James Edwin McTeer (1903-1979) was Beaufort County Sheriff for 37 years. When he was appointed sheriff to fulfill the unexpired term of his father in 1926, he was 22 years old and the youngest sheriff in the United States. His law enforcement career included interactions with murderers, nudists, bootleggers, and root doctors. The plaque on the McTeer Bridge crossing from Port Royal Island to Lady’s Island describes him this way: “legendary lawman, author, spellbinder and raconteur.”
Compiled by Grace Morris Cordial, MLS, SL, CA, Beaufort District Collection Manager, Beaufort County Library. The Beaufort District Collection is the special local history collection and archives unit of the Beaufort County Library (SC).
Original Post: 18 August 2011; Latest update 17 October 2016; All links verified as of 17 October 2016
“Broken Spell: Voodoo’s Heyday is has long passed, but the Gullah tradition continues to bewitch” by David Lauderdale, column in the Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, SC) on January 22, 2016 http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/community/beaufort-news/article56093405.html
“Late hoodoo-practicing Beaufort County sheriff inspires grandson’s novel” by Erin Shaw Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, SC), April 26, 2015 http://www.islandpacket.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article33645984.html
Listen to author Baynard Woods talk about his book Coffin Point on Radio Free Daufuskie at http://www.citytrex.com/rfd/baynard-woods1.php. This interview occurred on December 7, 2010 before his BDC@ The Branches program held a few days later. (approximately 6 minutes)
“That Old Black Magic,” by Tom Poland in Like The Dew: A Journal of Southern Culture and Politics, December 5, 2010, can be read at http://likethedew.com/2010/12/05/that-old-black-magic/.
Security consultant, Sylvia Longmire, used Sheriff McTeer’s practice of ‘white magic’ to illustrate that “Historically criminal organizations throughout the world have taken advantage of local folklore and religious faith in order to get a magical “edge” against their enemies.” Read her analysis of “Mexican Border violence” in 2010 at http://borderviolenceanalysis.typepad.com/mexicos_drug_war/2010/03/mexican-police-ask-spirits-to-guard-them-in-drug-war.html.
One of Sheriff McTeer’s more noteworthy cases involved the Nudist Colony on Cat Island. Read “Baring Witness: America’s First Nudist Colony had a South Carolina address” by Lee Baxandall from Nude & Natural Magazine at http://www.scpronet.com/point/9509/s03.html. Please note: the article contains 3 images depicting the nudist lifestyle. “Last modified 9/12/95.”
“200 Years of History: Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department,” by Neil Baxley, http://www.bcso.net/History/200%20Years%20of%20History.php
“Sheriffs of Beaufort County (SC),” by Neil Baxley, http://www.bcso.net/History/Sheriffs%20of%20Beaufort%20County.php
Come to the Beaufort District Collection to see these items:
We have his obituary from the Beaufort Gazette, December 28, 1979 issue on file in the BDC.
We have a vertical file of materials about him in McTeer, James Edwin, Jr. (1903-1979).
We have a vertical file of materials about the McTeer Family.
The McTeer family donated three scrapbooks that Sheriff McTeer kept to the Beaufort District Collection. Ask to see the preservation photocopies of the scrapbooks in the BDC. [Please note: The amount of information on hoodoo is not extensive].
SC B MCTEER Coffin Point by Baynard Woods (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
SC B MCTEER Fifty years as a Low Country witch doctor by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, STH)
SC B MCTEER High Sheriff, Lowcountry Witch Doctor [DVD] by Fran Hensler (BDC)
SC B MCTEER High Sheriff, Lowcountry Witch Doctor [VHS] by Fran Hensler (BDC, BEA, BLU, STH)
SC B MCTEER High Sheriff of the Low Country by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI)
SC 799 MCT Adventure in the Woods and Waters of the Low Country by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
SC 975.799 MCT Beaufort, Now and Then by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
Check out these materials from the Beaufort County Library:
B MCTEER Coffin Point by Baynard Woods (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
B MCTEER High Sheriff, Lowcountry Witch Doctor [VHS] by Fran Hensler (BDC, BEA, BLU, STH)
B MCTEER High Sheriff of the Low Country by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI)
799 MCT Adventure in the Woods and Waters of the Low Country by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
975.799 MCT Beaufort, Now and Then by James Edwin McTeer, Jr. (BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB)
LEGEND: Materials may be found at the following Beaufort County Library locations: Beaufort District Collection (BDC); Beaufort Branch Library (BEA); Bluffton Branch Library (BLU); Hilton Head Island Branch Library (HHI); Lobeco Branch Library (LOB); and, St. Helena Branch Library (STH).
Note: Current hours and branch locations are posted on the Beaufort County Library’s (SC) website.
Contact the Beaufort District Collection at (843) 255-6468 or e-mail email@example.com for additional information about local history and archives relating to the people, places, and themes of the history, Gullah culture, archaeology, genealogy and natural environment of Beaufort County, Jasper County, and Hampton County in South Carolina.