By DIONNE GLEATON
T&D Staff Writer
A physician who discovered the first-known case of tularemia in the South in 1934. One of the first blacks to enter the U.S. Marine Corps. The first certified black architect in the United States.
These and dozens of other individuals are recognized in “African Americans of Orangeburg County,” a new book dedicated to the county’s rich black history and the accomplishments of many local African-Americans in the fields of medicine, military, education, business, religion and more.
Among them is the first black deputy sheriff hired in Orangeburg County, the founder of the South Carolina High School Bandmasters Association, one of the first black teachers to integrate a local high school, council members and pastors, many of whom were at the forefront of the civil rights movement.
A woman who was still picking cotton at 100 years of age are among other notables.
Lauritza Salley Hill’s 128-page book is the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. The book, which is a compilation of pictures and brief histories, was a three-year labor of love for the long-time Orangeburg resident.
“It occurred to me that there’s just so many unsung heroes out there,” Hill said. “What’s different about my book is that it doesn’t just have famous people or people who may be up the ladder. There are also unsung heroes in the small communities, those who have people who look up to them that have never gotten recognition.
“It’s a book that I think needs to be not just on the shelf, but on the table so that people can sit down and discuss it with their children and grandchildren.”
A native of the small Colleton County town of Springtown, Hill has been in Orangeburg since 1972. She is an office manager at South Carolina Legal Services in Orangeburg, where she has been employed for 32 years.
Hill said she became interested in Orangeburg’s people and history after doing research of her own family in Orangeburg County.
“Later on, an opportunity to develop a book was presented to me from co-worker who had some contacts from someone who used to work at Arcadia Publishing,” Hill said. “Most of the work was done through ... talking to different people and people leading me to other people.”
She also spent many days at the Orangeburg County Library, where she compiled information from old newspaper articles, as well as at the Orangeburg County Historical Society and university libraries.
“I did a lot of my research after work and on the weekends,” said Hill, who put in her proposal to the Mount Pleasant-based Arcadia Publishing, a leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States, in December 2011.
“I heard from them in January 2012, and once I got the contract, I really had to work fast then,” she said. “I was really surprised that it got approved that fast through the publishing company, but being a published author has been a dream of mine.”
Among the notables mentioned in the book are Orangeburg physician Monroe Crawford, who was recognized for discovering tularemia — an infection common in wild rodents and passed to humans through contact with infected animal tissues or by biting insects — in the South in 1934. Dr. Spencer C. Disher, the first black chief of staff at the Regional Medical Center in 1988, and Marion Harrison, the first black deputy sheriff hired in Orangeburg County, are also included in the book.
Featured, too, are Sybil Jenkins Jamison, a long-time teacher who served as the first black town council person in North for 14 years; Springfield native Hester Jones Walker, who picked cotton until she turned 100 and continued to care for herself until she died in 1978 at the age of 110; Dr. Mildred Rice, one of the first black teachers to participate in the integration of Orangeburg High School; and Milton Boyd, who operated a popular dinette on Russell Street for more than 30 years.
“Compiling the book was a wonderful experience,” Hill said. “I met so many people that I ordinarily would not have come in contact with.
“The chapters include those on religious life and education. I stumbled on pictures of the old schools online. I thought it would be interesting for people to see where their parents and grandparents went to school.”
The book also shares the history of figures who worked to create change in the segregated South, including the late businessman Jim Sulton, whose grandfather John J. Sulton, father McDuffie and uncle John J. Sulton Jr. were the three moving forces of J.J. Sulton & Sons lumber company in Orangeburg.
Attorney Luther J. Battiste III, one of the first two blacks elected to Columbia City Council since Reconstruction, is also featured in the book.
The Orangeburg native said the book provided a “refreshing” look back at the history of blacks in Orangeburg.
“So many photos in the book are photos that I saw from my time in history. It’s just refreshing to see all of that put in one publication,” Battiste said. “I grew up in Orangeburg during the civil rights movement. In Orangeburg, it was called ‘the Orangeburg Movement,’ which was included in the book. I participated in marches and picketing, and so that was a very special time in Orangeburg.
“I think that that perspective from growing up in Orangeburg and what I gained from it helped me when I decided to go into politics and got elected to (Columbia) City Council. Even though I represented Columbia, I always carried Orangeburg with me.”
Orangeburg resident Charles Payne is one of eight Montford Point Marines in the state. The 87-year-old, who is also included in the book, was among the first blacks who entered the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949 at Montford Point Camp, a segregated camp affiliated with Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“I think history is very important, because if you don’t know where you came from, it’s hard to know where you’re going,” he said. The book, Payne continued, would be a great resource for schools because, “it would be wonderful for our children to know their background.”
Hill, the mother of three children and six grandchildren, said she hopes her book will have a lasting impact on readers.
“A lot of elderly people told me that the book was something they thought was needed,” she said. “There were many interesting and wonderful stories told, and many others to be heard.
“I’m hoping that they will enjoy going through the book, and ... that the book will be a legacy to the descendants of those who are featured in the book and can be passed down from generation to generation as a reminder of the experiences of the past.”
“African Americans of Orangeburg County” is available at local retailers, via online bookstores, and through Arcadia Publishing at arcadiapublishing.com or 888-313-2665.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5534.