Jasper County, South Carolina, Welcome!
MOVING FINGER OF JASPER
Copyright ©2001, GRACE Fox PERRY, her heirs and assigns, all rights reserved. Used with permission by SCGenWeb, Jasper County web site.
THE EDUCATION STORY
Jasper County's modern educational facilities are a far cry from the one-teacher frame structures of the early 1900s.
Once, an academy was in existence at Gillisonville, but by the turn of the century that had disappeared into memory. Many older Jasper citizens indulge in pleasant reminiscences of this place of learning, and mention a beloved teacher of the 1890s, Miss Hettie Solomons.
When the county was formed in 1912, the only school having more than one teacher was Ridgeland school, which boasted four teachers for ten grades. A few years later, the first brick school building was erected in Ridgeland. Scattered throughout the county at that time were some 30 one-teacher schools.
Elected as Jasper Countys first superintendent of education was Richard M. Jefferies, who was followed by J. B. Benton, S. B. Owens and R. R. Tison. In following the expansion of local education through the years, it seems to the writer that citizens of Jasper have two exceptional causes for pride. First, throughout contemporary years, the populace elected school officials who were genuinely interested in educational progress. Second, the countys teachers never failed to receive paychecks on time, even during the worst of the depression period in the thirties, an achievement not matched by many counties in the state.
School consolidation first began in 1920, with the merging of Grahamville and Bees Creek schools into the Ridgeland system. That year saw the beginning of bus transportation for children. Further consolidation took place after 1924, while Mrs. Mary Gordon Ellis filled the office of county superintendent, and Mrs. Margie W. Wise was principal at Grays. The schools at Grays and at Tillman then acquired brick structures suitable to their expanded needs. The Ridgeland High School had the misfortune to lose its first brick edifice by fire.
Following Mrs. Ellis, A. B. Hair assumed the duties of the office. In 1927, the Great Swamp school was merged with Ridgeland, followed by Okatie in 1931, and Gillisonyule in 1932.
Y. C. Weathersbee, who was elected superintendent of education in 1928, began consolidation of the colored schools. Developed under his leadership were the larger colored schools of Robertville, Good Hope, Gillisonville and Weathersbee Consolidated, near Arm Oak. Additions and improvements in the white schools also were made. During his tenure of office and while S. B. Owens was chairman of local trustees, a modern combined auditorium and field house was constructed at Ridgeland.
At this time, the Hardeeville school was incorporated" into a joint Jasper-Beaufort district. This move resulted in a new brick structure for Hardeevilles pupils. Another innovation during Mr. Weathersbees term was the furnishing by the county of free textbooks to children. Jasper was ahead of every other county in the state in this move, and has continued the practice.
Henry C. Walker became superintendent in i 6 and served eight years. During his administration, and with assistance of federal funds, many additional building projects and needed improvements took place. Added to the Ridgeland High School was a well-equipped vocational building; to the Hardeeville school a gymnasium, lunch room and superintendent's quarters; to the Grays school a combination gymnasium and auditorium; at the Tillman school, sanitary improvements. Mr. Walker also continued the consolidation of colored schools.
While Mr. Walker was absent for naval service during the war, his wife, Mrs. Bess Suber Walker, continued the education work in his stead.
Edward P. Huguenin, Jr., who took office in 1946, saw school enrollment increase steadily. Following the annexation of the township of Hardeeville, the enrollment took a considerable jump. A brick elementary school for colored children was completed in Hardeeville in 1952. This was the first school building constructed in the state under the then-new program of the State Educational Finance Commission.
The increase in enrollment mounted during the term of Russell E. Grayson. In 1955 there was achieved complete consolidation of the various high schools for colored students. A large, modern building for them was constructed near Grahamville at a cost of almost a half million dollars. It was ready for their occupancy early in the administration of H. A. Wall. Also, an up-to-date elementary building was finished at the site in 1957. Jasper High School for colored students is now one of the finest in the Lowcountry.
Edward P. Huguenin, Jr., has served in the education office for the past three years. The county now operates 16 buses for the white schools and 34 for the colored. In the four white schools (four elementary and three high) there is a total enrollment of 1220 students; in the four elementary colored schools and the one high school the enrollment is 2640. There are 66 white teachers employed, and 90 colored. The average cost per white pupil a year is $253, per colored pupil, $133.
In 1961, upon a new site at the edge of town, a handsome elementary building of brick construction saw cornpletion at Ridgeland. The new structure contains appointments and educational equipment of the finest quality. It has administrative offices, a spacious library and work shop, lounges, school music room, band room, health room, book-storage room, sixteen classrooms, a large cafeteria, and a kitchen equipped with the latest appliances and adequate food-storage space.
G. R. Alford is superintendent of the Ridgeland area schools; Robert H. Turpin is high school principal, and Miss Leah Jones is principal of the elementary school.
THE AGRICULTURE STORY
Once, this section depended altogether upon the depleting crops of cotton and rice for its prosperity, but those days are gone forever. Land-study, soil analysis, and scientific principles applied in a practical way have revolutionized Jasper Countys agriculture.
The greatest emphasis today is placed upon the production of truck and food crops. E. G. Tate, county agent, reports that farmers planted as crops last year:
String beans, 400 acres ; cucumbers, 1000 acres ; watermelons, 1200 acres; tomatoes, 100 acres; and squash, 100 acres. There has also been a tremendous increase in soybean acreage.
The Jasper County Farmers Produce Market, in operation for four years, has proved a definite means of augmenting the countys economy. Records reveal that the volume of business carried on through the market
facility has shown a gradual growth each year, reaching a total of $400,000 in 1961. This figure represents cash sales by farmers. The amount paid out to workers in connection with packing and grading the produce has been approximately $7000 annually.
The Farmers Market is being enlarged and expanded in scope. Its operation is directed by a local marketing commission, of which J. I. Wells is chairman. Mr. Wells has proved his farming efficiency by winning a number of prizes for soybean and corn production in area and district contests.
Many farmers are finding beef cattle profitable, and are steadily building up their herds. Operating the four dairy herds of the county are Bedells Dairy, C. M. Kieffer, L. C. Rankin, and Gregorie Neck Plantation.
For a number of years, extension agents and soil conservationists have stressed permanent pasture development in the county as cattle raising has taken hold. Coastal Bermuda grass is well-suited to Jasper Countys lands, Mr. Tate says. It has come into extensive use since it was first introduced as a good crop for grazing and hay.
The reforestation and wildlife phases of the conservation program are important to the countys welfare, for a number of reasons. Not only are members of the hunting clubs and owners of the large plantations finding the program feasible, but the small farmers as well. The J asper Soil Conservation District owns a tree-planting machine, which is available to any farmer on a rental basis. More than a million pine seedlings have been planted in the county during the past eight years.
Also as a result of the program, many growers have built farm ponds. Covering 563 acres of the countys lands, forty-seven of these ponds are stocked with fish; fifty-four are used for livestock watering places, and eighteen have been sown with widgeon grass and rice as plantings for wild ducks.
Still a dream for the future is a county drainage project outlined some years ago. Through the Great Swamp and Savannah River watersheds, it was estimated that 200,000 acres of land could be rendered suitable for use by means of drainage. It was further estimated that for every one dollar invested in drainage, clearance and land-. improvement, there could be a probable three-dollar return.
In this type of drainage, Jeremiah Milbank of Turkey Hill Plantation pioneered impressively when he excavated canals throughout his flatwoods acreage, a project that was planned by conservation specialists.
As another beneficent interest of Mr. Milbank, the Jasper County Farmers Service came into being in 1942. The Milbank donation provided for construction of a building and facility for marketing at Ridgeland, directed in the beginning by Clemson College officials. It is now under the supervision of a local board of directors. The facility offers to growers these services not available elsewhere : fence-post treating, seed cleaning, potato curing and storage; truck-weighing scales, and machinery for bean and pea shelling.
The treasure-trove of Jasper County is still the "green gold" of its forests. Some 8o per cent of its area consists of woodlands. The county ranks ninth among South Carolina counties in pulpwood production, for mills in several localities draw their supply from this area.
Most persons find that the difficulty in Jasper County is not devising a way to make a living, but resisting a too leisurely tempo of living. Fresh water streams yield an abundance of white perch, bass, redbreast, chub, catfish and pike. The tidal rivers entice fishing devotees with winter trout, whiting and shad; with drumfish and cobia in spring and channel bass in the fall. Brown deer upon a ridge ; through the grass a glimpse of speckled feathers ; the whir of shining bodies at sunup -- these sights and sounds give evidence of the fullness of the earth.
PROGRESS IN INDUSTRY
Industries are not new in Jasper County. Perhaps the Gillison shoe factory at Coosawhatchie can claim the age priority for this section. All the early machinery was run by water power. And the first cotton gins, established in a commercial way near Robertville, were horse-drawn affairs.
Because of the countys huge percentage of timber land, this area became dotted with large sawmills and turpentine distilleries in the years between 1860 and 1920. Since then, the countys industry has become more and more diversified.
MORRIS TUTEN PACKING COMPANY.
The meat industry in the county is represented by the wholesale firm of Morris Tuten Packing Company. Located now on the old Sisters Ferry road, the plant has been in operation since 1953.
The largest percentage of hogs and cattle used in the production is purchased from local farmers. The animals are slaughtered and handled by experts in that line. Custom curing of country hams and bacon is the principal process. The company also does smoking of meat on order; as well as some processing, wrapping, and freezing of wild game. Up-to-date methods of sausage-making and curing are followed.
Five white and colored workers are employed at the plant. Two trucks convey the meat to sales outlets throughout the Lowcountry.
RIDGELAND COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY.
In 1960, the Ridgeland Coca-Cola Bottling Company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary of operations in Jasper County. The Ridgeland plant was headed for many years by the late C. J. Getsinger, and is owned and operated now by his sons, Charles J. and George C. Getsinger.
A brick building on Jacob Smart boulevard houses the modern equipment which turns out scores of drinks per day. Inside, every device is arranged for maximum efficiency and sanitation. Water from the supply flows into a 350-gallon tank, from which it is pumped, treated, and filtered by machinery.
One unit of the machine takes care of washing and sterilizing the bottles. They disappear into their "bath" and then, six sparkling clean bottles to a row they reappear, the machine turning and depositing them gently, right side up. The conveyor line moves them across to the other side, ready for a fresh beverage filling by the other unit.
Twin tanks of carbonic acid gas have discharged the necessary amounts into the purified water. Following the mixing process, the carbonated liquid is siphoned into each bottle, as each has received its measured portion of sirup from the filling machine. The sirup is stored in a stainless steel drum from which it is transferred directly into the filling machine. The processes of filling and capping go on continuously, until to an observer there seem to have passed thousands and thousands of traveling bottles!
In addition to Coca-Cola, other soft drinks are bottled and sold by the company. Eight employees and two trucks are kept busy in this industry, which has grown right along with Jasper County.
DEERFIELD SAND AND MINING COMPANY.
On the Southern railroad, a few miles from Tillman, is the Deerfield Sand and Mining Company plant. The sand company was established fifteen years ago, with J. S. Newlin as president. Henry C. Chambers is now president and treasurer; W. Perry Gill is vice-president and secretary. The companys office is in Ridgeland.
The lake excavation at the site covers 15 acres, the pit having the deepest formation of sand known in this section. In its operations the company uses two barges of all steel construction. On the barges are 175-horsepower motors, which enable a supply of more than a thousand tons of sand per day to be pumped.
Six-inch pipes convey the watery load to the machinery unit. There is a washer, a classifier, de-watering equipment; and overhead are steel storage bins. Loading cars for the output are kept on the railroad siding nearby.
Six or seven persons are employed at the plant, depending on the seasons. The company can produce any size of fine aggregate that may be needed in the construction business.
WHITENER-DWYER LUMBER COMPANY.
The lumber company of Whitener-Dwyer was started near Ridgeland in 1958 The equipment consists of a sawmill having a capacity of 100,000 feet of lumber per day; a planing mill, chipper, a log yard; and a lumber yard thirty acres in extent. Two portable sawmills and a debarker are in auxiliary use.
A. O. Dwyer is general manager of the company. Employed are 36 men, both white and colored, in the mill operations, and 60 workers in the woods department. Walter Dorrity is oflice manager, and Otis Jones is the plant superintendent.
The products are pine lumber and cypress, which are shipped to points all over the country. The company purchases 9,000,000 to 12,000,000 feet of timber per year. Sales of the finished products average out to a similar amount.
JASPER PRINTING COMPANY.
The printing industry is represented in the county by Jasper Printing Company. Established in 1 956, the firm publishes the weekly newspaper, Jasper County News. C. W. Frame is publisher, and D. N. Rivers is editor.
W. M. REDDISH AND SONS.
Upon the old Argent Lumber Company site at Hardeeyule, this firm began the manufacture of wood products in 1960. In the sawmill, planing mill and logging departments, some 25 persons are employed.
SEA ISLAND FREEZER CORPORATION.
This industry is recently-established. Operations of the plant, located near Coosawhatchie, will consist of processing, freezing, and shipping sea foods and poultry. J. E. McTeer, of Beaufort, is president of the firm. A number of Jasper County persons will be employed.
HOLIDAY WEAR, INC.
Of superlative interest indeed is Ridgelands dress manufacturing plant. Its phenomenal growth in the past nine years has carried Holiday Wear, Inc., straight to the top. It is now the largest maternity-dress plant in the United States.
In the spring of 1946, with the backing of the Ridgeland Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Jasper County Development Company, Inc., was organized, with 150 local stockholders. An $80,000 factory building was erected by the company, for lease.
The first "needle" corporation to lease the building manufactured shirts. A later company changed the output to pajamas; then to childrens clothes; and then to dresses for expectant mothers.
In 1953, the present manufacturing firm purchased "Holiday Wear." President of the corporation is David Serby. Bernard Katzman of New York is treasurer. Vicepresident and general manager of the local plant is Herman Serby; chairman of the board of directors is David Serby. The new owners of Holiday Wear, Inc., leased the building for their operations over a period of eight years. Gradually they added to their equipment, increased the production, and established a new plant at Estill. Later, a sub-contracting plant was placed at Statesboro, Georgia.
An extension to the local building was proving insufficient for the growing plant. In August, 1961 the officials of Holiday Wear exercised their option to buy. They purchased the building, to which they had made many improvements during their tenure, from the stockholders of Jasper Development Company. Following this, they were ready for further expansion.
The building has been enlarged to a dimension double that of the original structure. It now contains 44,000 square feet of floor space. Air conditioning had been installed earlier by the firm.
Mr. Serby, the general manager, has impressive figures to show a visitor. His company found here, he said, the equipment and the capacity for employment of 40 or 50 persons; and a production of 2400 garments per week. Additional machinery was installed; new spreading machines, cutting tables and cutting knives. There are now 225 sewing machines with intricate attachments; between 275 and 300 employees, depending on the seasons, and a production of 24,000 dresses per week! Ninety per cent of the employees are persons living in Jasper County. The weekly payroll has grown from $ 1 000 per week to $12,000, a stupendous addition to the countys economy. George Razook is plant superintendent; James F. Taylor is production manager. Several clerical workers are employed in the front office.
There is a neat cafeteria for workers, which has been enlarged recently ; it is leased to an operator at no rental cost to him, so that meals can be provided as inexpensively as possible. There is ample office space for the various department heads; a first-aid room; a storage room for buttons and trimmings; and a machine-service room with a full-time repairman in charge.
"Picture Frocks" is the trade name by which the dresses are known. The entire production in the South, including that of Estill and Statesboro, is consolidated from Ridgeland for distribution. Offices and showrooms are maintained in New York for the convenience of buyers. There are two types of shipping: by direct retail sales to chains, as to Mangels, Virginia Dare, Lerners, W. T. Grant, J. C. Penney, and McCrorys; and by consignment to warehouses of the large mail-order companies, such as Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Spiegels, Aldens, and National Bellas Hess.
The efficiency of Holiday Wears operations must be seen to be believed. Men workers start the process. After the material has gone from storeroom to the spreading and cutting tables, workers assort and ticket the individual bundles of cloth. This is done so that each worker may know her production at the end of the day.
The preliminary operation of the women workers finishes collars, sleeves and cuffs; these go into bins in readiness for the assembly section. In the second operation, seemingly-endless skirts are sewed and pinked in one continuous process. Tucking or banding of dress-tops goes on in the next department.
The factory has its own machinery for producing seam binding, an item enormously important. And to anyone who has ever cut cloth "on the bias" this ingenious machine carries on the most fascinating of all the processes. Straight lengths of material are sewed flat together then slipped, pillow-case fashion, onto a rotating projection, which keeps the cloth rolling continuously so that it is sheared on the bias by a big cutting blade. And the binding is set by inch-measurement to whatever width is desired.
In the assembly section, as the name indicates, the various parts of the garments are matched up and stitched together. Then, the workers machines of the post-assembly section are whirring through blind-stitch hemming and cleverly sewing on buttons.
The dresses, whether inexpensive Cottons or delicate silks, are inspected for loose threads or minute defects before they go to the pressing room. They receive a final inspection, in storage. Then, by an efficient continue-rail system, the dresses, hanging in hundreds of rows, are processed through to the shipping department.
Garments are shipped in two ways appropriate to their destinations : packed in neat individual boxes for the retail stores; and in cellophaned groups upon hangers, for travel by special truck to the mail-order houses.
As with the beginning process of cutting, the final operation of shipping is handled entirely by men. The traffic manager is Harold Cooler.
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Copyright ©2001, GRACE Fox PERRY, her heirs and assigns, all rights reserved. Used with permission by SCGenWeb, Jasper County web site.