Reason #18 Allendale Is Better Than Where You Live: Last Names Commonality

You shouldn’t be surprised that we are the only Espinosa family in the entire county of Allendale (pop. 10,200). That is, as far as we know, we are the only Espinosas. Is there anyone out there?

And it may not surprise you that there are a good bit of folks with common last names in this community. After all, families tend to stick together in this area, and (as you can see in this interactive tool from Forbes) there is not a lot of migration in or out of the county. There are many old family names here.

But this is what we find fascinating about this area:

Many of the same surnames are common to both white and black families in Allendale.

Brabham, Gooding, Mole, Everett. These are just a few last names of which we know people of both Caucasian and African-American decent. And this doesn’t even include the common surnames such as Smith, Williams, Thomas, or Robinson.

I grew up (in Swansea, SC) with the same situation, except the common last names were Jeffcoat, Mack, and Hutto (again, only a few Espinosas). However, it was not as common for the small town that Joanna grew up in (Great Falls, SC). The main thing I can figure that Swansea and Allendale have in common (compared to Great Falls) is that these towns have historically been farming and plantation communities. So, perhaps the commonality among last names has to do with the history of plantations and slave-ownership (which you have to remember only ended 6-8 generations ago).

Or, to quote a line from the recent production of Salkehatchie Stew (which is made of real stories from this area), “His last name was Bussh, and my last name is Bussh. Daddy said we were cousins. I didn’t understand how that could be, being how he was black and I was white. But Daddy said that we were, in fact, cousins.”

To learn more about race relations in this area, read A Black Guy, a White Guy, and an Hispanic Jew Walk into a Restaurant.

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**image courtesy of leoercole via


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