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James Earle Hagood papers

Born 30 November 1826 in Pickens District, James Earle Hagood was the son of Col. Benjamin Hagood (1788-1865) and Adaline Ambler Hagood (1808-1877). He was educated in the common schools, primarily under the tutelage of the Rev. John L. Kennedy, and was engaged in the mercantile business until 1856 when he was elected clerk of the circuit court of Pickens District, which office he held until the division of Pickens District in 1868. After the Civil War, Hagood read law, was admitted to the bar, and from 1868 until 1873 practiced law in partnership with Joseph J. Norton of Pickens. He was one of six commissioners appointed in 1868 to select a site for the present town of Pickens, and between 1869 and 1872 he represented Pickens County in the South Carolina General Assembly. In 1873, Hagood was appointed clerk of the United States Circuit Court for the district of South Carolina, Charleston, a position in which he continued until his resignation in 1903. James E. Hagood was married in 1847 to Esther ("Essie") Benson Robinson (1829-1889), and they were the parents of ten children. Hagood died 29 April 1904 and was buried in the Hagood family cemetery, Pickens County.

The bulk of this collection of one hundred thirty-five manuscripts, which constitutes an addition to the South Caroliniana Library's existing James Earle Hagood papers, falls within the period from the mid-1850s through 1867. Hagood served as clerk of the circuit court throughout the period of the Civil War and frequently was called upon to perform services for soldiers who were away in the army and for civilians who were destitute as a result of the war. The euphoria that initially greeted the prospect of war between the Confederacy and the United States is evident in a letter of Hagood's nephew J.B. Griffin, 27 July 1861, Whitfield County, Ga. Griffin's letter also deals with the question of authority which plagued the Confederacy throughout its existence. In this instance the enthusiastic volunteers were suddenly reminded that they could not set the terms of their own service. Griffin informed his uncle of the "rush" to join the army in his county—"the people in this country concluded to make one main rush to virginia and try to get men enough in the field to settle the difficulty between the united stats and the confederate states at once." Griffin joined a unit for twelve months "but when we got to our place of Rendesvous for drill Governor [Joseph] Brown came up and informed us in a very insulting speech that we were to be mustered into servis for three years....Upon this information the men marched off by hundreds to their homes and I made up one of that number." A letter, 16 January 1862, of R.Y.H. Griffin cites the considerable incidence of disease in his regiment—"the principal disease is Pneumonia & Jaundice," thanks Hagood for his assistance in securing uniforms for the troops, notes that Pickens District was supplying its share of soldiers, and reports the discontent of certain individuals who questioned Hagood's handling of money for the uniforms.

One of the companies raised in Pickens District may have been named in honor of Hagood. A document, 19 March 1862, signed at Charleston by Capt. J.M. Stewart, Co. F, 22nd South Carolina Regiment, is a tribute of respect passed by the Hagood Guards "as it has pleased an all wise Providence to take from our Ranks our beloved fellow Soldiers Mr. W. Winchester and Willoughby Winchester and Mr. Joberry Akin." A letter of Robert Johnston, 4 February 1862, Pickens District, to Capt. Z.C. Pulliam concerns the son of a Mrs. Harris. The mother requested that the son be transferred from Pulliam's company to Miles M. Norton's where he had a brother-in-law and several close friends—"she wishes her son to be in their society...he is young and inexperienced in the ways of the world." Johnston noted that granting her request "will relieve the trouble[d] mind of a woman who has but one son to console her in her old age."

Civilians and military personnel relied on Hagood and his family to attend to their material and financial needs. Elizabeth Dickson explained that she was unable to make payment on a note—"I am not able to tend to it myself nor wont be under two or three months....I have no farther nor near brother in this state to tend to it for me." John M. Partlow, 21 December 1862, Battery Marshall, Sullivan's Island, requested Hagood to send "four or five gallons of whiskey or brandy...as the water is so bad and wether so cold we are oblige[d] to have something to keep us a live." Alonzo M. Folger, 22 September [18]64, Confederate Way Hospital, Greenville, began his letter—"I desire to ask another favor of you (although I am ashamed to trouble you so much)" and requested Hagood to have the ordinary prepare papers appointing him guardian of Mary Jane Folger, his late wife's child.

The end of hostilities in 1865 did not diminish the requests for Hagood's assistance. Unlike a great many contemporaries in the South, especially planters, Hagood appeared to have weathered the conflict in a strong financial position. A letter from James B. Mays, 19 December 1865, Pendleton, seeks to borrow $2,500 to open a drug store in Pendleton with Dr. Sharpe "as we cannot make collections from those owing us," discusses his financial situation, and offers as security for the loan "a note on Andrew Alexander (bought from my brother) to which W.S. Grisham and yourself are securities." Hagood's postwar correspondence also documents the hardships that many people were experiencing as a result of wartime losses. Fanny H. Sharpe, 18 August 1866, Pendleton, informed Hagood that she and her daughters were considering moving away to seek positions as teachers and urged Hagood to "push" a Mr. Vernecke to make payment toward the purchase of her farm—"It is now three months since Capt. Sharpe left us & we have not yet been paid by Mr. Vernecke..." Joseph Nally, of Pickens District, sought Hagood's assistance against his creditors—"i have receiv as many as to summones a day and they will be executions by the time i have rote to you for to cum." Nally sought to avoid having "to hav my stuff sold for little or nothing" (6 September 1866). W.M. Hawkins requested that Hagood not press him on a debt that he owed Hagood's late father "for i am doing all i can to pay my debts and i will be able to pay you before long" (2 February 1867). D.D. Davies, writing from Webster, N.C., 20 May 1867, concerning a note that Hagood held against John Bowen and himself, explained his inability to make a scheduled payment "owing to my misfortune,—failing to get the money from some property I sold last winter" and asked for an extension. One of the most interesting requests of Hagood is contained in a letter of A.S. Stephens, 21 January 1867, Fair Play, who was employing a freedman between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. His parents were deceased, but a grandfather who, according to Stephens, has shown no prior interest in his grandson "come and clames the control of him." Stephens urged Hagood to have papers prepared appointing Dr. W.R. Harbin guardian—"The Dr. has consented to act for the Boay."

Hagood did engage in planting cotton in addition to all his other interests. A letter from J.J. Cunningham, 10 January [18]66, Abbeville, advised him that "Cotton is worth from 26 1/2 to 27¢" but that Hagood's cotton "as you represent yours to be could be sold in Augusta for 30 or 31¢." Cunningham advised that Hagood ship the cotton to Augusta where "you can make arrangements...to draw on it and hold for higher prices if you desire." A local market for cotton was also developing in the postwar period with the expansion of the textile industry in the upstate. One of the early promoters was William Perry of Pendleton. A letter, 20 February [1867], from Perry states terms for selling his yarn—"I am anxious to introduce my yarns in your Town—being satisfied that [the] more it is known—no other will be wanted." Perry also discussed his intention of starting a company with a capital of $60,000 to $100,000 and invited Hagood and his associates to invest—"I think it will be good policy to have a stockholder at...Pickens[,] Pendleton[,] Walhalla—Anderson & Abbeville to enable the co[mpany] to sell all the production of the mill at Home." But even Perry was compelled to call upon Hagood to pay "a heavy Tax bill...amounting to nearly five thousand dollars" (15 April 1867).

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