Women Who Made Local History

Posted By Bill Payer on Mar 22, 2023 | 0 comments

We had a full house Tuesday night for our program “Girl Power: Celebrating Charleston Women in History!” The three women highlighted had lots of differences but shared grit, dedication and made an impact on the Lowcountry we live in today.

The stories of the three women, Septima Poinsette Clark, Martha Daniell Logan and Gertrude Sanford Legendre were presented by two of the stalwart women of DIHS, Beth Bush and Lee Ann Bain.

The program drew a full house who heard fascinating details about these three very different women who each helped shape the Lowcountry we know today.

Martha Daniell Logan was the daughter of island namesake Robert Daniell and lived here 300 years ago. She is recognized today as a seminal figure in the development of horticulture in the Colonial era. On her initial publication she didn’t even get a byline…the work was attributed to “done by a lady.” Yet in 2020 she was named “one of the top fifty ground breaking women of science” by the website stacker.com.

No known images of Martha Daniell Logan exist…this is a copy of her signature on a legal document.

For a look at Beth’s slide show presentation on Martha Daniel Logan CLICK HERE

And to view the video of Beth’s presentation on YouTube CLICK HERE

For more on Martha Daniel Logan, check out these links:

History of Early American Landscape Design National Gallery of Art

Martha Daniell Logan DIHS blog


Septima Poinsette Clark had none of Martha Daniell Logan’s advantages of birth but became a seminal figure in both education and civil rights in 20th Century Charleston. She worked tirelessly on behalf of both Black students and Black teachers and became such an important part of the Civil Rights battles of the 50s, 60s and 70s that Martin Luther King called her “the Mother of the Movement.”

She is best known for working with local and national leaders in civil rights organizations to establish Citizenship Schools—first on Johns Island, South Carolina in 1957, and eventually throughout the U.S. South. Citizenship Schools focused on helping African Americans acquire practical literacy, as well as political and economic literacy, so that they could register to vote and access legal rights and resources to improve their communities.

To learn more about Septima Clark check out these links:


Septima Poinsette Clark Biography.com

New Play Honors Legacy of Septima Clark DIHS blog.

To view the video of Lee Ann Bain’s presentation on YouTube CLICK HERE.


Gertrude Sanford Legendre was roughly a contemporary of Septima Clark but almost lived in a different world. A socialite/debutante who gained fame as a big game hunter. During WWII, while her husband was serving in Hawaii, Gertrude joined the Office of Strategic Services….the forerunner of today’s CIA. She was a clerk…not an operational spy, but after the Normandy invasion wangled a transfer to France where she managed to get captured by the Germans when she and a friend wandered too close to the front lines. She eventually escaped, came back to South Carolina and organized a program where American cities…starting with Charleston…sent aid to war torn sister cities in Europe. She also did a 180 degree turn from her big game hunting days and actually was a co-founder of the Coastal Conservation League.

To view the YouTube video of Lee Ann’s presentation on ‘Gertie’ CLICK HERE


Gertrude Legendre – The High Life to Spy Life, and Back Charleston Magazine, September 2017

“Gertrude Sanford Legendre, 97, Socialite Turned Hunter and Prisoner of War” New York Times obituary, March 13, 2000

“The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre” Walter Edgar’s Journal, South Carolina Public Radio

There’s PLENTY more about all three of these amazing women….just Google them.

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