Orangeburg County is highly blessed with an abundance of Black History. Since the formation of our county, it has been shown that many Blacks have made great contributions to this area of South Carolina from that time to the present.

One of our first politicians after the years of slavery in Orangeburg County was Marshall Jones. He was born in 1837 between St. Matthews and Fort Motte. Jones was the son of Charles and Phoebe Jones, who were slaves at that time.

Marshall served as a commissioner for Orangeburg County starting in 1880 and was re-elected again in 1882. He then took on another political position serving in the House of Representatives with the South Carolina state legislature from 1886-88.

He was married to Margaret Frederick and in the 1880 census, they had a total of nine children. They were Julia, Major, Mariah, Charles, Rachel, Marshall, Christian, Fred and Margaret.

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In the early years of the Reconstruction era, Jones was a farmer in the Limestone community. He gradually became interested in the politics of our county by becoming involved with the Radical Republican Party in Orangeburg.

The Orangeburg News reported on July 25, 1874, “Mass Meeting — Mr. Editor: Under the call published a few days since quite a number of gentlemen from various parts of the County assembled at Saint Stephens Camp ground Orange Township on Saturday 11th inst., and organized, after considerable skirmishing by electing Mr. V.D. Bowman as chairman and G.V. Cullar as Secretary.

Marshall Jones and wife Margaret.

“Upon motion of Mr. J.J. Mitchell, the chairman appointed a Committee of five speakers for the occasion. The following gentlemen were appointed upon that committee: Messrs. James J. Mitchell, J.C. Moore, W.N. Mount, Marshall Jones and Alex Dantzler.”

This was Jones’ first known appointment as to him becoming involved in the political process of Orangeburg County. It is not known what inspired his interest in serving the people.

Then, on Oct. 8, 1874, the Orangeburg Times reported, “Radical Confusion — The Orangeburg precinct Republican meeting for the purpose of electing delegates to the County Convention, took place here on Tuesday; but did not prove very harmonious in its operation. McKinlay was made temporary chairman, and upon the election for a permanent chairman, Byas was declared elected.

“To this a large proportion if not half of these present, dissented, and claiming the gag law was practiced upon them; withdrew and organized another meeting in the School house by the election of John Thompson chairman, and Wm. Brown and John Dixon secretaries.

“The other meeting elected J.C. Moss, T.K. Sasportas, Marshall Jones, Benj. Byas, F.R. McKinlay, R. Turner, Isaac Jones, George Boliver, Sandy McMichael and R. Adams.”

The Orangeburg News and Times then printed on April 1, 1876, “Precinct Meeting — The Republicans of this Precinct met on Thursday last for the purpose of electing ten delegates to the County Convention which meets today.

“The meeting was harmonious throughout and elected the following delegates. Marshall Jones, J.P. Mays, D.A. Straker, T.K. Sasportas, W.M. Mount, A.S. Hibbler, H.H. Haynes, Lucius Bellinger, Peter Walker and Jas. Adams.”

Then, on July 1, 1876, the Orangeburg News and Times reported that “Marshall Jones also served on ‘the Barbecue and Fourth of July Celebration Committee as an Assistant Marshal.’ At that point, he became more involved into the political dealings of the County.”

On Aug. 26, 1876, the Orangeburg News and Times printed, “A meeting of the Citizens of Caw Caw, Orange Precinct, was held on Thursday 24th inst. A club was organized to be known as the Hayes and Wheeler Campaign Club, of Mill Branch, with the election of the following officers: Marshall Jones, President and T. K. Sasportas, Vice-President.”

The Orangeburg Times then reported on Oct. 26, 1878, “Notwithstanding the small number present there was considerable satisfaction with the cut and dried proceedings.

“The representatives of a large constituency withdrew even after being elected delegates.

“Marshall Jones, who is regarded as the strongest man on Caw Caw Swamp, declined to serve, and the most intelligent among the colored men refused to give countenance to such proceedings.

“Radicalism in Orangeburg is on its last legs and a united Democracy will finish the business on the 4th November next.”

Special Note: The fall of “Reconstruction” in 1876 turned the South Carolina government back over to the whites. It ended the rule of the state by the Black majority. Here in Orangeburg, many of the Blacks realigned themselves with the Democratic Party so as to take part in the decision-making in our county and state.

Jones Chapel Baptist Church.

Marshall Jones was a former Radical Republican. By 1878, he aligned with the Democratic Party that had taken South Carolina under its control.

Then, on Sept.r 3, 1880, the Orangeburg Times reported, “Marshall Jones is a colored man living near Caw-Caw Swamp. He is not untried in office. He has for many years held the position of School Trustee, and has discharged the duties of the office with ability, fairness and satisfaction to all. He has the sense to see the blind folly of the followers of the Radical ring masters, and the independence to think and act for himself.”

In the election of 1880, Jones placed his name on the ballot of Orangeburg to become a county commissioner. In that election, he won the opportunity to serve the people by earning a total of 3,599 votes.

Then, on Sept. 28, 1882, The T&D printed, “The Difference— The Orangeburg Democratic Convention last Thursday adhered to be accustomed practice of nominating two colored men on the County ticket. Marshall Jones has been re-nominated for County Commissioner, and B.G. Frederick for the Legislature.”

On Oct. 5, 1882, The T&D printed, “Marshall Jones, the colored nominee for the County Commissioner, has been tried and found equal to the occasion in every emergency.

“He is a true and faithful colored man and his re-nomination is the result of his faithful discharge of his duties.

“He was re-elected in 1882 as a County Commissioner for Orangeburg and was described as, ‘one of the best colored men in the State.'”

On Oct. 7, 1886, The T&D printed, “The Second Primary — The Democratic Executive Committee met last Thursday and declared the results of the second primary election in this County.

“The result shows that Marshall Jones, colored, was nominated for the Legislature, and the old board of County Commissioners, viz. Messrs. A.D. Fair, J.F. North and London Dickson, colored, had been re-elected.

Today we acknowledge the organizing of a club known as the, “All For One and One For All Motorcycle Club.” The group was formed in 2022 so as to help the people within our community who are in need of all kinds of support.

“Marshall Jones, the colored nominee for the Legislature, is a most-worthy colored man, and there are few of his race who enjoy so much of the confidence and respect of both races. He has been prominently identified with the Democratic party from the beginning, and has served one term as a member of the board of County Commissioners of this County with satisfaction to all classes.

“By his industry and attention to business he has accumulated considerable property, and enjoys the confidence and respect of his neighbors.”

The T&D then printed on Dec. 2, 1886, “Representative Marshall Jones, the colored Representative on the ticket, is well and favorably known in this county. He is a man far above the average of race in intelligence and general information.

“In 1882, he was elected one of the County Commissioners on the regular Democratic ticket and discharged the duties of his office with fidelity and entire satisfaction to all classes.

“He has been a staunch Democrat from the beginning and has never wavered in his politics.

“He has never depended upon politics for a living, as unfortunately most of his race are inclined to do, but has been an industrious and thrifty farmer. He has labored faithfully among his race for the cause of Democracy, and has accomplished much good.

“By industry and economy, he has accumulated considerable property, including much valuable real estate and is independent. He is very respectful and polite in his intercourse with all classes, and enjoys the esteem and confidence of both races in this county. His popularity may best be judged from the fact that he received the nomination in the recent primary over five opponents.

“He will undoubtedly win the respect of all with whom he comes in contact in the next House of Representatives, and will discharge with honesty and all the ability he possesses every duty committed to him.”

In November 1887, Jones was selected to be a member of the Committee on Public Buildings.

The T&D reported on Aug. 15, 1888, that, “Marshall Jones— Representative Jones, the present colored incumbent, promised to do the best in his power. He wished his past record to bear testimony to his work. Dr. J.C. Holman challenged his work, by asking him if he did not vote on a certain bill against the majority of his delegation.

“By reference to the journal of the House, Jones proved that he did vote with the whites of his delegation on the occasion.”

After losing his re-election to the House of Representatives in the 1888 election, Jones returned to a life of farming in our community. He continued this process until he gradually became ill and was not able to work as he normally did.

Jones was always a person who cared about the community in which he lived. In the year of 1896, he decided to donate some land for the building of a church for the community.

That year, under the leadership of the Rev. S.J. Murph and the Rev. M. Thompson, a small group of faithful worshippers wanting the sanctity of the baptism met to form the beginning of a church.

Not long after it was organized, the first wooden structure was built on the property. For his contributions, the organization decided to name the church, the Jones Chapel Baptist Church.

Then, on Aug. 28, 1915, The T&D printed an article on the death of Marshall Jones.

“Death of Marshall Jones — Prominent Colored Farmer Died After Long Illness — Marshall Jones, Sr., of the Limestone section of this county died at his home last week at the age of seventy-six years. He was well known throughout the county and was highly esteemed by all who knew him.

“Marshall was quite prominent during ‘Reconstruction.’ Early after the war he allied himself with the Democratic party and remained a member until the time of his death. He served four years as county commissioner of Orangeburg County and was two years a member of the legislature of this state. He was faithful in every relation of life and trusted by both races.

“By honesty and industry, he had accumulated considerable property and at the time of his death owned more than eight hundred acres of land in the Limestone section. He had been in feeble health for several years before his death and was unable to do much active work, but he was frequently on our streets.

“He was a good man and citizen and his death is regretted by many of all classes.

“The death certificate listed his age as 78 and being born in 1837. He was a retired farmer.

“The certificate also stated that, ‘No Doctor lately.’

“He was buried at the Mt. Calvary Church cemetery on the North Road. The Undertaker was A.E. Blythewood.”

On Dec. 23, 1915, The T&D printed “a notice on the property of Marshall Jones.

“Executors’ Sale of Personal Property — Notice is hereby given that pursuant to an order of the Probate Court, in and for the County of Orangeburg, in said State, the undersigned, as executors, will sell on Thursday, the 6th day of January 1916, at the residence of the late Marshall Jones, in Limestone Township, Orangeburg County, at public auction, to the highest bidder, for cash, all the personal property belonging to the estate of the said Marshall Jones, deceased, consisting in part of one single buggy, one one-horse wagon, one two-horse wagon, hog, corn, fodder, peas, and all household and kitchen furniture belonging to his estate, and also all farming implements.

“Sale will begin at 11 o’clock a.m. of that day. Marshall Jones, Julia Paulling Executors of the Will of Marshall Jones, deceased.”

The life of Marshall Jones was considered to be one of the great stories of Black accomplishments of Orangeburg County during the early years after slavery. He started in politics as a Republican and then became a Democrat as life changed for Blacks in our county and state.

During his time as a politician for our county and state, Jones proved greatly that his works as a commissioner and a state legislator were conducted for the people that he represented.

Marshall Jones was an outstanding servant and citizen for our County of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and all of the records surrounding his life reflect the kind of person that he was.

And for that, we give him thanks.

Richard Reid is president of the Orangeburg Historical and Genealogical Society. His mission is researching Orangeburg history, with a particular emphasis on the role of African Americans in that history.

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