For Students A true cast of characters.

Think of a colorful drama that covers nearly 200 years. The setting is a house, and everyone who lived or worked there was part of the story. Some played large roles in history, while others contributed in less significant ways. Some people were famous, and others ordinary. Together, they can help us understand and appreciate the past. They also help us see the world around us differently. Everyone has a story. It’s fun to find out what those stories are.

Lucy Holcombe Pickens

Lucy Holcombe was born in 1832 in Tennessee, but moved to Marshall, Texas, when her parents settled on a cotton plantation there. As she grew into womanhood, Lucy caught the eye of adoring men, who were swept off their feet by her “classic features, titian hair, pansy eyes, and graceful figure” — all that Southern beaus looked for in their belles.

In the summer of 1856, Lucy met Francis Wilkinson Pickens, twice a widower and 27 years her senior. Her acceptance of his marriage proposal, it is said, hinged on his agreement to take a diplomatic post abroad. President James Buchanan appointed him ambassador to Russia, and Pickens and Lucy married in 1858. Lucy was a favorite at the Russian court, but Pickens resigned his post in the fall of 1860, anticipating the bloody start of the Civil War. Upon his return home to America, he was elected governor of South Carolina. By selling the jewels she had been given in Russia, Lucy helped outfit the Confederate Army unit named for her, the Lucy Holcombe Legion. Her portrait was also used on Confederate notes issued during the first days of the war, a distinction that earned her the title “Queen of the Confederacy.”

C. G. Memminger, then Secretary of the Treasury for the Confederacy and a great admirer of the Pickens couple, used Lucy’s picture — copied from the likeness of a marble bust done of her in Rome — on $1 bills printed in 1862 and ’63 and on $100 bills printed in 1864. She was the only woman to appear on Confederate money, a privilege usually reserved for heads of state.
Although the war wrecked the South, Lucy kept the Pickens’ home, “Edgewood,” at the center of social circles.

In January 1869, Francis Pickens died there. Lucy continued to live in the house and managed three plantations with the help of her brother John. Though only 36 when her husband passed, Lucy never remarried.

She died in 1899 at Edgewood, then located near Edgefield, S.C., and was buried with her husband and daughter Douschka Pickens Dugar in Edgefield Cemetery.

Douschka Pickens Dugar

Her given name was Francis Eugenia Olga Neva Pickens, and she was the only child of Francis and Lucy Pickens. Born in Russia in 1859, some speculate, although history cannot confirm, that her biological father was actually Tzar Alexander II of Russia, with whom Douschka’s mother spent a great deal of time while her husband was serving as U.S. ambassador to Russia. The family’s stay was cut short, however, by news that South Carolina was inching closer to secession. They returned home to Edgewood in August of 1860.

Francis Pickens became Governor on December 17, just three days before South Carolina seceded from the Union.

The Pickens’ daughter was affectionately called “Douschka,” Russian for “little darling.” The Tzarina added Olga and Neva to the infant’s name during her christening.

After her return home to America, Alexander II, wrote to Douschka once a year letters that would be saved for her future. When the Tsar died in an explosion in the dining room of his winter palace, his son, who succeeded him to the throne, continued contact with Doushka. When she married George Dugar he sent her a beautiful set of diamonds. He would also continue the annual letters until her death from a fever.

After the American Civil War, Douschka led Edgefield County’s Red Shirt movement, riding horseback in a red cape and matching feather in her hair. At the time, red symbolized pride and continued resistance for white Democrats of South Carolina. Women sewed red flannel shirts and other garments of red. It became fashionable for women to wear red ribbons in their hair and around their waists. For young men, to wear a red shirt was to come of age and compensate for their inability to contribute to the Southern cause of the Civil War.

The Red Shirts fought openly to defeat Republican political candidates and limit the civil rights of newly freed slaves. That now seems a bit ironic, since Douschka’s godfather, Alexander II, liberated the serfs in Russia, and Lucinda, a loyal maidservant of the family, helped to raise Douschka.

The Red Shirts blocked the polls to override freed slaves’ votes in South Carolina, a tactic that helped elect General Wade Hampton III governor in 1876. In Edgefield, Douschka, although she was only 17, rode ahead of armed men who seized control of the county courthouse, outnumbering federal troops and preventing blacks from voting. She was nicknamed “Joan of Arc of Carolina” for her leadership in the elections. Douschka died in 1893. She was 35.

Her mother Lucy died five years later on August 8, 1899, leaving Edgewood, the family home, to Douschka’s two daughters.

Francis Wilkinson Pickens

Francis Wilkinson Pickens was born in Colleton County, SC, into a renowned political family. His father was former Gov. Andrew Pickens. His grandfather was Gen. Andrew Pickens, an American Revolutionary soldier, and later U.S. Congressman.

Francis Wilkinson Pickens attended both Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) and South Carolina College and went on to study law. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1828. That same year, Pickens’ father built Edgewood for his son, a palatial mansion in Edgefield, SC.

A Democrat, Francis Pickens served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1832 to 1834. During that time, he was a huge supporter of nullification, the belief that a state did not have to follow a federal law and could, in effect, “nullify” it.

The idea that “states’ rights” superseded federal law was promoted by John C. Calhoun, one of the most experienced and powerful politicians in the country, and was, to some extent, a precursor to the secession crisis that triggered the Civil War 30 years after Pickens adopted the nullification doctrine.

After his initial term in the state Legislature, Pickens served in Congress, representing South Carolina from 1834 to 1843. Shortly, thereafter, he returned to state politics as a senator. Twice U.S. presidents asked Pickens to serve abroad, first as Minister of England and then as Minister of France, but he declined the appointments.

Only one thing could change his mind about foreign diplomacy. He fell in love.

In the summer of 1856, he met Lucy Holcombe. She would not marry him until he agreed to become an ambassador to Russia. It was the life that Lucy longed for, and she thrived as a Southern belle mingling with Russian royals and nobility. Pickens was ambassador there from 1858 until 1860, when the state Legislature elected him governor by secret ballot. The couple hurried home to assume their roles on a stage of war.

Just six days after Pickens’s gubernatorial election, South Carolina seceded from the Union, and Pickens authorized the first military action of the Civil War. On January 9, 1861, South Carolina troops fired on the unarmed Union merchant ship Star of the West as it attempted to relieve the Federal Army garrison at Fort Sumter.

After leaving office, Pickens retired from public life except to appear at the 1865 South Carolina Constitutional Convention, where he urged cooperation with President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction plan.

Once a wealthy planter who dispensed broad hospitality at Edgewood Plantation, the best known of the antebellum plantations of the Edgefield District, Pickens spent his last years in debt, losing almost everything during the war. He died in 1869 and is buried at Willow Brook Cemetery in Edgefield.

Eulalie Chafee Salley

Eulalie Chafee Salley was born on December 11, 1883, near Lewisville, GA. Her mother trained in Baltimore as a concert pianist. Her father worked in the kaolin industry. The Chafees owned a large farm and an equally impressive home in nearby Augusta but moved to little-known Aiken, SC, when Eulalie was 9.

In 1906, Eulalie Chaffee, then 23, married Julian Booth Salley, mayor of Aiken. The town was beginning to boom as a haven for Northern millionaires who were attracted by its mild winters and the availability of land for palatial homes, horse breeding, training and games the wealthy played. The very rich flocked to Aiken in such great numbers that they were called its “Winter Colony.”

To be the First Lady of the town indelibly stamped by wealth and power was not enough for Eulalie, however. The public life that had an air of excitement was seasonal, and her life the rest of the year seemed mundane.

Book smart and ambitious, she admitted that, “limiting her to domestic [life] was like hitching a racehorse to a plow.” It just wouldn’t work.  Stifled by the role she was expected to play as wife and mother, Salley began fighting for women’s rights.

In 1909, a famous court case lit her fire. It involved the granddaughter of Lucy Holcombe Pickens, the former First Lady of Edgewood mansion. While Lucy Tillman Dugas, named for her grandmother, fought a sudden illness that threatened her life, her husband found a loophole in South Carolina law that allowed him to “deed” their children to his parents, Senator Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman and his wife Sarah. As the case played out in the national news, Eulalie grew increasingly angry at what she saw as callous disregard for women’s rights. When she spotted a newspaper ad promoting membership in the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League, she paid $1 to join. “That was the best dollar I ever spent,” Eulalie often repeated as she rose through the ranks of the organization.

She attended national conventions and staged local events that raised large amounts of money for the advancement of women’s suffrage. She even got a Realtor’s license so she could personally fund the cause with her earnings. In 1919, Eulalie was elected SCESL president. The following year, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed, giving women the right to vote. It was ratified nationally on August 18, 1920. After that date, each state could ratify it individually by a majority vote of its representatives. South Carolina rejected the amendment, but Salley never lost sight of the cause. Finally, on July 1, 1969, she was able to witness the fruits of more than a half-century of effort. At age 85, she watched Governor Robert McNair sign a bill to ratify the women’s suffrage amendment.

Eulalie never got to vote, however. Ironically, the paperwork was “lost” for the next 10 years, and the amendment was not officially ratified in South Carolina until 1979 — four years after Salley’s death.

Her contributions to the suffrage movement were tied to a different kind of legacy. The Realtor’s license she obtained to fund her political passion was not an idle choice. Eulalie simply had a good eye for real estate, and when she saw Edgewood mansion, abandoned and imperiled by neglect, she convinced her husband they should buy it, and they did in 1929.

Their plan was to preserve the stately house, and Eulalie originally offered it to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The organization could not fund the restoration, so the Salleys took it on themselves. The home was dismantled and moved board by board from Edgefield to Aiken. Eulalie lived there until her death.

The real estate company she founded – the business that brought her to Edgewood — still exists and bears her name. So too does the house she saved from ruin.