History of Greenville SC

What was once a Cherokee hunting ground and previously closed to colonists, is now known as the city of Greenville, SC. The city’s history started in 1770 when Indian trader Richard Pearis received about a hundred thousand acres of land from the Cherokees. With the land he was given, Pearis then set-up a plantation near the bank in what is now known as downtown Greenville.

The plantation grew into a great one but saw its imminent end when the Revolutionary war came. Pearis sided with the Tories and Cherokees who have given his land but was later attacked by the Patriots whom they terrorized. As a form of retaliation, these Patriots burned his plantation and took him as a captive in Charleston and never came back. When the Revolution ended, the new state of South Carolina took over the Cherokee’s lands and began distributing it to Patriot soldiers as a reward.

Originally spelled as Greeneville, after Gen Nathaniel Greene, the legislative state of Greenville County was formed in 1786. Thomas Brandon was its first major landowner, claiming what was previously owned by Pearis. Shortly after, Lemuel Alston bought Brandon’s land and more. His total land ownership amassed to about 11,000 acres around the Reedy River.

In 1794, the General Assembly established a city courthouse within Alston’s land. Alston then created a 60-house village, he called Pleasantburg. Since his lots did not sell well, he decided to sell it to Vardry McBee who knew how understood basic community building. During this time, South Carolina’s School, churches, sawmill and rock quarries emerged. Since Greenville was more familiar than Pleasantburg, the name Greenville stayed.

Politics

When it came to politics, Greenville was Unionist. Most of its citizens opposed the theory of nullification by John C. Calhouns. Greenville’s opposing forces was headed by Benjamin Perry, who was both a lawyer and newspaper editor at that time. Perry then included McBee and Joel Poinsett in his cause.

However, in December 1853, this Unionist stronghold experienced several major events which then led to its voting for Secession in 1860. It was also in 1853 when the first Greenville and Columbia Railroad arrived. The railroad opened doors for a more accessible route to the state.

The city also became a refuge camp for residents who were fleeing from federal soldiers during the Civil War. Benjamin Perry was then appointed the provisional governor of the state by President Johnson. After the war, the town experienced adjustments and several changes where new churches and congregations were formed. Primary classes for black children began in 1866.

Two years after, in 1868, a bi-racial delegation held a convention where a new Constitution ending slavery and addressing free public education was formed. From then on, construction of bridges, railroads, and schools began to take place.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Greenville’s population began to soar, as well as the construction of new mills. The town experienced more ups and downs during the Great Depression but still emerged victorious and pushed to get back up.

Today, Greenville is the largest city in the Greenville County, South Carolina and ranked as one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S. by CNN Money.

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3210 Old Buncombe Rd
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