Perspective is an important term to have in the vocabulary when attempting a retrospective look into a community. I have had the privilege of learning many varying perspectives over the course of the last eight years while researching for the publication of West Ashley — part of Arcadia’s Images of America series; writing the West Ashley Flashback column and coordinating the West Ashley History Series for the Cynthia Graham Hurd St Andrew’s Library. At the last lecture of this fall’s series I was humbled to learn that the series is one of the most popular at the library. Thank you for reading, e-mailing, listening, and supporting!
It did not take me long after moving west of the Ashley to realize the camaraderie of the long-term residents of the area. They came across the river, settled into new homes, built churches, schools and businesses, and developed a community with a strong sense of pride. Fast-forward 30-plus years and I’m immersed in researching this 20th century history of West Ashley. Oral histories provided by these long-term residents are a fun aspect of historical research. One of the very first things that these residents will emphasize during an interview is that the name of the area is St. Andrew’s Parish.
The term “West Ashley” is a more modern reference, probably born out of the time when the subject of incorporation/annexation was being heavily debated. I have not found a specific published discussion on the topic of the area’s name, but in 1943, 1947, and 1963 the St. Andrew’s Exchange Club published brochures entitled: Celebration of Progress-St. Andrew’s Parish, A Vision of Tomorrow – St. Andrew’s Parish, and St. Andrew’s Parish: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, respectively.
The St. Andrew’s Exchange Club was formed in 1941. World War II was threatening and the community leaders felt the need to organize as the manpower and resources of the Parish might need coordination. By 1943 the members decided to honor the progress made for the area in the completion of the water main under the Ashley River. It was quite the accomplishment to complete this critical piece of infrastructure during wartime and in a six-month period of time.
The Exchange Club planned a celebration in October of that year and they published their first brochure as a keepsake for the community. Filled with letters congratulating the Parish on its achievements, photographs of typical scenes, business ads, and a historical sketch entitled Saint Andrew’s Parish: Its Historic Past — Its Progressive Present — Its Glorious Future, it’s a perfect time capsule. The club continued this tradition in two more brochures documenting the Parish’s progress with great pride. The second brochure entitled A Vision of Tomorrow — St. Andrew’s Parish was published to celebrate the establishment of the first post office in the Parish. To date there has not been a documented reason for the publication of the 1963 brochure — have to keep digging! To the best of my research, the club no longer exists under this name. However, if you have any information about the early St. Andrew’s Exchange Club please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I continue to write the West Ashley Flashback column for you, I will be ever aware of perspective and we can have some fun exploring the twentieth century history of St. Andrew’s Parish, West Ashley.
Donna Jacobs is a local author and historian. Share your stories of St. Andrew’s Parish with her at email@example.com