“Meriwether or Merriwether”

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

This is a belated response to your article “Meriwether or Merriwether” about the town of Meriwether, which I appreciated.  My name is Rebecca Meriwether; my grandfather was Dr. Robert Lee Meriwether, Chairman of the History Department at the University of South Carolina, and author of the Expansion of South Carolina mentioned in your article.  He and his wife, my grandmother Margaret Babcock Meriwether, also a writer, are buried in the Meriwether cemetery in Edgefield.  My grandfather grew up in Edgefield and began his lifelong interest in the history of the area by collecting Indian artifacts that he and other local farmers turned up in the fields.  He also had, and the family still has, a pot from the famous Edgefield slave potter “Dave;”  ours is inscribed “I’m Dave.”  Many of the grave markers in the Meriwether cemetery are for quite young people; the family story was that tuberculosis was particularly virulent in the nineteenth century, in the area.

I should correct a couple of things in your article, however.  Robert Lee and Margaret’s son, my father, was Dr. James Babcock Meriwether, a professor of English at the University of South Carolina, who was buried in that cemetery when he died in 2007.  (The Robert O. Meriwether you mention is my brother, still very much alive.)  Most recently, my aunt Margaret Woods Meriwether, a classics professor, daughter of Robert Lee and Margaret Meriwether, was buried in that cemetery in April 2013, so all 4 members of that family are now in that cemetery. In my generation there are three Meriwether boys, Robert, George and Nicholas, and two girls, my sister Margaret and me.  There are four Meriwether boys and one girl in the next generation.

In case your readers are interested, Meriwether is the more traditional spelling.  A Nicholas Meriwether emigrated from England to Virginia in 1650; the explorer Meriwether Lewis (whose mother was a Meriwether) was of that family.  In the late 18th century some Meriwethers moved from Virginia to the borders between South Carolina and Georgia; the town of Meriwether in South Carolina and the county of Meriwether in Georgia were named for these settlers.

Rebecca C. Meriwether