The Evacuation of  Charleston
What happened in the days leading up to the surrender of Charleston, and the death of Lizzie Skipper

The Burning of Columbia
When the capital of South Carolina fell to Sherman, southern fears were realized

The Suders of Charleston
William Henry Suder was transporting soldiers to safety when his engine exploded days before the end of the Civil War

The Orphan House of Charleston
When Willie and John were left without parents in the devastated southern city at the end of the war, they became inmates of the famous institution

The City In Ruins
Charleston was photographed by the Union Navy in April 1865, creating an awesome record of a city in ruins

Orphan House
Inmates (Part 2)

Agnes K. Irving was hired in 1844 to introduce higher education to the ciriculum. It was at first fought by existing staff. These were orphans, inmates who were not like other citizens. They needed to be reminded of they low place in society. But Irving prevailed, and later would become principal of the orphanage, replacing matrons and stewards with superintendents.

“The children were educated thoroughly, the greatest care being taken for their complete understanding of the subjects studied until they reached the limit of studies prescribed by the institution,” wrote Suder. “Upon reaching that limit or upon someone being desirous of adopting them, the inmates were allowed to leave the institution.”

By 1870, William’s younger brother, John, appears to have been adopted - or as the Registry of Boys recorded it - was indentured to M. H. West, who took John to Columbia. William completed his education at sixteen and arranged a job in the city, but it didn’t last long. He couldn’t shake the need to find his brother to be sure he was doing well.

“Having made my decision, I threw all my inward feelings to the wind and kept my purpose concealed - to work my way up-country,” recalled Suder. “It was on a mid-summer night in 1877 that I took my leave. Stealing quietly from the house, I took a course directly for the railroad yard [behind the Citadel a block northeast].”

William walked the tracks to Summerville, where he met an engineer who remembered his father. Suder hitched a train ride to Columbia where he was introduced to his father’s older sister, Mary. Not far from here, William found his brother John.

Later John moved to Connecticut where he stayed and raised a family, while William married his wife in Dutch Fork just outside Columbia, and moved to Sumter.

Jump to Page 1 | 2


The gate to the Charleston Orphan House in April 1865 after the surrender of the city to Union forces. The inmates were evacuated to Columbia years earlier. Damage to the building can be seen in the broken windows and damaged lamps on the wall. A year later William Hugh and John Henry would enter these gates and be admitted to the institution.

In the front is a statue of William Pitt which grateful citizens erected when the “stamp Act” was repealed. And in the tower hung a 6,350 pound bell cast in 1858 in West Troy, NY. Atop the tower was a 14 foot statue of Charity guarding a child. When the building was demolished in 1952, the bell and the statue of Charity fell to the ground from the five story perch.

The remaining pieces of Charity were reclaimed for the Charleston Museum, and the bell now sits in front of the current Youth Development Center - the descendent of the Orphan House.  The lot was used to build a Sears department store, which later relocated to a suburb 15 miles away.



© Bill Draper. All Rights Reserved.