Six and one-quarter linear feet of material—correspondence, land papers, receipts, photographs, genealogies, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous related volumes—documenting the history of the Boylston and Salley families and the Aiken County town of Salley, S.C., span from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century.
Boylston family materials primarily document the family of Austin Boylston (1802-1880) and Mary Reed Boylston (1801-1877). The couple lost four children during the Civil War. Sons Samuel Reed Boylston (1829-1864) and Lucian Austin Boylston (1846-1864) died as members of the 5th Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry, while daughters Ellen (1836-1862) and Mary (1831-1864) were victims of typhoid fever. A year before her death, Ellen received a letter from a friend in Carterville, Ga., written on 20 June 1861. “Fannie” discussed the troops leaving her town, observing of “those detestable yankees”that she “could not keep from saying confound them for they have been the instigators of all our national troubles.” She went on to say that, “while our hearts should overflow with gratitude” that the South had been victorious thus far, “we should feel chastened and humiliated for as a people we had reveled in wealth and prosperity untill we had become almost forgetfull of Him whose beneficent hand had so long showered these rich blessings upon us.”
Two other sons of Austin and Mary served in the Civil War, both in the 2nd Regiment, South Carolina Artillery, Pressley Jefferson Boylston (b. 1840) and George William Boylston (1843-1925). While they were stationed in South Carolina, their sisters wrote to them often, sharing news of home. George William Boylston and his wife, Caroline Riley Boylston (1844-1913), are heavily represented in the collection., mainly through correspondence and receipts. Another son of Austin and Mary Reed Boylston, James Wyatt Boylston (1827-1889), was the grandfather of Ena Boylston (1907-2003) who married Hemrick Nathan Salley, Sr. (1903-2004), in 1931, thereby uniting two of Salley’s oldest families. A photograph album containing over eighty portraits of Austin and Mary Boylston’s descendants includes members of the Crum, Staley, and Phillips families and the family of Austin’s brother Jason Boylston (b. 1801).
Salley family items, in large part legal and land papers, pertain chiefly to the descendants of Howell Allan Salley (1835-1894) and Eugenia Haseltine Corbitt (1838-1894), in particular Francis Eugene Salley (1871-1930), Oscar Jacob Salley (1873-1928), and Bird Salley (1879-1933). It was Francis Eugene Salley’s son Hemrick who married Ena Boylston. Oscar Jacob Salley married Ena’s aunt, Alma Boylston (1875-1902), a daughter of James Wyatt Boylston. The majority of Salley family correspondence in the collection belonged to Bird Salley’s wife, Maggie Pridgen Salley (b. 1877). She received a letter in 1918 from her brother Adolph with the 119th United States Infantry. He was stationed in Greenville and complained that “one of the new duties imposed on me is the instruction of a bunch of illiterate men. I have to instruct them in the simple art of reading and writing.”
A number of items not immediately connected with the Boylstons and Salleys shed light upon the town of Salley, from a copy of the municipality’s incorporation papers to a series of scrapbooks documenting the annual festival known as the Salley Chitlin Strut, from 1966 to 1992. The 1890 poll list for “School Election in Salley” contains the names of one hundred eighty voters. Contained also in the collection is the 1898 muster out roll for the Bamberg Guards and the Palmetto Rifles, both of which included among their members men from Salley; a Salley Town Council minute book, 4 May 1908-6 November 1917; and a file of 1997 National Register of Historic Places nomination paperwork.
Other surnames prominently featured in the collection include the West, Dicks, and Jones families. The West family files consist mainly of correspondence written during World War I from brothers Jerome and Holley West to their father, Perry West (1853-1926), and younger brother, Lawton West (1897-1963). The family of Angus Fulton Dicks (1856-1935) is represented by correspondence, photographs, and various memorabilia. Jones family material consists of letters written between 1964 and 1972 to Ernest and Ruth Jones from Beverly Hills , California, by their daughter, Madelyn Earle Jones (1919-1999), better known in Hollywood as television and screen actress Lois Collier (1919-1999).
Individual items of note include two early documents. One, dated 5 March 1770, is a land grant to Richard Hall for one hundred fifty acres “in Granville County in the Fork of the three Runs & Tinkers Creek the Waters of Savannah River,” signed by William Bull. The other, dated 3 April 1786, is a land grant to John Green for two hundred fifty acres “in the District of Orangeburgh on Both Sides of the upper three Runs Waters of Savannah River” and is signed by William Moultrie and accompanied by a plat. An 1837 policy from the Charleston Fire and Marine Insurance Company to William Patton, Charleston, S.C., insured “the lives of Nine Negroes for One year,” listing names, occupations, and ages of the slaves covered by the policy. A letter written in 1866 by “Cousin Camilla” in Norfolk, Virginia, to an unnamed cousin proclaims that the author looked forward to joining her cousin in the White Mountains some summer when “we have all been reconstructed (if we can be!).”