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McDavid Horton Papers, 1902-1970
    A gift to the SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2005

| Gifts to Manuscripts 2005 | Front Page 2005 | Friends of the Library | Endowments |

One and one-quarter linear feet of papers, 1902-1970, which largely span the years 1919-1927, document the life and work of Anderson, S.C., native McDavid Horton (1884-1941), who served as private secretary to Sen. Nathaniel Barksdale Dial, 1919-1920, and later as managing editor of The State newspaper. Horton began his newspaper career at the age of sixteen as a reporter for the Greenville News and then became city editor for the Columbia Record. From there he took the position of city editor at The State. During this time, however, World War I was raging in Europe, and in 1917 he enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to the First Officersí Training Camp at Ft. Oglethorpe (Catoosa County, Ga.) and then was assigned to Camp Jackson (present day Fort Jackson). From there he was sent to France as a captain in the 316th Field Artillery Regiment, known as the Wildcats.

When the war ended Horton received a personal letter from Senator-elect N.B. Dial (1862-1940) that would change his life considerably. This letter, dated 25 February 1919, was a job offer to become Dialís private secretary in Washington, D.C. He accepted the job and upon returning to South Carolina immediately moved his family to Washington. Hortonís family included his wife, Sarah Flinn Horton, and a young daughter, Sarah.

In his position as secretary to Senator Dial, Horton was chiefly responsi¨ble for the Senatorís correspondence. He responded to requests for considerations regarding pending legislation, special favors such as job recommendations and aid in dealing with the military, as well as for general information. Quite often Horton heard from former military comrades who were encountering difficulties getting out of active military service or were having trouble adjusting to life at home after the war. Horton corresponded regularly with his former army colleagues and tried to keep track of others. Numerous letters from one soldier tell of finding the whereabouts of some members of the old regiment. This information was then passed along to the others and there was talk of publishing a regimental history.

During this period Horton also corresponded regularly with his family due to his motherís ill health. A particularly poignant letter from Hortonís mother tells of her memories of an earlier sickness that had kept her away from her children for a considerable period of time while they were young. In this letter of 31 May 1920, Mrs. Horton speaks of the importance of her family and the need to keep in touch with her children.

In 1920 Horton decided that Washington, D.C., was not where he belonged and thus moved back to South Carolina to work with his familyís businesses, the Anderson Gas and Utilities Company and the Anderson Real Estate and Investment Company. Horton spent the next two years in Anderson, during which time his wife was stricken with a second bout of tuberculosis and sent to a sanitarium in Asheville, N.C., for treatment. At this time Horton became involved once again in the newspaper business, when in a letter of 13 October 1921 Ambrose E. Gonzales (1857-1926), editor and co-founder of The State, told him of a job opening at the paper and subsequently, 18 March 1922, offered him the position of managing editor.

Correspondence after 1922 is less regular. There are personal letters regarding his daughterís education and travels, his familyís business enterprises, and his continuing devotion to the comrades with whom he had served in France. By 1927, while the correspondence in this collection has ceased, Hortonís work for The State and the United States military continued. When Horton had originally returned from France, he was commissioned a major of field artillery in the Officers Reserve Corps and later became a civilian aide to the secretary of war for South Carolina. In this position he was put in charge of the citizens military training camp activities in South Carolina. Even while not on full-time duty, Horton remained involved in the military sector and in 1921 began to research the idea of establishing a National Guard unit for his native state.

In July 1926 Horton had just reported to Ft. Bragg for summer military training when he received by telegram the news of Ambrose Gonzalesí death. At this time Gonzalesí brother William took over as the paperís editor. When William died in 1937, however, Horton was then made editor of the paper, a position that he held until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 17 October 1941. In addition to correspondence, this collection contains newspaper clippings that were collected by or sent to McDavid Horton. One topic of special interest to him was the advancing technology of radio and the establishment of broadcast radio stations in the Southeast. Horton recognized the value of getting information to the public as soon as possible and was investigating the possibility of connecting the radio and newspa¨per businesses in order to speed up the dissemination of news.

Photographs of note in the collection include one of Woodrow Wilson surrounded by his family on the front porch of the George Howe house in Columbia, and a portrait of Margaret Smyth McKissick. An autograph book contains nine signatures of persons of importance to McDavid Horton, among them Archibald Rutledge and Samuel Gaillard Stoney.

This page updated 26 June 2005
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