The Index-Journal Photo by Danny McNeil (Greenwood County Library Vertical File)
In Six secrets found in the library's vertical file you learned about the type of records that you can discover in a vertical file. If you know a few basic details about your ancestor such as church, school and employment, you might discover more resources buried in the vertical file that you would ordinarily overlook.
Discovering the history of places or organizations adds another dimension to your research. Fortunately, because the oral history of Beverly Vance (1832-1899) still survives, it was easy to find links to the past in the Greenwood County Library’s vertical file. Take a look at a couple of significant finds made so far.
Old Abbeville Jail
Beverly Vance was a constable in Cokesbury, South Carolina (once part of Abbeville County) since emancipation. He was very active in politics giving speeches and advising his people to vote for the Republican Party. According to his recorded testimonies documented in Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of South Carolina, his life was threatened and he was intimidated by Democrats because he was a very influential leader.
It was great to actually find a newspaper clipping from The Index-Journal of history of the Old Abbeville Jail built in 1846 with a photo in the vertical file. Knowing something of an ancestor’s occupation can lead you to the history of the actual places where they worked.
Beverly had been warned that if he voted, he would be killed ten days later. About a month before the 1868 election, Senator B. F. Randolph stopped at Hodges Depot on his election tour. Senator Randolph was assassinated on the train’s platform in broad daylight and died.
According to his testimony, Beverly was only a mile away from the train depot. One is left to wonder if Beverly was on his way to Hodges Depot to hear Senator Randolph speak from the train platform or provide protection. This was a common place for candidates to make speeches.
Unlike, Senator Randolph, Beverly knew the people who threatened his life, and he knew they had the potential to make good on their threats. He went on to vote in the 1876 election in South Carolina, and he successfully lived to raise all of his children.
Discovering a photo and history of Hodges Depot and the Old Abbeville Jail in the vertical file made this bit of history seem all the more real. It is worth your every effort to glean as much information as possible from oral history and research findings.
Resources found in the vertical file have a way of breathing life back into your research although the sources for items you find are often not included making it difficult to cite or find the original source. It is encouraging, however, to see the potential for discovery in the local newspaper from the clippings in the vertical file.