Out of Office: Janice N. Robinson

Janice Robinson

Janice N. Robinson at home in South Carolina, where she authored her manuscript on the Civil War capture of Columbia, S.C.

The senior vice president and wealth relationship manager at $46.2 billion-asset SouthState Bank in Winter Haven, Fla., wrote a historical manuscript about the burning of Columbia, S.C., in 1865, with plans to publish soon.

I took a lifelong learning class at Furman University [in Greenville, S.C.], and the professor taught Southern history. It was a really interesting class. I’m from the South and grew up in Greenville. I had no clue that Columbia, S.C., burned during the Civil War, which was discussed during the class. So, I thought, “Hmm, this is so interesting. What else can I find out about it?”

[The South Caroliniana Library] has actual diaries and journals written by women who were here during the Civil War. You touch those journals, and you see in their own handwriting their stories and hear how their lives changed from being caregivers, housekeepers, ladies of the mansion—whatever that role might be—to being all of that plus having to pick up all the duties that the men did.

[The women of Columbia] decided to try to hide some of their valuables. They would do things like pull the azalea bushes up, because azaleas have a real narrow, [shallow] root system. So, they would pull up [the azaleas], put valuables under the bushes, replant them and put pine straw around them. You couldn’t tell they had been disturbed.

I [started writing about it] because it was interesting, and then I looked at all the notes that I had and I’m like, “This is a book.” So, that’s how it got started, and it’s pretty much finished other than it’s just sitting there waiting on me to have time to really pay attention to it.
—Tarra Willox