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Letter to the Editor

Writer contends funds for "operational expenses" of county government should be ignored to support Tompkins Library

web posted March 27, 2009
Dear Editor,
Because of recent and impending budget cuts in the state of South Carolina, the Edgefield County Council is contemplating cutting the Tompkins Library, which houses the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society and the Old Edgefield District African American Genealogical Society, out of its budget.  This will be devastating for the Library as the monies received from the County ($17,500) is used for operational expenses. 
I was shocked when I read the e-mail concerning the possibility that the library might lose funding from the County for operational expenses.  Frankly, and I thought about this for some time, how is in world can the County justify NOT funding the Library?  What else brings people into Edgefield?
I spent my early years in North Augusta and Augusta.  My grandmother told me she was born in Edgefield in 1880, and that was all I knew about Edgefield until I became interested in genealogy in the mid 1990s.  Now I know that many of my ancestors were in Edgefield by the mid-1700s.  What a rich history? 
Many of us have to travel several hours by car, some even more to fly, to the area for research.  One trip is never enough.  We stay in area motels and guest houses, eat in your restaurants, make purchases, etc.  As a matter of fact, I have planned a trip to Edgefield in April and have reservations at the Edgefield Inn.  We will eat our meals in Edgefield, etc.  I remember on one trip about five years ago, I purchased a pair of denim "farmer pants" overalls at the store 2-3 doors down from the Library to wear during a day of cemetery cleaning.  I can't tell you how many peach cobblers, jars of peach preserves, and churns of peach ice I have made with peaches purchased in Edgefield and brought home to North Carolina.
I have been a member of OEDGS for many years, bought many books there, and donated many books also.  If not for the Library I would never come to Edgefield.  I have attended a family reunion at the Library.
I have been a member of five other genealogical societies over the years, but none is more active or caring than the OEDGS folks who run the Tompkins Library.  My goodness, it is obvious the County Commissioners have no clue what goes on there.  One more thing, I am not aware of any other genealogical society that has done more to promote black genealogy.  On my last visit, there were three members of a black family visiting from California (I think) doing research. Edgefield should be proud of the Tompkins Library and the wonderful staff. 
If the people of Edgefield have to go to other towns and cities for recreation and higher learning, what is there to bring people in?  I am aware of the National Wild Turkey Fed. Center, but have not visited and doubt it draws too many from too far.  I just did an online search for things to do and places to go in Edgefield, and found nothing to change my mind.
Visiting Edgefield is like coming home...I feel such a connection. 
Barbara G. McGowan
Leland, NC

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