The town of Edgefield was founded in 1785 and emerged in the early 1800s as a thriving trade center for surrounding farms. Much of the town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
The town square itself has been called a shrine to the agelessness of political, religious, industrial, cultural, and social happenings in the community. The typical “old town” look of the square served as the backdrop for the 1996 remake of the movie “That Darn Cat.”
Symbols of history are everywhere in the square. A list of 10 South Carolina governors from Edgefield is printed in billboard fashion on the side of a building at the square's entrance. A life-size bronze statue of native son Sen. Strom Thurmond stands in the square facing the courthouse.
The present brick courthouse was constructed in 1839. The architect, Charles Beck, was an associate of Robert Mills, the best-known architect of antebellum South Carolina. Mills’ most famous building is the Washington Monument. A recent biographer says that although Mills did not design the Edgefield County Courthouse, it is one of the best examples of Mills’ style.
Offices for The Citizen News, a weekly newspaper created through the merger of three other county papers in 1982, are on the corner of the square. It had been under private ownership until December, 1998, when it was sold to Community Newspapers Inc. of Augusta, GA. The Edgefield Advertiser, South Carolina's oldest newspaper, is also located on the town square. It has been in existence since 1836.
Just off the square is the Old Edgefield Pottery building. Master potter Stephen Ferrell is on site reproducing the alkaline-glazed pottery originally created in Edgefield County in the mid-1800s. Demonstrations and lectures on the tradition and techniques of the stoneware are available by appointment.
Within walking distance of the square are four historical churches that are part of an annual Christmas tour portraying the birth of Jesus Christ in four vignettes. Irish stonecutters were brought to America in 1858 specifically to construct St. Mary's Catholic Church on Buncombe Street. The Edgefield First Baptist Church (c. 1823) on Church Street has produced outstanding ministers, one of whom was the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Trinity Episcopal Church on Simpkins Street, built about 1836, is on land donated by Edmund Bacon, whose home next door was built circa 1830. First United Methodist Church, at the comer of Bacon and Norris streets, is on property deeded in 1841 by the Rev. Joseph Moore. Moore, a missionary circuit rider for 65 years, is the only Revolutionary War veteran buried in Willowbrook Cemetery on Church Street next to Edgefield First Baptist Church.
Located in the rolling hills of west central South Carolina, Johnston was founded in 1870 when the first railroad came through, and chartered as the Town of Johnston on May 25, 1897. The town’s business district, which includes a quarter million dollar streetscape project completed in the 1990s, combines contemporary convenience with turn-of-the century charm. Gracious Southern homes of the Victorian era line the main streets. These homes, coupled with many modern homes and businesses, add to the charm of Johnston. Calhoun Street in Johnston provides the small town atmosphere that many Americans consider the South. Churches, antique stores, family owned restaurants, and other businesses are abundant here.
The peach industry has been a major contributor to Johnston’s economy. The town carries the title “Peach Capital of the World.” Johnston has become the home of several major industries. Located on the fringe of three urban areas Johnston combines country quiet and neighborliness with access to city services.
The people of Johnston are friendly, industrious, and plain spoken. They worship at numerous churches and their children attend award-winning public and private schools. This is Johnston, a town that combines the economic strength of world wide industry with the solidarity of an agricultural center of international recognition.
As you can see, Johnston is a place with variety and has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Visit our town and see for yourself! A perfect time to visit is during our Annual Peach Blossom Festival held on the first Saturday in May. Also plan to visit the Edgefield County Peach Museum while in town.
The coming of the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad also saw the establishment of the town of Trenton in the late 1860s. The area has been long known as the Pine House community, a name derived from the “Piney Woods Tavern” or “Pine House,” which was a stagecoach way-station located nearby.
It was here at the Pine House along the stagecoach way that President George Washington dined in 1791, during his trip from Augusta to Columbia. Today, a marker stands near the intersection of S.C. Highways 121, 19, and 25 reporting his visit.
James Monroe Wise is thought to be the founder of Trenton, as he built the first store and residence in 1870 (still standing on West Wise Street), and was instrumental in developing the village. In 1877, a town charter was issued in the name of Trenton, and the name of the post office was changed from Pine House to Trenton the next year.
South of the Town of Trenton, off Highway 25 (to the east) is the Bettis Academy Campus. Rev. Alexander Bettis, an African-American Baptist minister who founded more than 40 Baptist churches, established a school, Bettis Academy, here in 1881. It became a Junior College (boarding school), and contributed to the education of African-American students from many states in the U.S. as well as Edgefield County. The Biddle Hall Museum is now located on the campus site. Biddle Hall, one of the remaining Bettis Academy buildings, has been completely renovated and contains exhibits, portraits, books, and memorabilia from the college era. It is now open part-time for the public to enjoy.
Plantation homes such as “Darby” (1842), the former home of Governor Milledge Luke Bonham, and the “Pine House” (1868) on Highway 25 and “Marshfield” (1833) on Youngblood Road still stand near the town limits.
Ebenezer Baptist Church, organized in 1871, is located on the corner of East Wise Street and Airport Road. Here the gravesite of Governor Benjamin Ryan (Pitchfork Ben) Tillman, who was a U.S. Senator during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, is peacefully nestled among beautiful old magnolias, weathered wrought iron fences and moss-covered statuary. Tillman’s old home site is located outside of town on Highway 121 north of the Pine House.
When welcome visitors step inside three other old churches, Trenton Methodist (1874), Trenton Presbyterian Church (1875), and Our Savior Episcopal Church (1882), they experience a quiet reverence surrounded by simple and lasting tributes to devout inhabitants who carried the Christian banner for the Trenton community.
The Freedom Temple United Church of God was founded in 1972. The historical church building was once a school.
In recent years, the downtown square has been revitalized. Crepe myrtles, willow oaks, flowers, and various shrubs have been planted. A beautiful clock, a new flagpole and park benches add to the landscape. The square has been designated an official site on the S.C. National Heritage Corridor.
An historic building donated to the town by the Wise family has been converted into the Trenton Library and Visitors Center. This is a wonderful addition to the downtown area.
The residents of Trenton enjoy their small-town way of life. They feel a strong obligation to preserve it for future generations.