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Meriwether or Merriwether? Curryton or Curry Town?

 – By Vernon Miller –

In recent years there has been a trend to spell “Meriwether” with double R’s. This erroneous way of spelling Meriwether does not give the prominent family for which the community was named proper honor. This family has given us such illustrious men as Thomas Meriwether, Capt. Robert Meriwether, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, Dr. Snowden Griffin Meriwether, Joseph Meriwether, McKie Meriwether, et al. All these great men have played a very significant role in Edgefield’s rich history.  In this article we will discuss a few of the illustrious citizens of this old, distinguished family.

In 1819 Thomas Meriwether, Sr., deeded the land for Bethlehem Baptist Church, Clarks Hill.  (At that time Clarks Hill was a part of Edgefield District.)  His son, Joseph Meriwether, fought in the Mexican War.  He was a member of the famous Palmetto Regiment.

Capt. Robert Meriwether, at one owner of the Anderson Grist mill, fought in the Seminole War.  He was also instrumental in establishing the Curryton Academy.  When the War Between the States broke out, he served in the Confederate Army.  After the “War” he was one of the several from Edgefield who migrated to Brazil.

In his History of Edgefield Count, John Chapman tells us that Nicholas Meriwether was a prominent physician and farmer.  Like so many of his contemporaries, he was a Confederate veteran, also.

In downtown North Augusta there is a monument in memory of Thomas McKie Meriwether who died on July 8, 1876, at the Hamburg Riot.  The words, “Young hero of the Hamburg Riot,” are engraved on the stately monument.

The late Dr. Robert L. Meriwether, professor of history at USC and author of the outstanding book, The Expansion of South Carolina (1729-1775), is descended from the prominent Meriwether family of Edgefield.  His son, Robert O. Meriwether, was an English Professor at U.S.C. When he died in 2007, he was buried at the Meriwether Cemetery in McCormick.

In the Edgefield Chronicle, Editor James T. Bacon frequently wrote about social gatherings at Meriwether Hall on historic Martintown Road.  Meriwether Hall served as the meeting place of the Meriwether Agricultural Club. Unfortunately, today the sign in front of the building reads, “Merriwether Community Center.”

In her book, titled Slave Records of Edgefield County, Gloria R. Lucas mentions a number of Meriwether slave owners but no slave owners by the name of Merriwether.  Many of the Meriwether slaves were purchased by other Meriwethers.

As late as 1940, the census refers to the Meriwether Township.  (This is the latest census to be released to the public.) In an article about the presidential election of 1944, The Edgefield Advertiser referred to this community as Meriwether.

Until recent years, there was a road sign in the Meriwether Community bearing the name “Curryton Road.” Today that same road is referred to as the “Currytown Road.” Curryton Road was the road that led to the famous Curryton Academy.

In the nineteenth century Rev. Samuel Pace Getzen, a Baptist preacher, saw the need for a fine school in the Sweetwater Community. After discussing this with his friend, Joel Curry, Curry thought this was a wonderful idea. Consequently, he donated a handsome sum of money for the proposed school and land for the academy to be built on. Because of his generosity, it was decided to name the academy for Curry.  Thus, the road leading to the academies (both a male academy and a female academy) became known as the “Curryton Road.”

In Currytown Subdivision on “Curryton Road,” one will find the historic Curry Cemetery.  A number of Currys, including Pvt. John Curry of the Revolutionary War, are buried int his cemetery.  The Old Ninety Six District Chapter of the DAR dedicated a marker at his grave on Nov. 9, 2001

Isaac Boles shows both Curryton and Meriwether on his 1871 map.  Both Curryton and Meriwether are historical names, and their spelling should not be changed.