union cause. At its peak, it boasted nearly 500,000 members nationwide.

The Beaufort post was named for Hunter (1802-1886), who rose to the rank of major general and was a strong proponent of arming blacks to assist the Union effort.

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