The one person that deserves the most credit for this book, Margaret Lawrence, is amazing. She has researched every library and paper within a one-hundred-mile radius of Bamberg. She has been compiling this information for forty years. (Every time I tell this story she says I add ten years.) Margaret is my reason for being involved. She is my neighbor and over the years, as she persuaded me to get involved in the historical society, I found she had all of this wonderful information about Bamberg County. I said, “Margaret, we need to publish this research.” That is when we, as an historical society, decided to publish her work. We have been working on it ever since for about five-plus years.
Profound thanks go to the Bamberg County Council—Chairman William H. Nimmons, Administrator Matthew Delk, Dorothy Tatum, the Reverend Isaiah Odom, Robert A. Smith, Johnny Williamson, Roger C. Moses, Jr., and Jasper B. Varn, Jr., for having the vision and confidence to participate in the funding of this historic research and compilation.
Dr. Marion Dwight, Dr. Michael Watson, Holland Atlantic Hitch, Delavan, Inc., and Joe McMillan are thanked for their generous monetary contributions.
Without Betty Jane Miller’s expertise this project would not have happened. She has read every word, every sentence, and paragraph numerous times, correcting grammar and spelling, shortening Margaret’s run-on sentences. She and Margaret have had a few discussions about content—Betty Jane would take out and I would take Margaret’s side and put it back in. Betty Jane has been our Rock of Gibraltar. Not once has she turned us down, when we called her and said, “Betty Jane, we need to proof this history.” She has helped us in making major decisions about layout, dedications, etc. We have spent days and nights together making decisions and “proofing.”
Margaret’s dear husband and our friend, Norman Lawrence, whom we lost before this book was published, stuck with us in restoring the Hooton-Black House, recording cemeteries, and this history. Norman was Margaret’s “ears” and chauffeur to Columbia to research at the Caroliniana, and the State Archives (as well as numerous other places). Margaret always worried about Norman waiting on her for hours while she was researching. On this one occasion she asked him to leave her there for a couple of days and come back and get her. His reply to her was, “Never, you wouldn’t stop to eat or sleep if I left you here. I’ll come back to find you dried up and in a corner.” Norman’s realistic and practical advice and support was always welcomed and invaluable. He is deeply missed.
These dedicated members of The Historic Society of Bamberg County, Inc., Brenda Bessinger (treasurer), Lu Tyler (secretary), Marilyn Herndon, Gail Bonds, Marilyn Hightower, Nina Martin, Carol Varn, Mel Rizer, and Carrie Sojourner Simmons, were always “there” and made many contributions in time, money, and ideas.
Leigh Walker Joyner and Portia Stokes typed and transcribed our story onto disk. Linda Ramsey Deibel edited. Ernestine Steedley, an English teacher, critiqued and encouraged us by saying, “ This history must be published.” The Reverend Robert Winburn granted us permission to use the writings of his late mother, Lucretia Winburn. Daisy Smoak, a contemporary of the compiler, contributed much with her acute memory. Carl and Betty Kilgus—through the Advertizer-Herald-contributed and recorded the last twenty-five years and gave us valuable research material. To all of these people and the USC Press and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History we give our thanks.
We have had so many to contribute history. Many of these have been remembered in the book. There have been numerous telephone interviews and visits. This has been a community effort. We have all of you in the county to thank for your contributions, support, encouragement, and confidence.
This book has been put together with a lot of sacrifice, but with a great deal of fun and love. We have agonized, “Is this history something Bamberg Countians will enjoy and appreciate, or will they hate it and criticize our efforts?” We know there is much more to know about Bamberg County, but this is our work and our contribution and we hope you will find it in your hearts to be compassionate and forgiving.
The Historic Society of Bamberg County, Inc., hopes you will learn from this history. We hope that you will know more about Bamberg County than you have ever known. As you read this book, we want to give you a small peek into the past. Maybe you will find one or two of your ancestors and where they lived. Most of all we hope that you will realize just how historically significant Bamberg County is to South Carolina and to the United States of America. Bamberg County and Bamberg Countians have made significant contributions—contributions that you as citizens can be proud of.