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Historic Women

The following are some of the most prominent women from Clarendon county:

Elizabeth Peyre Richardson Manning (1794-1873) was the niece, wife, sister, mother, aunt and grandmother of six South Carolina governors. The town of Manning was named after her son, John Lawrence Manning.

Elizabeth Manning was the niece of Governor James Burchell Richardson, the wife of Governor Richard Irvine Manning, the sister of Governor John Peter Richardson, the mother of Governor John Lawrence Manning, the aunt of Governor John Peter Richardson, and the grandmother of Governor Richard Irvine Manning.

Peggy Parish (1927-1988) was an American writer known best for the children's book series and fictional character Amelia Bedelia. Peggy was born in Manning, South Carolina, attended the University of South Carolina, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Parish became a household name by the time her final work, "Amelia Bedelia's Family Album", was published before her death in 1988.  See Wikipedia.

Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was born on August 25, 1927, in the town of Silver in Clarendon county, South Carolina. In 1930, during the Great Depression, her family decided to move to Harlem, New York.

By 1939, at the age of 12, she was the New York City women's paddle tennis champion. In 1941 she entered—and won—her first tournament, the American Tennis Association (ATA) New York State Championship. She won the ATA national championship in the girls' division in 1944 and 1945. She then went on to win the ATA national championship for women.

In 1956, Althea Gibson, a native of Clarendon county, became the first black person to win a Tennis Grand Slam title (French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.  See Wikipedia.

Anne Worsham Richardson (1919-2012) was born in Clarendon county in 1919. She began painting at an early age and at 16 moved to Charleston and began specializing in bird paintings. She painted thousands of works and held shows across the country. Her painting “Carolina Wren and Yellow Jessamine” hangs in the Statehouse and represents the official State Bird and Flower. She also painted the State Butterfly (“Yellow Swallow-tailed with Wild Azalea”).

She was inducted into the S.C. Hall of Fame in 1991. She was a member of the Carolina Art Association, Charleston Artist Guild, Guild of South Carolina Artists, Charleston Natural History Society, National Audubon Society and Carolina Bird Club.

She was the owner of Birds I View Gallery on Church Street and the widow of John P. Paszek. Anne Worsham Richardson Paszek died in 2012 at the age of 92.

Anne Custis Burgess (1874-1910) composed the music for the state song "Carolina", based on a poem by Henry Timrod. Miss Burgess graduated from Converse College and became a music teacher. She lived in Summerton, S.C. from 1881-1910.

Bessie B. Parker - The first woman to be ordained a Methodist minister in S.C.  She served at Andrews Chapel just outside the town of Summerton from 1959-1962 and is buried in their cemetery.


With the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, women across America finally obtained the right to vote in elections. The amendment was the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the U.S., which fought for decades, at both state and national levels, to achieve the right to vote. South Carolina didn't officially ratify the19th Amendment until July 1969.

South Carolina State Song

Caroline Johnson was one of the first black women to enter the business world in Clarendon County. Courthouse records show that Mrs. Johnson acquired a farm consisting of 354 acres of land which, at that time, made her one of the major landholders in the area. In addition to establishing one of the first cotton gins in the county, she also  established the Johnson Mercantile Company.

Marion McKnight was born December 19, 1936, in Manning, South Carolina. This former beauty pageant contestant won the Miss America title in 1957. As an actress, Marian has appeared in numerous television shows and countless commercials. As a public relations director or spokesperson, Marian has represented such notable companies as Revlon, Evan-Piccone, Philco, and General Foods. She married actor Gary Conway in 1958. They have two children and are owners of the Carmody McKnight winery.

Pansy Ridgeway became the first woman to be elected mayor of Manning in 1969. She served as mayor of Manning from 1970–96 and was the third woman elected mayor in South Carolina and the first woman elected president of the South Carolina Municipal Association. In 1982, Manning city hall was renamed the Pansy Ridgeway Administrative Building in her honor.

Dr. Sylvia Clark worked as a teacher, child welfare worker, school principal and Clarendon School District 2 superintendent. She was named as the Outstanding Elementary Principal for South Carolina in 1983 and South Carolina School Superintendent of the Year in 1994. Under her leadership, Manning Primary School was named a National Center of Excellence in 1984.Clark holds a B.A., M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina.

Betty Roper began her professional career in Clarendon County in broadcasting, as the owner of the popular WHLZ-FM, better known as "Wheels 92.5" and other radio stations. Roper also had a long political career, serving on Clarendon County Council for years. In 1988 she became the first woman ever elected to chair the County Council, a position she held for three terms.

Ms. Roper has been recognized by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association and included in the South Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 1992 she received the SC Order of the Palmetto from Gov. Carroll Campbell and in 2002 was named Business Professional of the Year by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.

Julia Nelson completed Senator Johnson’s term as Manning's mayor when he was elected Representative and she was unopposed in the next election. Julia Nelson was the first Black female to hold the position of Mayor in the City of Manning.

Other notable women include: Frances Richbourg, Clarendon county's first female fire chief; Edna Eagerton, S.C. Mother of the Year in 1996; Chief Summary Court Judge Annelle Powell, Dr. Rose Wilder, and many others to be profiled here shortly.

* Interesting History Site: Learn more about the Women's Rights Movement at Historynet.com

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