Something’s Up With Edgefield – Edgefield, South Carolina

“Are you making all this fuss over me?”

Strom Thurmond

While traveling on business through South Carolina on State Route 19 from Aiken up through Edgefield I came upon a place that was totally unexpected. Each day I would drive through the town on State Route 25 which passes through the town square which reminds me of a cross between the town featured in the movie “Doc Hollywood” and the square in the Spielberg film “Back to the Future” where Marty has to somehow generate 1.2 Jigawatts of energy and channel it into the “Flux Capacitor” so he can get back home.

There were several monuments in the town square and a stately old Courthouse on the North West corner. I kept telling myself that I was going to stop and read what was inscribed on those monuments one day after work. I finally got my chance on the last day that I was there and I discovered a community unlike any other that I have ever visited. I discovered a town where exploration, industry, war, agriculture, slavery, bigotry and feudal honor had been swirling in a vortex seemingly since the founding of the town back in the late 1700’s.

Thinking it would be a short and simple stop on my way back to Aiken after a long week of work, I parked my vehicle at the town square, grabbed my camera and went to quickly read the inscriptions on the monuments. My first stop was the Egyptian type obelisk located in the center of the square. Apparently it was dedicated to the incredible sacrifice the men of the community made during the Civil War.

Another granite marker told of 10 South Carolina Governors that the Edgefield area produced. It struck me as very odd that a tiny town like this could have projected such an influence on the rest of the State by sending so many of its men to the Governor’s mansion. The lawns of this beautiful little town square were so green, trim and neat it seemed as if the greens keeper from Augusta was attending to the details himself.

I walked from the granite “Governor’s” marker over to a bronze statue of a man facing the Courthouse. This statue was of the most famous and influential Governor and State Senator ever to come out of South Carolina – Strom Thurmond. I was now very interested as this little park held some serious significance.

The next stop was the courthouse. Atop the triumphant marble steps of this imposing old structure with white doric columns you have a fine view of the entire town square. I stopped a moment to observe, photograph and appreciate a scene of the south that to me was so foreign, being a westerner and all.

I descended the steps and noticed that there were some historical plaques on the side of the building. One in particular caught my eye and it was an ornate plaque placed in 1919 dedicated to the memory of the men from Edgefield who gave their lives in the First World War. It was very odd to see the names broken down into two categories – white men and colored men. It was a stark reminder of the tangled web of the politics and bigotry of slavery and continued animosity after the great war between the States that is still apparent just beneath the surface in so many parts of the south.

I walked through the portico under the courthouse steps and read a plaque about how a shooting occurred on that very spot taking the life of a man named Bird due to a dispute between locals. Apparently, a man’s name and honor was a huge thing back in the day in Edgefield and if you impugned a man’s honor or reputation, the Code Duello, a set of rules for a duel, would be initiated and you would shoot it out in the street.

The next plaque was quite disturbing as it told the tale of one “Becky Cotton- The Devil in Petticoats” 1765-1807, a beautiful seductress who murdered her husband in a brutal fashion by burying an axe in his head while he slept. According to legend, the all male jury in her trial was so taken with her charm and beauty that they acquitted her even though they had no doubt she committed the crime. Some say she went on to marry twice more and that she killed both of those husbands as well and threw their bodies in Slade Lake.

She was finally killed by her own brother after she was once again acquitted by the jury. The plaque on the courthouse states that the “Devil in Petticoats” was killed by her brother, who was disgusted by her behavior – he crushed her skull with a rock on the courthouse steps and then made his escape on a horse and rode west.

Very creepy yet interesting tale. Later in the day I explored Slade Lake and followed the “10 Governors Trail” which is a paved path from Slade Lake to Main Street that follows the old rail road grade and crosses Highway 25 on an old train trestle. This is a beautiful trail that has a granite marker every tenth of a mile – on these markers you will find information about all 10 Governors who came from the Edgefield area.

As I walked by Slade Lake in the waning golden light of late afternoon I thought of Becky Cotton. I looked down into the murky water and wondered if Becky actually did throw her husband’s corpses in there and if there are such things as ghosts, if they – and Becky still haunted the place.

Continuing on from the Courthouse I walked past the old black smiths shop where locals tell me for over 100 years, the town blacksmith has been on duty. Behind this shop is St. Mary’s Catholic Church and it is a wonderful old grey granite structure. I took a walk through it’s cemetery and noted several graves of confederate soldiers.

I walked back to the town square and noticed a cat inside a store window – lazily sleeping on a rocking chair. There were a bunch of cats just lounging around various places in the town. I looked at another historic plaque on a building just down the walk from the corner store.

This plaque told of the “Booth – Toney” shootout of 1878 where on that very spot, there was a gunfight between these two families that had a blood feud running back to 1869 when Benjamin Booth killed Luther Toney. There were more than 40 shots fired and when the smoke cleared – 3 men lay dead around the Edgefield town square – one in front of the public library.

By this time I was thinking to myself “What is up with Edgefield???” so much violence and fighting in such a small town. I stopped next at the old Tompkins library which houses the Edgefield Welcome Center and Genealogical Society. By this time I was fascinated with the history of the place so I bought several books on the history of Edgefield and one on the history of Company K – 14th South Carolina Volunteers.

I talked with the gentleman there for a bit and then made my way down a back alley to the old Edgefield Pottery building where I heard and exhaustive history of pottery making out of Red South Carolina Clay by the gentleman there who obviously loves his work. Apparently, Edgefield is famous for it’s clay and the pottery that is made from it.

I was hungry by this time so I went over to “Park Row Market No. 1” on the corner of Main street and the Courthouse Square. I ordered up a turkey and pepper jack panini with chipotle sauce and it was outstanding. This building is cool in itself as it housed a general store in Edgefield since 1852 and much of the interior of the place is just as it was back in the day.

It was a warm quiet evening and there was a gentleman playing guitar there and singing. When he dived into Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing” pulling off a great acoustic rendition, I knew I was going to stay awhile so I got a brew and elbowed up to a bench on the boardwalk in front of the store and commenced to munching my sandwich and observing the courthouse square as the sun went down.

So much interesting history took place in this tiny well manicured town square. It is impossible to capture it all in this short article and I’m sure if there are any mis-representations, I will hear about it from the Historical Society of Edgefield. Hopefully, the Code Duello will not be initiated as I will gladly correct any mistakes!

As I drove away from Edgefield passing by the peach orchards and pines with Stone Temple Pilots jamming on the radio it was as if I was in Marty’s De Lorean and I was heading “Back to the Future”. If you ever want to get a glimpse of the old south, Edgefield is a most amazing little slice in the up country of South Carolina. It is well worth a visit.

Pennsylvania Public Records – 2 Main Search Options

Pennsylvania public records is the archive that you should access if you want to get your own personal files like birth certificate, marriage certificate, and divorce certificate among many others; it also contain other pertinent documents like death certificates, court cases, criminal files, felony reports, and much more. Because of the importance of these documents, numerous individuals from all walks of life are searching for methods of access to this database due to various reasons.

Some people want to access this archive because they need to get copies of one of the documents as attachment to their loan and insurance applications, employment requirements, insurance claims, claims for health benefits, updating of social security files, and so on. Other individuals are also searching through Pennsylvania public records in order to perform background check on a person; or verify the credentials of loan and job applicants.

Whatever reasons you have in mind for wanting to access this database, you have two main options of search. One method necessitates you to make personal appearance at the respective local government agency in charge of maintaining the archive; while the other method offers the convenience of getting your desired data online without exerting much efforts from your end. Each of these methods has its own unique advantages; as well as disadvantages.

The first option is time consuming, costly in terms of transportation expenses, and requires a lot of efforts from you; however, this is the best way of getting the certified copies of these personal certificates which may cost you around $10 per copy. The second method offers the convenience of instant online access within just minutes of doing your search at any time you want, and at the comfort of your home without leaving your house; however, this is only good if you do not need to procure the certified papers.

For the option of getting the certified papers, you can either visit or mail your requests to the following:

For Birth Certificates and Death Records:
Division of Vital Records 101 South Mercer Street, Room 401 PO Box 1528 New Castle, PA 16101.

For Marriage Records & Divorce Records
Just visit the County courthouse where it was filed; some of them are located in the following Counties:

Adams
111-17 Baltimore St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-2313

Allegheny
414 Grant St., 1st Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2403

Beaver
810 3rd St.
Beaver, PA 15009

Delaware
201 W. Front St.
Media, PA 19063-2708

Franklin
157 Lincoln Way E
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Westmoreland
301 Courthouse Square
Greensburg, PA 15601

Nevertheless, just check your local directory for the details of the address if they are not one among the aforementioned locations. The second method offers more convenience because all you have to do is input the name of the person and the place; the results will give you excellent details of the individual, including the aforesaid documents. Your choice on which option is best lies on the purpose of your search for Pennsylvania public records.

The Chicago Beer Riot

In the mid 1800s, America had many worries, not only were the southern states threatening secession but there were very severe strains between more recently arrived German and Irish immigrants an those whose parents and grandparents immigrated from Europe earlier. Those who most feared that the country was being taken over by so many immigrants gravitated towards to a group that called itself the “American Party”. In time they became known by the name “Know-nothings” because of the semi secret organization of the party. If a member was asked about their activities by an outsider they were supposed to reply with the phrase “I know nothing”.

By 1855 Chicago had become a hotbed of tension between the immigrant groups and the party. That year Levi Boone was elected Mayor running on an anti-immigrant platform. Mayor Boone was a moralist, if not technically a “know-nothing” and he was outraged by the pleasure that the Irish and Germans found in drinking beer and chose that drink to bring pressure on the immigrant communities. After Boone was elected, he first barred immigrants from any city job. Next, he increased the cost of a city issued liquor license by 2,400%, from $50 annually to $300 quarterly. Then he ordered that an old law be brought back, prohibiting sale of alcohol and beer on Sundays.

On the first Sunday that the newly reenacted law was in effect, the immigrants on Chicago’s north side went about their business as usual, gathering in their neighborhood taverns for the traditional Sunday afternoon beer. Suddenly, and without any warning, the Chicago police showed up, ordered all the taverns to be shut down and arrested more than two hundred people for drinking on Sunday. The magistrate on duty at the courthouse released those who had been arrested and set a hearing date for April 21, 1855.

When that day arrived, an unruly crowd of some 300 barkeepers marched towards Courthouse Square, shouting threats against the judge and being led by a traditional Yankee fife and drum. Chicago police stopped the crowd and moved them back to the north side and a clash was averted. But not for long! About three that afternoon the crowd returned. And again the police were prepared for their arrival. Their tactic this time was to allow about half the crowd to cross the Chicago River and then open the swing bridges which effectively cut the crowd in half as well as trapping some on the bridges themselves. This tactic, while effective, infuriated the protesters and very soon both sides were shooting at each other.

Immediately rumors began that some of the protesters had been killed but there is no historical evidence for this claim. The fact that the Mayor had ordered the cannon in the courthouse square be loaded in anticipation probably helped fuel the rumors. As night came on, tempers cooled off and the demonstration broke up, their point made. The next year, Levi Boone lost his bid for re-election and the prohibition against selling beer on Sundays was repealed.

And so ended the great “Lager Beer Riot”; the only time in U.S. history that drinkers have rioted in support of their favorite beverage.