Jasper County reaches milestone inspired for the future

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJanuary 31, 2012 

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Jasper County paused Monday to quietly mark the 100th anniversary of the day it was carved from Hampton and Beaufort counties.

The outdoor ceremony fit a resolution read by state Sen. Clementa Pinckney: "Jasper County quietly boasts enchanting coastal plains filled with spreading moss-covered live oaks, supple palmettos and stately pines."

The county seal includes a deer, a duck and a fish, as well as dogwood blooms and four pine cones to depict a sporting paradise, conservation and a major industry -- timber production.

Rita Williams Livingston, adjunct professor of history at the College of Charleston, told the gathering by the courthouse that the third-youngest county in South Carolina was created from 400 square miles of Hampton County and 200 square miles of Beaufort County.

One reason was education. The railroad that formed the county line split Gopher Hill, now Ridgeland, right down the middle, and nobody was satisfied with the split schools. And they didn't like the 70-mile one-way trip to the county seat in Beaufort. Also, local businessmen wanted to form a county. A newspaper was established to promote the concept, and it passed easily. In 1951, another 80 square miles of Beaufort County, including Hardeeville, was brought into Jasper.

Livingston, born and reared in Ridgeland, sketched highlights of Jasper's first century. For example, Mary Gordon Ellis, a progressive educator, in 1928 became the first woman to serve in the South Carolina Senate.

Jasper has sent its sons and daughters into every war. In World War II it had a number of four- and five-star mothers.

Pinckney said that as he sits in committee meetings in Room 308 in the Gressette Building in Columbia, his mind sometimes wanders to its huge painting of Sgt. William Jasper, the Revolutionary War hero his home is named for.

Pinckney sees lessons for everyone in that battle scene.

"It speaks of intestinal fortitude in the midst of hard times," Pinckney said. "It's as if he is urging us to do the right thing, even when it hurts."

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