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Sunday, January 16, 2011

History of Union, SC

Both Union and Union County received their names from the old Union Church that stood a short distance from Monarch Mill. Union Church served both the Presbyterian and Episcopal congregations in the area. The church was erected in 1765 near the present day town of Union, the county seat. Union County was created as a part of the Ninety Six District in 1785. It was part of Pinckney District from 1791 to 1800 and became a separate district when Pinckney was dissolved in 1800. The upper part of the county later went to form Cherokee County in 1897. When the town of Union was first founded, Union was known as Unionville; later it was shortened to Union. The county’s first white settlers came from Virginia in 1749. There was a lot of Scotch-Irish settlement in the area. Union County’s population grew the fastest between 1762 and the start of the Revolutionary War. Settlers built log cabins and cultivated tobacco, flax, corn and wheat. Union was one of the first towns settled in the area and was untouched during the Civil War because the Broad River flooded and turned Sherman’s troops away from the town.

Pinckneyville - When Pinckney District was created in 1791, it comprised the counties of Union, Spartanburg, York, and Chester. Three commissioners appointed by the Legislature selected a place in the northern part of Union county for the new court house town to be established. Pinkneyville is one of the earliest settlements in the South Carolina backcountry. It reflects the spread of justice throughout the state in the early years and the beginnings of representative government beyond the border of Charleston. As early as 1752 it was an important trading post. It is found on the confluence of the Pacolet River and the Broad River. Once they chose Pinckneyville to be the county seat and a court and jail were begun there was a heavy rain storm in May, 1792 which caused the rivers to flood the town. So the commissioners decided to move the location of Pinckneyville to higher place and on the southwest side of the Broad River. It was named after Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and was possibly laid out by a Charleston surveyor with street names that mimicked street names of Charleston. It was envisioned to become an upstate metropolis. A one roomed brick jail was built with 18" thick walls and was 14' x 20'. It was plastered inside and had 2 doors and 2 windows and the doors were double planked and the windows were shuttered with double planked shutters. There was a fireplace on one end and the jail cells were planked walls and the criminals were literally lowered into them from the top. There was a post office by 1795. It was a stage coach stop, about a mile from the Pacolet Ferry. There was a log school house but no church in the town. There was another brick building which may have been the courthouse. The town was abandoned and the countyseat became the town of Union. The Pinckneyville site is very remote today and is not safe to go to alone. There was a mere pile of bricks left of the old jail and nothing else. It looked like it was a party place because of the graffiti and trash.

Rose Hill Plantation - is on the Tyger River, Union, Union County, SC. Located at 2677 Sardis Road off US 176. The illegitimate son of a Charleston merchant, William H. Gist rose from modest beginnings to be elected governor of South Carolina in 185. He also was a reputed duelist. William Henry Gist (August 22, 1807 – September 30, 1874) was a Democrat. Gist was the illegitimate child of merchant Francis Fincher Gist and Mary Boyden. He moved with his father to Union County in 1811 and came under the guardianship of his uncle, Nathaniel Gist, upon the death of his father in 1819. His uncle legally obtained the Gist last name for William Henry and sent him to study law at South Carolina College. He passed the bar and returned to Union and began to build Rose Hill Plantation. Between 1828-1832 a Federalist-style house was built by William H. Gist. It became a cotton plantation employing about 100 slaves. By 1865 it consisted of over 2700 acres. By 1870, it was down to 1350 acres and today, the site is part of the Sumter National Forest in the Northern part of the state and only has 44 acres left. Bricks were imported from Switzerland to construct the three story mansion. Gist won election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1840 as a strong supporter of state rights and was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1844. He served three terms in the state Senate before being elected by the General Assembly as the 68th Governor of South Carolina. William H. Gist was Governor of SC at the time of secession and was called a Fire-Eater. After Abraham Lincoln was elected President, and receiving assurances from the governors of Florida and Mississippi that they would follow South Carolina's lead, Gist called for a secession convention to be held in Columbia on December 17. The convention was moved to Charleston because of a smallpox outbreak in Columbia and Gist was one of the signers of the Ordinance of Secession on December 20. The creation of the South Carolina Executive Council in 1861 provided Gist an opportunity to participate in the state's wartime activities of the Civil War. He was in charge of the Department of Treasury and Finance and later the Department of Construction and Manufactures, but the dissolution of the South Carolina Executive Council in September 1862 ended his involvement in the politics of the state. After the war in 1865, Gist took an oath of allegiance in Greenville and received a pardon from President Andrew Johnson. He remained on his plantation at Rose Hill, which had lost all of its grandeur, and rented out the land to sharecroppers. Gist developed a case of appendicitis and died at Rose Hill on September 30, 1874. His cousin, States Rights Gist (September 3, 1831 — November 30, 1864), was also a lawyer, a militia general in South Carolina, and a Confederate Army general during the War. Gist was born in Union, South Carolina, to Nathaniel Gist and Elizabeth Lewis McDaniel. He graduated from South Carolina College and attended Harvard Law School for a year without graduating, before moving home to Union to practice law. In 1863, Gist married Jane Margaret Adams, whose father was James Hopkins Adams, governor of South Carolina from 1854 until 1856. In 1858, Gist's cousin, William Henry Gist, became governor. Both were active in the secession movement. Gist was shot in the chest while leading his brigade in a charge against Federal fortifications at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864. He died of his wounds soon after at a field hospital in Franklin, Tennessee.

David Johnson Plantation - David Johnson (October 3, 1782 – January 7, 1855) was an antebellum Democrat and Governor of South Carolina from 1846 to 1848. Born in Louisa County, Virginia, Johnson was educated in York County, but moved with his family to Chester District in 1789. He studied law in South Carolina and became a solicitor of the Union District in 1812 as well as being elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Excelling in law, Johnson was made a circuit judge in 1815, a judge of the Court of Appeals in 1824, a presiding judge of the Court of Appeals in 1830 and a chancellor in 1835. The General Assembly elected Johnson as Governor of South Carolina in 1846 for a two-year term. The Mexican–American War occurred during his administration and the state aptly supported the cause. After his term as governor, Johnson returned to the Upstate where he died on January 7, 1855. 1826 – A canal was built around Lockhart Shoals on the Broad River and part of its route went through David Johnson's plantation. The lock-keeper was paid a salary for maintaining the lock, and Johnson was paid this salary although one of his slaves did the work. David Johnson was absent most of the time so he left his son, Edward Coke Johnson, in charge of running the place. It is located on the Broad River, Lockhart, Union County, SC. Original plantation lands were located near Lockhart Shoals on the Broad River.

Hillside Plantation - In 1791 James Hill was given the land by his father. He married in 1806 and he and his wife moved to Union. They lived in a log home. Between 1820-1832 he built his home there. It's an upcountry Federal with central halls on both floors with 2 rooms on each side off the hallways. There is an 1850's addition which includes the dining room, enclosed back porch, rear stairs and a room that became the kitchen. This addition on one side gave it an "L" shape. Hill was a planter and, by 1840, he owned about 60 slaves. By 1860 he owned 3300 acres with 1300 "improved". Hill died in 1854 leaving the plantation to his wife and then, after her death, to his son, George Hill. The sculptured granite gate posts were carved by J.E. Sherman, a convalescing Union soldier left behind just prior to the War. Hillside is located in Carlisle, Union County, SC. Located north of the Town of Carlisle off SC 215. It is a private residence.

Cross Keys Plantation - A post office was established in 1809 at Cross Keys, S.C. In 1812-1814, Barrum Bobo (or Barham Bobo) erected this house at the intersection of the Piedmont Stage Road and the Old Buncombe Road. Mr. Bobo was a prosperous merchant of an influential Union County family. (Barrum Bobo is said to have been a ship's purser. The Cross Keys House is a fine example of a Georgian Colonial in common bond brickwork. The gables of the building contain the cross keys insignia and the dates of the construction. Located on a knoll, the tall house with two full stories plus attic and basement is an area landmark. There is much beautiful carving in wainscoting, molding, and mantel. Gabled roof with identical pairs of end chimneys, five symmetrically spaced unshuttered windows on either side of the double doors which are protected by massive, raised first-story portico. White Tuscan columns at front and engaged columns at rear support portico and triangular pediment. Between each pairs of end chimneys, a date stone is placed beneath the gable. On one of these is carved the date of house's completion (1814), original owner's initials (B.B.), and crossed keys thought to be the insignia of the builder. During the ante-bellum period, it was the center of a properous plantation. Two old milestones indicating distance to Union "12 m" and Columbia "68 m" remain in front of house as evidence of early highway system. On April 30, 1865, during the retreat from Richmond, Virginia, Jefferson Davis passed through Cross Keys, S.C., accompanied by the Confederate cabinet and his military escort of five brigades. Mrs. Mary Whitmire Davis, who owned the Cross Keys House at that time, afterwards related to her descendants the story of President Davis's luncheon at the house. It was privately owned until 2006, when Cross Keys was purchased by the Union County Historical Society.

Fairforest Plantation - is on Fairforest Creek (a branch of the Tyger River), Ninety Six District, Union County. Located southwest of the City of Union where SC 49 crosses over Fairforest Creek. Fairforest or Fletchall's Plantation - The house at Fair Forest was probably built by Colonel Thomas Fletchall, a gentleman farmer. It was located on the south side of Fairforest Creek (a tributary to the Tyger River) on 365 acres. On the north bank of the creek he owned 250 acres where he operated a saw mill and at least two grist mills. Colonel Fletchall was a Loyalist, and on December 9 he was arrested for breaking the Treaty of Ninety Six. The Patriots found him hiding in a large sycamore tree downstream from his mills and arrested him. Colonel Fletchall was released from prison, and upon returning to his plantation he found it looted. His family along with their slaves proceeded to rebuild the place but on October 10 Colonel Fletchall fled to Charleston for the safety of himself and his family. He left with his wife, five children, and fourteen slaves. He never returned to his plantation. Colonel Fletchall and his family and slaves left for Jamaica on December 1. His property was confiscated and sold at auction the same year. Colonel Thomas Brandon, a local hero, purchased most of Fletchall's property. Colonel Brandon died in 1902.

Orange Hall - Goshen Hill, Union County, SC. Original plantation lands were located south of SC 72 off Maybinton Road close to the Newberry County line. In 1774, John Rogers built a house on the property. In the 1820's another John Rogers owned the plantation and began to grow cotton. He also operated a general store on the property for smaller farmers in the area. In the 1860's J.E. Sherman carved a fountain from the granite-lined spring that provided water to the plantation. The spring became known as Jew's Harp Spring because the shape resembled that of a Jew's harp. Sherman was a Union soldier who was convalescing in the area. House was destroyed by a tornado in 1929. Only scattered bricks remain visible today.

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