Towns vs. Gowns

Alexia Jones Helsley, author of Wicked Columbia, describes misbehavior by South Carolina College students more than 150 years ago.


Raw video interviews with Alexia posted at WIS-TV:

  1. The story of the shooting of N.G. Gonzales and acquittal of James Tillman
  2. "Towns vs. Gowns," the misbehavior by South Carolina College students more than 150 years ago

Columbia - A HistoryNow Available

Columbia - A History

Columbia sits on hills overlooking the Congaree, Saluda and Broad rivers. The name evokes sanctuary and the American spirit. Its central location in the state makes it the meeting place of the upstate and the lowcountry. The All-American city sprang from wilderness, frame buildings and unpaved sgreets and valiantly responded to the challenges of change. The city was created by the legislature to be the capital and reflects the "ambitions and fortunes" of South Carolina. Columbia is a diverse city that serves as an educational incubator, a magnet for immigrants, a military center and a place to vcelebrate the arts.

Wicked Edisto Wicked Edisto

For many, Edisto is a little slice of heaven - live oaks festooned with Spanish moss, winding waterways and crashing surf. Yet the waterways were pathways for privateers, smugglers and gunboats.

Historian Alexia Hones Helsley recounts lost lives, early widows, dashed dreams, unseen secrets - the dark side of Eden.


Wicked ColumbiaWicked Columbia

The Capital of Southern Hospitality has a shady side too.

Touted as one of America’s most livable cities, Columbia has a history of independence and triumph. But that history also has a darker side, one that isn't told quite as often. The capital city's past is filled with salacious tales of debauchery, including a notorious pick pocket bold enough to victimize a mayor and a tradition of dueling that ruined lives over petty insults. From triple hangings at Potter's Field to the lure of ladies of the evening, Columbia has a history as famously hot as its weather. Join author and historian Alexia Helsley as she examines the devilish details of the Soda City.

Listen to the podcast of her interview with POLICE magazine where she tells the editor about a deadly duel over a piece of trout, prostitution taxis from Fort Jackson, and the murder of the county coroner by a former officer.


Governor's Archives AwardAlexia Jones Helsley receives the Governor's Archives Award For Outstanding Service in Promoting the Wider Use of South Carolina's Documentary Heritage

This has extended beyond Ms. Helsley's early responsibilities for the SC Department of Archives and History's reference room and later as Director of Public Programs and of Education, to include wide ranging teaching, speaking and publication on South Carolina history, genealogy and research practices. Her most recent publication is a volume on Beaufort County (History Press, 2005) and she has been a frequent contributor to Sandlapper, County Focus, and other periodicals over many years. Ms. Helsley is a contributor to the South Carolina Encyclopedia (USC Press, late 2006) and the Antislavery Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2006).

Even more than these very notable activities and accomplishments, "Ms. Helsley is…a frequent national and state speaker for genealogical, historical, lineages, educational and civic organizations…During the past three years Alexia has developed and hosted an eight part genealogical series (Branches) on SC ETV. This series airs frequently and focuses on the documentary heritage of SC and how South Carolina's valuable records can be used for research...Her instruction has opened a new path of leisure pursuit for many — genealogical research. Alexia is a dedicated archivist…She has served as the president of the South Carolina Archival Association and at present, is setting up an archives for USC Aiken."

Author Sees Beaufort as a Study in Contrasts in Newspaper Interview

Alexia Jones Helsley has a wide variety of experience in history, with 15 publications to her credit. Most recently, she hosted a series with SCETV titled: "Branches: Basic Sources for South Carolina Genealogy." It began airing in March and lasted through April. Her resumé is steeped in South Carolina history, including many facets of the slavery and the Civil War.

She is a member of the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society (charter member and vice-president), National Genealogical Society, Joseph McDowell Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Society of American Archivists (Chair, Reference, Access and Outreach Division 1981-1983), South Carolina Archival Association (President, 2005), South Carolina Council for the Social Studies and South Carolina Historical Association.