The Piedmont Historical Society
Local History Records - Old Hammett Place
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- Image of Stone marked in 1567, Found in
Spartanburg County, SC, Its Description, And Interpretation
- "The Ironworks on
Lawson's Fork" by Jim S. Smith with appendices and endnotes
- Article from the March 22, 1936
issue of Greenville News:
Old Hammett Place
- Grave of
James Seay, Revolutionary Soldier is Marked By D.A.R.
W.Y. Dillard, Sr., the last of Union County's Confederate veterans
Testimony of William G. Bryant and Reuben Bryant
Taken by U.S. Congress Joint Select Committee to Inquire Into the
Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States - South
The Autobiography of William T. Harvey.
Three Greenville County articles that missed the
November 2011 Quarterly
The Bechtler Coins and the Rutherford County, NC
[Submitted by Daurice Snow]
Greenville News, Greenville,S.C., Sunday Morning, March 22,
House Built In 1780's Standing In Greer Sector
Old Hammett Place Erected By One Of 13 Emigres From Virginia In '84
FAMILIES SETTLED AREA
BY HENRY HAMMETT
The year 1784 was marked by a veritable influx of settlers, into what
is now Greenville County,but was then a part of the newly opened
Cherokee territory. Most of those who built their log cabin, the
traditional abode of the pioneer, in this section, were from Virginia
and other points northward.
Unlike the inhabitants of the low country, they left no mansions with
ancestral estates. However,there is one house built by one of the
pioneers of 1774 that, though unpretentious, still stands and is in use.
This is the house built by John F. Hammett, who at the age of 23, came
here bringing his young wife, Emelia for the purpose of establishing a
home. He chose to settle beside an old Indian trail now roughly followed
by the old Spartanburg road, on the crest of the first hill west of the
Enoree river. Not so many years later, he built the house that now
stands on the same site. The house, particularly the enormous chimney
made of native field stones mortared with red clay, is clearly visible
from the road.
Across the river, a mile and a half east is the site where Col. Issac
Morgan settled near where the family of a Colonel Hite had been
butchered by Indians a few years previously. This site is still known
locally as "The old Morgan place" but all original structures have long
since been gone.
Both Colonel Morgan and his neighbor across the river were members of
a party of thirteen settlers with their families who came from Culpepper
county, Va. in 1784 and took up claims covering a large part of what is
now Chick Springs township. James M. Richardson, in his very interesting
book, "The History of Greenville County," devotes considerable space to
Colonel Morgan, who, according to the records of the Pendleton land
office recieved 640 acres as a "bounty grant," probably something
corresponding to our modern soldiers' bonus.
Mr. Richardson does not mention the group of thirteen, but other
writers including Col. S. S. Crittenden mention some of the other
members of the party. Incidentally, he refers to Morgan as Jesse instead
of Issac. Many of the names of the families of the group sound familiar
because they have descendants in this section. There were in the group
two families of Greenes, Their heads being brothers, one family each of
Taylors, Morgans, Holtzclaws, Hudsons, Edwardses, Hammetts, McGlothlins,
and two families of Bridwells or Carneys, or two of both. The name of
the thirteenth family is not known for certain, unless there were really
two of these.
Johnny Taylor who lives on the old Buncombe road below where it
crosses the National highway west of Greer, can point out practically
all of the original places of settlement of each of the families.
Incidentally, this road is the original route from Columbia into
Buncombe County,N.C. Mr. Taylor, himself a great-great-grandson of the
pioneer by that name,furnished considerable of the information for this
story, and knows enough about the old settled families to fill a book.
One of the Greene brothers built his cabin on Prince's [or Suber's]
Creek, not far from Morgan's place. Perhaps he realized the danger of
being a pioneer, but one could not think that he expected the stark
tragedy that occured. His home was attacked by a raiding party of
Indians; he and his son were killed; His wife and daughter were taken
captive, carried to a spot on Enoree river, a few hundred yards from
Hammett's home.and there horribly maltreated until they died. A punitive
expedition of troops from Ninty-Six was organized, but what it
accomplished is not known. Jesse Taylor settled his family above Chicks
Springs, but after remaining a year or so became dissatisfied and moved
to Eastern Tennessee where the family became quite prominent, two of the
sons serving successsive terms as govenor of that state. However there
was one son, Thomas, who did not leave because he was head over heels in
love. When Greenville County was founded, he was one of a commission to
select the site of the courthouse or county seat. This commission
considered besides the one selected a site a mile or so west of what is
now Greer, and another near the present Double Springs Baptist church.
In the meantime he had married the girl and so became the founder of the
Taylor family in this section.
Strange as it seems one of the members of the party of thirteen,
McGlothlin, was a mulatto . He built a cabin near where Pleasant Grove
church now is, but what became of him or his family, if any, The writer
does not know. It would seem likely that he was brought along because he
was a skilled wheelwright, blacksmith, or something. The party came by
way of Charlotte and as there was no road other than Indian trails after
they reached Cowpens, They would likely need such skilled assistance
even before they reached their destination.
Five of the thirteen families have descendants that still own parts
of the original claims taken up by their families in 1784. Mr. Fred H.
Hudson, well known Greenville business man, owns a considerable portion
of his great- great-grandfather's claim including the site where that
forebear is buried. His cousins hold most of the rest of the original
claim. The Edwards family owns land off the highway west of Taylors that
was the original claim of their ancestor. Mr. A. G. Taylor, genial
treasurer of Furman University lives on land the Taylors bought for 40
cents an acre in 1784, and the Holtzclaw families living near Brushy
Creek church live on what their forbear paid a like price to obtain. The
Hammetts have a part of their familie's original claim but the site of
the old house has long since passed from their possession. The old
family graveyard back of the house was excepted in the deeds when the
land was transferred, so it, theoretically, at least, still belongs to
them. On a rather rough headstone in the old graveyard, one may plainly
see the deep cut letters that make the words " In memory of John F.
Hammett, Born in Va., Feb 27, 1761, Died Dec. 29 1834. "
Because these families had known each other in Virginia, and had
migrated together, They for a long time made a group more or less
distinct from the many other settlers coming to this section about the
same time. There are three families that were not among the thirteen
that the writer desires to mention because they are unusually
interesting and settled among the thirteen. Two of these were the
McClimon and Bailey families, who were supposed to be Irish Immigrants
in spite of the Scotch sounding name. The heads of these families were
iron puddlers and they entered into partnership and set up operations at
Gibb's shoals above what is now Pelham, around 1795. It seems they found
ore scarce but they found some and smelted with charcoal, puddling their
iron by hand. The third non-member of the group to be mentioned is
George King. He was a Connecticutt Yankee who made and sold or perhaps
only sold clocks. He married the daughter of a customer or prospective
customer and settled down. Mr. Charlie King a descendant now lives near
where the P. & N. railway has a flagstop labeled "Kings" just west of
Greer. Not so long ago at an estate settlement auction sale, there was
an old clock sold for a song that had the legend "sold by Goorge King
[date]". The writer does not remember the exact date tho it was around
1800. I think before.
Among the descendants of these twelve white families, there have been
and now are many prominant citizens of county and city. Some have
entered politics serving in the state legislature. Others have been
prominant in business. Among those who might be mentioned besides those
already named are the Morgans, B. A. Morgan, city attorney,and his
kinsmen the cotton mill executives. The career of Col Henry Hammett, a
grandson of John F., the builder of the old house is well known. He
married the daughter of William Bates, the Yankee cotton spinner,
himself became a pioneer cotton manufacturer, Cotton mill builder, and
railroad builder. Most of the families had at least one son who fought
for the grey in the war between the states. Capt. George Holtzclaw ,
grandson of the migrant of 1784, captained a volunteer company and led
them to the scene of battle. He was a fearless leader, and was
characterized by his habit of getting out in front of his men during the
battle, his hat in one hand, his sword in the other,and shouting "Come
on Boys". This company was organized and drilled on the old muster
ground, near where T. M. Hudson now operates the Silverleaf dairy.
THE OLD HOUSE
To get back to the old house. It is undoubtedly one of the oldest
structures in the county and is conceded to be the only one standing
that was built by the hands of any of the thirteen pioneers of 1784.
It's exact age is unknown. All the older residents with whom the writer
has talked, and who recall their parents or grandparents mentioning it
agree that it was built before 1800. The writer has always been
skeptical as there was no record of a saw mill in this section before
that date and the house is built of sawn lumber. Recently however, he
has learned that Edwards, the one who came with the thirteen, built a
saw mill on Mountain creek west of Taylors in the 1790's. So I hereby
admit to those with whom I have argued, perhaps disrespectfully about
the age of the house that they are probably right. Edwards did not have
a circle saw as is of course now always used but he used a slasher saw
something like an enlarged version of a carpenter's handsaw, and
operating in a similar manner though it was arranged to operate by
One of the most interesting things about the old house is the two
gnarled mulberrys that stand in front. They are not the common native
mulberry and the writer has never seen them except around old settled
places. That they are not native to this climate is quite evident
because each fall they make no preparation for winter, their leaves
remaining green, swinging merrily in the breeze, perhaps thinking they
are still in a sunny land of no frosts until the first killing frost
sears them. The writer distinctly remembers as a child of having read in
a school history book that the inhabitants of South Carolina once
undertook the culture of silk worms on a small scale, and imported some
special mulberrys from Southern France or Italy. I have often wondered
if these trees might not be of the same species as that imported stock,
but have never found out.
The builder of the old house also built and operated a waterpower
grist mill on Brushy creek a mile or so south of the home. Two large
millrocks lie on the site alternately covered and uncovered by the
shifting sands of the creek. One of these rocks is quite peculiar not
appearing at all like those usually used for grinding corn. One of the
older residents of this section told this writer that he had been
informed that such a stone was arranged to run in a wooden trough so as
to be used for custom crushing of berries, crabapples, and other fruits
preparatory to making brandy. The writer has for years intended to
remove these old stones, but just has never gotten started; Now spurred
by renewed interest, he resolves again to do so...