The Barnwell Ring
In 1941 Barnwell County was home to four of the most powerful men in South Carolina government. Serving for a time simultaneously,
Edgar A. Brown, Chm. of the Senate Finance Committee
J. Emile Harley, Governor
Pres. Pro Tem of the Senate
Solomon Blatt, Sr., Speaker of the House,
and Winchester Smith, Chm. of the Ways and Means Com.,
comprised the legendary Barnwell Ring:
Loved, Feared, and Fought!
Was it real or fiction?
Three members of the Ring lived in sight of Collins Park.
Gov. Harley lived across Main Street to the north,
Sen. Brown fifth house west of the Park on Main Street
and Re. Blatt sixth house south of the Park
on Marlboro Avenue.
The Barnwell Ring continues to catch the attention of political scientists, politicians, historians, and the media.
Born February 27, 1895, in Blackville, SC, Barnwell County
Died May 14, 1986
Married Ethel Green, Sumter, S.C., March 18, 1920
1 child, Sol. Blatt, Jr.
Member of the South Carolina
House of Representatives 1933-1986
Speaker Pro Tempore 1935-1937
Speaker 1937-1946, 1951-1973
Speaker Emeritus, July 31, 1973, until his death
Lawyer first with Governor J. Emile Harley in the form of Harley & Blatt, 1917-1934, and thereafter as the senior partner in the firm of Blatt & Fales, 1935-1986.
Trustee, Barnwell School district, 34 years
Trustee, University of South Carolina 1936-1948
Recognized throughout the State of South Carolina as "Mr.Speaker," he loved his State and County, particularly his birthplace, as well as his family and his Alma Mater, the University of South Carolina, where he graduated in Law, 1917. He reputedly served as Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives longer than any other person had served as presiding officer of any legislative body in America, and, at the time of his death, Speaker Blatt had served a total of 53 consecutive years in the House of Representatives, an accomplishment which won him recognition by the National Council of Governments as the country's longest serving legislator.
Along with "The Bishop of Barnwell," state Senator Edgar Brown, the longtime Senate president pro tempore, Solomon Blatt helped fashion much of South Carolina's modern state government.
In 1982, the House dedicated the legislative session to Solomon Blatt. "I've tried to do the best I could for the state," Blatt responded, "a state I love so much."
Edgar Allan Brown
Born July 11, 1888, in Aiken County
Died June 26, 1975
Married Annie Love Sitgraves
1 child, Emile MaBurney (Mrs. R.M. Jefferies, Jr.)
Court Stenographer, 2nd Circuit, 1908-1918
Member of the House of Representatives, 1921-1926
Speaker of the House, 1925-1927
South Carolina Senator, 1929-1972
Senate President Pro Tempore, 1942-1972
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee, 1942-1972
Board of Trustees Member, 1934-1947
Live Member, 1948-1975
President of the Board, 1966-1975
President, S.C. Bar Association, 1947
Chairman, Democratic Party, 1922-1926, 1952-1953
A career of public service dedicated to the people of Barnwell County and the State of South Carolina, whose name is synonymous with fiscal responsibility in government, an efficient highway system, and advanced educational opportunities for people of Barnwell County and the State of South Carolina.
More than any other simple individual through the years, the Senator from Barnwell, for fifteen years now as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has insisted upon spending the taxpayer's money in the right places at the right times in the right amounts. Much more often then not, he determined efforts to keep not only the State budget in balance, but a better balanced State economy have been successful. The Hon. Sol. Blatt at Senator Brown's Senate Portrait Unveiling.
Known affectionately as:
That Man Brown
Mr. Prime Minister
The Bishop from Barnwell
Joseph Emile Harley
Born, September 14, 1880, in Williston, South Carolina
Died February 27, 1942,while serving as Governor
Married Agnes Richardson
3 children, Joseph Emile Harley, Jr., William Hummel Harley and Martha Jaudon Harley Piper
Veteran, Spanish-American War, 1989
Member, South Carolina House of
Mayor, City of Barnwell, 1910-1920
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee, 1929-30
Elected Lt. Governor, 1934
Re-elected Lt. Governor, 1938
Appointed Governor, 1941-42
Special Judge by Appointment of the Supreme Court
Staff of Governor Thomas McLeod
For many years, Joseph Emile Harley was one of the leading lawyers of the State and was prominently active n public affairs.His record as a legislator is one of effective and useful service. Much od his work represented a definite constructive contribution to civic programs.
Emile Harley was a public servant in the truest sense of the term. He was a man of utmost honesty and integrity who was a friend to all. His home on the corner of Main Street and Marlboro Avenue was always open to anyone who needed his help.
Winchester C. Smith, Jr.
Born August 15, 1896,in Williston, South Carolina
Died June 1, 1972
Married Helen Willis
3 children, Norman M. Smith II, Winchester C. Smith III, and Thomas W. Smith
Farmer at Williston, South Carolina
Member of S.C. House of Representatives, 1930-1942
Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee, 1938-1942
Member, State Budget Commission
Chairman, State Democratic Party, 1946-1952
Delegate to Democratic National Convention
Member, South Carolina Public Service
Life Member, Clemson University
Board of Trustees, 1954-1972
Member, Barnwell County Hospital Board of Trustees
Known locally as "Win" or "Mr. Win," he was a man without pretension. His legislative biography simply states, "Farmer at Williston." His greatest joy was to be able to help the Barnwell County people that he loved and served, and he would often ride the countryside asking what he could do to help.