William Haselden Ellerbe

56th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1897 to 1899

Date Born: April 7, 1862

Date Died: June 2, 1899

Place Born: Marion, SC

Place Buried: Marion, SC

Residence: Marion County, SC

Occupation: Planter, Businessman


Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Comptroller General of South Carolina, 1890-1892

June 2, 1899 – Gov. William Haselden Ellerbe died in office


William Haselden Ellerbe was born on April 7, 1862, the son of William Shackelford Ellerbe and Sarah Elizabeth (Haselden) Ellerbe, in Marion, SC. His preparatory education was at the Pine Hill Academy in Marion, SC. He then attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. He then entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, but due to ill health he was forced to leave prior to his graduation.

In 1883, Ellerbe began farming with his father. Ability and perserverence were soon followed with success, and he added to the acreage that he eventually inherited. At the time of his death, he was one of the largest landholders in Marion County.

On June 29, 1887, William Haselden Ellerbe married Henrietta Rogers, daughter of Henry J. Rogers of Brownsville, Marlboro County. They had five known sons and one known daughter.

In 1890, William Haselden Ellerbe jumped into politics and was the candidate of the reformers for the Comptroller General office. He was elected by a small majority, then re-elected in 1892. In 1894, he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor on the reform ticket. In 1896, he ran again, defeating Harrison and Whitman, receiving about a 58,000 majority.

His administration started with great promise, but ended quite differently. His efforts to award offices impartially made him unpopular with the extreme reformers and the extreme conservatives; the people at large, however, believed him to be actuated by the noblest principles, and in spite of unprecedent opposition, he was re-elected in 1898.

The Spanish-American War brought more embarrassment. Applicants for commissions in the army were numerous, and those who failed to receive appointments promptly allied themselves with Ellerbe's opponents.

Though broken by disease (weak lungs) when he first took office, he worked on, sustained by a strong will and the thought that great issues depended upon him personally. He remained at his post until he was removed to his old home, where, though confined to his room, he continued to conduct the business of state.

William Haselden Ellerbe died on June 2, 1899 in Marion, SC. At the memorial services held at the state capitol, political opponents as well as friends bore witness to his nobility of character and to his patriotism. "There never beat in the breast of any man a heart more loyal to the interest of his state," said Sen. Louis Appelt of Clarendon County.


William Haselden Ellerbe was born in Marion, SC. After attending Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, he became both a planter and businessman. He was twice elected Comptroller General of South Carolina. After mounting one unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1894, he went on to win the first gubernatorial race in which a statewide primary election was held. During Ellerbe’s administration, South Carolina raised troops to fight in the Spanish-American War. At the same time, all railroads operating in the state were required to provide separate cars for blacks and whites. Ellerbe was elected to a second term in November 1898 and died in office seven months later.

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