Editor’s note: We Are Aiken County is a series of articles that will run through Feb. 26. It celebrates people, places and events that shaped Aiken County.
A pioneer in the suffrage movement in the early 20th century campaigned tirelessly for the right for women to vote and established a real estate business that enhanced Aiken’s reputation as a winter resort for the wealthy.
Born in 1883 in Augusta, Georgia, Eulalie Chafee moved to Aiken in 1892. In 1906, she married Julian Salley, Aiken’s major and a prominent lawyer. Salley “appeared headed for the life of a traditional southern lady,” according to the South Carolina Encyclopedia’s website, but a story about a South Carolina woman who lost custody of her children while she was sickly sparked a crusade for women’s rights.
Salley spent a dollar and joined the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League: “the best dollar I ever spent,” Salley is to have said, according to the website.
In 1912, Salley organized the Aiken County Equal Suffrage League and became its first president.
She was “an aggressive and innovative suffrage campaigner, traveling on unpaved county roads to canvass door-to-door, staging a myriad of fundraisers (she once took boxing lessons and performed in a prizefight as a “Gold Dust Twin”), and rode in an airplane with a pilot scattering suffrage pamphlets over the town,” according to the website.
In 1919, Salley became president of the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League. After the United States Congress ratified the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote in 1920, Salley joined in the formation of the South Carolina League of Women Voters, later serving as regional vice president.
For her efforts, South Carolina Governor Robert McNair invited Salley to stand behind him when he finally signed the amendment into law in the state in 1969.
To fund her suffrage work, Salley received a real estate license in 1915, becoming the first woman realtor in South Carolina. Her business catered to Aiken’s Winter Colony, wealthy industrialists and socialites from colder, northern climates who came south to the city to pursue equines and other sports in warmer weather.
“Clients found flowers in full bloom, well-trained servants, and a Salley-owned antique shop from which to furnish spacious ‘cottages,’ with meals awaiting them on their arrival – all dovetailing with her slogan, ‘We do everything but brush your teeth,’” according to the website.
Salley was among the founders of the Aiken Board of Realtors, vice president of the South Carolina Association of Real Estate Boards and, in 1959, was chosen the “First Lady of South Carolina Realtors.”
In 1929, Salley bought Edgewood, the home of Francis Pickens, South Carolina’s governor from 1860 to 1862. She had the house dismantled piece by piece from its location in Edgefield County and reassembled on top of Kalmia Hill in Aiken, where she lived until her death in 1975.
“Salley’s efforts are significant as she was one of the first women actively involved in historic preservation in South Carolina,” according to the National Park Service website.
In the 1980s, the structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was moved again to USC Aiken’s campus and now houses administrative offices.