Eureka got its start as Seigler's Station

EUREKA --- Skirting the junction of South Carolina highways 19 and 191, Eureka's one of those communities that's always been a pit stop to somewhere else, except to folks who call it home.

 

Even the story of how the former railroad stop got its name is tied to a stranger who made a misstep on his journey.

As the story goes, a man accidentally stopped in the town, then called Seigler's Station. When told where he was, he sarcastically muttered, "Eureka, I found it."

For the past 20 years, longtime residents such as Edna Storey, 70, have been expecting the bustling life of Aiken or Edgefield County to creep in on them. But not much has changed.

The town is best known for Storey's Grocery, where residents stop for soda and cigarettes and any forgotten grocery items; Eureka Baptist Church; and the Seigler house, where the story began.

The Victorian yellow home on S.C. 191 is the picture of country living, with wide verandas, porch swings and floppy, green ferns.

The home was built by Cecil H. Seigler, a former Aiken County superintendent of education.

He and his wife, Marie Cromer Seigler, became the power couple of the area when they settled along the stretch to Johnston with Cecil Seigler's mother.

The couple married in 1912, but Marie was already a mini-celebrity in her own right as the founder of the Girls' Tomato Club.

She started it in 1910, when she was a teacher and principal of Talatha School, according to the Aiken County Historical Museum. Through the club, she taught more than 3,000 women to grow and can tomatoes.

The Seiglers developed it and the Boys' Corn Club into nationwide programs supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and forerunners of 4-H clubs.

Marie also developed the first home economics curriculum for Aiken County schools, according to the museum.

While the couple's life bloomed in the country, the community took shape around them.

At one point, the town had a four-room schoolhouse for grades 1-11. As a railroad stop, just 10 miles from Aiken, it had a lot of visitors.

The Seigler family also donated land and money in 1892 for the Baptist church just across the street. Each week, they paid rail fare for an Augusta pastor to preach services, the Rev. John Arthur said.

Arthur, who officiated the funerals of both Seiglers in the early 1960s, is the Baptist church's fourth pastor in its long history.

He noted that not everyone is proud to be called a Eurekan today.

"Some say they're from Trenton now because they think Eureka sounds like a hick name," he said.

Storey, who has worked in the 100-year-old grocery since she was 14, said she wouldn't want to know a life any different from seeing her regular boys coming home from construction and cable jobs.

"It's my home; it's all I know," she said. "I can remember when many of these roads were dirt."