Welcome To The Official Web Site Of Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society
Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society (OEDGS) was founded in 1985 and chartered as a chapter member of the South Carolina Genealogical Society on January 6, 1985. For a number of years, OEDGS has been the largest genealogical society in South Carolina, with over 400 members in 40 states. The purpose of the OEDGS is to promote genealogical and historical research in Old Edgefield District. To this end, the Society maintains a large collection of newspapers (both hard copies and microfilm); many Old Edgefield County records, such as probate records (wills and deeds), censuses and mortality tables. There is an extensive collection of family histories as well, with new titles being acquired regularly. Many of these histories were donated by the authors or by family members.
OEDGS also has over 2,000 surname files available to researchers, which contain Bible records, newspaper clippings, letters, lineage charts, diary excerpts, and other information. The Society also has subject files, which include church histories, cemetery surveys, information on historic homes and communities, etc. The Society welcomes additional material from members and researchers to add to these collections.
On the shelf is a vast amount of information on other South Carolina counties as well as other states, especially the southern states. In addition, there are general books on period history, such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Reconstruction.
OEDGS is a non-profit organization supported by memberships, donations, and sale of publications. [The Internal Revenue Code, Section 501 (3) allows tax deductions for the value of materials donated to the Chapter.]
OEDGS records are housed in the Tompkins Memorial Library located at 104 Courthouse Square in Edgefield, South Carolina. The library is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a. m. to 1:30 p. m. (except holidays). For more information, call 803-637-4010.
THE TOMPKINS LIBRARY: DECADES OF SERVICE, OVER TWO CENTURIES OF TRANSITION
The early courthouse community of Edgefield held literary interests in high esteem and had an organized philanthropic group that provided a library in the late 18th century. Indication of this fact is documented by a generous monetary gift to the Library Society from Honorable Nicholas Eveleigh & Mary, his wife, recorded 19 March 1790 in Edgefield County, SC Deed Book 1, Pages 53-57.
Mill’s Statistics published in 1826 contains the following confirmation: “A taste for reading has been manifested by the ladies of the village [Edgefield] who with several gentlemen constitute a society, which is called ‘The Female Library Society.’ The meetings are held at each others houses according to an alphabetical list of names once a fortnight where conversations on literary subjects are carried on and the usual business of the society transacted.”
These library meetings continued in homes until the number of books had grown to a degree that one of the early law offices on Buncombe Street was procured to become the home of the library. In 1908, a state charter was obtained in the name of “The Free Library.”
The Edgefield Advertiser dated 10 March 1909 announced that Senator Benjamin Tillman had sent the library a large number of valuable books. At a later date, he presented another collection of about 500 books. On 18 October 1914, Edgefield native Daniel Augustus Tompkins died. Co-founder of the Charlotte Observer, leading Southern industrialist and distinguished philanthropist, Tompkins made a bequest to the Town of Edgefield of $10,000 and designated the money for library purposes.
About the year 1917, a civic minded club called the Civic League purchased the law building and land and paid in installments until the last payment was made in 1922, as recorded in the Advertiser. In 1927, John Rutledge Abney, a former Edgefield resident and prominent New York attorney, left his rare book collection to the Edgefield library with the stipulation that Edgefield provide a “worthy place to put them.”
The law building then in use was not adequate for the books that were already in the library and the books to be given by Mr. Abney could not be placed there. It was about this time The People’s Bank failed, and it was suggested that the Civic League buy this building. After conferring with the Tompkins heirs, it was agreed. On 16 April 1928, the Civic League was incorporated. The Civic League worked in cooperation with the Library Association, who sponsored the Edgefield Free Library and using the monies in the Tompkins bequest purchased the Peoples Bank building on the square in Edgefield. $1,750, the price of the People’s Bank was paid from the estate of D. A. Tompkins.
The bank was then remodeled. Mrs. (J. R.) Abney examined it personally and was satisfied that it was “worthy.” The Free Library continued to function in the Tompkins Library building until the Regional Library system was founded. In 1981, the public library moved out of the Tompkins Library building. Nancy Mims, librarian at the time, had already begun to collect genealogical materials on Old Edgefield District, as many visitors came here seeking information. She maintained the Tompkins Library as a genealogical and historical research library with focus on Old Edgefield District for many years.
In 1985, the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society was chartered and began to add to the collection with donations from members and friends. The collection now contains over 3,500 volumes of genealogical materials, multitudes of loose paper files, microfilm reels, maps and many other valuable research materials. Visitors in the thousands come from every state to seek their roots in Old Edgefield by using the collection that continues to expand.
The public is cordially invited to the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society (OEDGS) meeting on Sunday, March 10th, at 3:00 p. m., in the Lynch Building Annex of the Tompkins Library, 104 Courthouse Square, Edgefield. The guest speaker will be Dr. Michael Trinkley, the Director of the Chicora Foundation, who will give a presentation on his extensive evaluation of Willowbrook Cemetery (Edgefield Village Cemetery). He will also discuss a plan for the restoration and preservation of this historic cemetery.
Dr. Trinkley received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina in 1980 and has published numerous scholarly studies with Chicora, the University of Alabama Press, and others. He has over 30 years of preservation experience and has been the director of Chicora Foundation since 1983. Prior to his work with Chicora he was the senior archaeologist with the SC Department of Highways. Dr. Trinkley is a registered consultant with numerous state and international agencies and has served as an expert witness for cemetery and archaeology issues in both South Carolina Circuit Courts and US Federal Court. He has been accepted for membership in the Register of Professional Archaeologists and is also a member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
This should prove to be a very interesting meeting. Please make plans to attend. Refreshments will be served.
Edgefield County Archives Vault
For over six months, the Edgefield County Archives vault has been meticulously organized and inventoried. Carol Pardue, Summer Stiles, and Glenn Zimmerman generously volunteered their time, energy and efforts for this project, and we greatly appreciate their assistance. There are over 1,750 books and over 300 file boxes in the archives vault. The next step is to label each book and place the fragile ones into acid-free boxes. This reorganization will make these records more readily accessible and the inventory will be made available to the public soon.
Meet the Challenge
In the September/October 2018 issue of Quill, we reported that OEDGS is currently operating on a “shoestring” budget and if this trend continues, we will have to close our doors in five years. Since that time, our members have begun to meet this need in a magnanimous way.
One such act is the following: a very “Generous Benefactor,” made an incredible donation of $5,000.00. She requested that we publish her letter in which she stated: “I'll be d****d if I will let the OEDGS (Old Edgefield Genealogy Society) close their doors within the next five years because of lack of funds. I am sending a check for $5,000.00 and challenge any/all other OEDGS members/ any/all supporters who promote Edgefield to match that!!!!”
We cannot begin to express how much this donation and sentiment means to us. Our purpose is to offer our members all of the assistance that we can muster to help them with their genealogical needs. The fact that our “Generous Benefactor” and other members are answering the call to help us makes us feel that what we do is important and worthwhile. It is motivating in so many ways and offers a great feeling of encouragement.
If you haven’t paid your 2019 dues yet or if you would like to become a new member, please make sure to pay them and invite others to join the society. Also, if you have not made a monetary donation, please consider doing so. We are here to assist you with your genealogical research, and will continue to do so with your support.
To help make travel plans to Edgefield easier for researchers and to support local businesses, OEDGS decided to publish paid ads by certified genealogists, restaurants, lodging, and historic / tourist sites in Quill and on the web site. Please check out these advertisers below and give them your patronage during your next visit to Edgefield.