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 500 members in 40 states. In April 2008, OEDGS became the headquarters for the South Carolina Genealogical Society (SCGS).
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, May 20th, at 3:00 p. m., in the Lynch Building Annex of the Tompkins Library, 104 Courthouse Square, Edgefield. The guest speaker will be Professor Emerita Patricia G. “Pat” McNeely, who taught writing and reporting in the USC College of Journalism for 33 years. Before joining the faculty, McNeely was a reporter and editor for The Greenville News, The State and The Columbia Record.
McNeely is the author of a number of books, including Sherman’s Flame and Blame Campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas … and the burning of Columbia; Eyewitnesses to General Sherman’s Atrocities in the Civil War; Lincoln, Sherman, Davis and the Lost Confederate Gold; Knights of the Quill: Confederate Correspondents and their Civil War Reporting; Fighting Words: A Media History of South Carolina; and Handwritten Recipes and Memories from America’s First Families.
She will be speaking on her newest book, Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun and the Petticoat Affair. The premise of the book is as follows: Beautiful and vivacious Margaret "Peggy" O'Neil Timberlake had been widowed only four months in 1829 when she married newly elected President Andrew Jackson’s best friend and Secretary of War John Eaton. Horrified by rumors about her dubious reputation, the ladies of Washington, including the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, refused to socialize with Peggy Eaton.
Enraged by their rejection, the President called a Cab- inet meeting to official examine Peggy’s character and virtue and to order them to include her in their social lives. When they refused, Jackson stunned the nation in 1831 by dissolving his official Cabinet and killing Calhoun’s almost certain chance to be the next presi- dent. Newspapers and magazines dubbed the crisis the Petticoat Affair.
Widowed again in 1856, 59-year-old Peggy Eaton married a 19-year-old Italian dancing instructor and music teacher who spent all her money before he ran off with her 17-year-old granddaughter. The woman who destroyed Jackson’s Cabinet and derailed Calhoun’s political ambitions died penniless at age 79 in a home for destitute women.
Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun and the Petticoat Affair will be available for purchase at the May 20th meeting. Refreshments will be served.
Old Edgefield District Confederate Soldiers Wanted
A biographical book project is underway featuring Old Edgefield District Confederate soldiers. Thisincludes men from what are now Edgefield, McCormick, Aiken, Greenwood, and Saluda Counties.
If you have Confederate ancestors from Old Edgefield District and are interested in participating in this project that is dedicated to honoring these heroes of the South, please send in photographs (in uniform or civilian clothes), stories, letters, diaries, obituaries, service and/or pension records, family histories, etc. concerning these men. You will be given full credit for whatever material you contribute.
This is a worthwhile endeavor, and it is hoped that more of you will become involved. For more information, please call Tonya at 803-637-4010 or e-mail her at OEDGS85@gmail.com.
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.