Capturing the History of Edisto Island: Oral History Interview with Murray, Marion

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Capturing the History of Edisto Island: Oral History Interview with Murray, Marion
Boineau, Caroline
Marian Calhoun Murray was born in Evanston, Illinois, and later moved with her family to Asheville, where she attended high school. While at Agnes Scott College, she was invited to a house party at Edisto, where she met her future husband, J.G. Murray, a native Edistonian. They married in 1935, in Asheville; she was henceforth known on Edisto as ‘the girl from off.’ The couple moved to the Island after a brief stay in Mt. Pleasant, where J.G. worked with Micah Jenkins at Boone Hall. Coming from the city, Marian had much to get used to when they moved to Edisto: the smell of pluff mud, no electricity, water delivered by a pump, and a wood stove to cook on. J.G. had gotten a job as landscape architect for the Edisto Beach State Park, being built by CCC workers. Marian and a friend tried to teach the young CCC workers to read and write—her first foray into teaching. Marian spoke briefly about the economy on Edisto in those early days, mentioning a repair shop, an oyster factory, several stores (Perry’s, Bailey’s, Posner’s), and farming, the backbone of the economy. By the mid-1940s, J.G. was managing the farm at Cypress Trees Plantation. Farming was done with mules, carts, and wagon, using the task system developed in the plantation days. Major crops were cabbages and potatoes. She also recounted memories of the hurricanes of 1940 and 1959 on Edisto, as well as wartime rationing. In 1941, when a vacancy came up at the Edisto Island School, Marian got a job teaching English, Latin, science, and biology. Parker Connor was the principal; other teachers during her time there included Sally Pope, Arlene Jenkins, Sarah Hopkinson, Lena Armstrong, Florence Park, and Clytie Sayer. Marian spoke of the strong support from the parent organization and from churches—only two at that time, she said, Presbyterian and Episcopalian—which put on annual holiday parties, operettas, and minstrel shows. The school underwent many changes during her 30-yeare tenure, including consolidation with mainland schools. The Edisto Island School closed in 1971, and Marian went on to teach at St. Paul’s Academy through 1976, serving in 1977 as headmistress. But she mourned the loss to Edisto: ‘We were sorry to see the school close,’ she said, ‘because that ended the main community spirit that held us together.’
Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Geographic Subject:
Edisto Island (S.C.)--History--20th Century, Edisto Island (S.C.)--History--Anecdotes, Edisto Island (S.C.)--Social life and customs
S.C. County:
Charleston County (S.C.), Colleton County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:
Copyright © EIHPS
Access Information:
For more information contact Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society, Edisto Island, SC 29442