Mr. Jim Brooks has found some very
interesting newspaper advertising relating to the early
Bivingsville mill in his research about Glendale history. The
advertisements are from the Greenville Mountaineer
Newspaper of 1837. One advertisement from April, 1837 is
solicting bricks and brick masons and other workers for constructing
the mill. The second ad from July, 1837 is announcing that the mill is
in operation and now producing yarn. Both ads can be read in detail at 1837 Newspaper Advertisements.
County records show that Dr. Bivings
acquired titles to extensive tracts of land adjacent to and including
the site of Wofford’s Iron Works. He organized a company named the
Bivingsville Cotton Manufacturing Company with the stated purpose of
manufacturing cotton and wool. The owners and investors in the company
were James Bivings, Simpson Bobo and Elias C. Leitner. The original
starting capitol was $100,000 with the privilege of increasing to
$500,000. The company had not been long in operation when a dispute and
a lawsuit arose which ultimately resulted in the departure of Dr.
Bivings from the mill company to which he had given his name with
pride. However, the town continued to be known as Bivingsville until
1878 when it was changed to the present name of Glendale.
In 1847, Bivingsville Mill was listed as one
of the important cotton mills of the state. By this time the mill
was owned by G. and E.C. Leitner. In 1856, the company fell on hard
times financially and was sold in bankruptcy proceedings. The company
and mill was bought by a group of local investors that included Dexter
E. Converse. Converse was named as manager of the mill. He was already
living in the Bivingsville. He had moved into the former home of Dr.
Bivings in February of 1855. The mill was still in operation as it
weathered the financial problems and change of owners.
Period 1860 - 1900
(Textile mill workers - not at
During the Civil War, the mill made cloth
and other products for the Confederacy. This included a quantity of
wooden shoe soles. After the War, Converse, along with his
brother-in-law, Albert Twitchell, became the owners of the mill and the
property. By 1875, 10 years after the War, the mill had 5,000 spindles
and 120 looms. The mill village had 60 houses with 400 residents. It
also had a sawmill, two cotton gins, a machine shop and a carpenter
After the War, many other textile mills were built in the
Upstate. The mill at Glendale flourished and expanded in the 1880’s and
1890’s. It came to have 17,280 spindles and 518 looms. The mill
building itself was enlarged by a three story addition. During this
time, the number of houses in the village for the workers increased to
In 1899, Dexter Converse died after a long association with
the Glendale Mill. He was followed as company president by his
brother-in-law Albert Twitchell. The mill continued to prosper after
the turn of the century. By 1900, the town had a school with 125
students and one teacher. Finding workers for the mill became an
increasing problem around this time and workers were recruited from
further and further away, even from the mountains of North Carolina.
The ancestors of many of Glendale’s long term residents came around
See an analyses of the Census for Bivingsville in 1860 at 1860 Census and the 1900 Census at 1900 Census.
Period 1900- 1945
showing dam across Lawson's Fork Creek. It is not known exactly where
this was located but is thought not to be at Glendale.)
World War I brought increased work for
Glendale and the other textile mills of the Piedmont. The War also
affected some of the young men of the community and a number of them
were in service. As a result of the War, a large training camp was
built in Spartanburg. It was called Camp Wadsworth and was located in
the area that Westgate Mall is today. Building the camp provided work
for many people in Spartanburg, including a number of men from
Glendale. Some of the recruits from Camp Wadsworth eventually came to
the Glendale community to visit with the residents there.
See an analyses of the Glendale Census in 1920 at 1920 Census. See a map for the
1940 census at 1940 Map.
The mill continued on under the same ownership through the
1920’s and 1930’s. The Great Depression hit the Upstate textile
industry hard. Several banks in the county closed. Hundreds of textile
workers throughout the state lost their jobs. Glendale,
like all the other mills, saw hard times. The work was curtailed and
the number of workdays a week was cut way back. Sometimes the mill was
opened two or three days a week. Many of the mills were no longer able
to pay their workers with cash but issued “script”. This “script” could
be spent at the company stores for groceries and other essentials. The
textile industry did not really recover from the effects of the
until World War II.
World War II brought a boom to the textile industry,
including Glendale. The mills ran three shifts to meet the demand for
cloth. Many of Glendale’s young men were affected. Many volunteered for
the various branches of the armed forces and others were drafted. As in
World War I, a new training camp came to the Spartanburg area. This
one, Camp Croft, was very close to Glendale. Building the camp provided
many jobs for the local people. The camp was built in an amazingly
short time and was filled with recruits. A number of these recruits
would eventually marry local girls and some would come back to settle
(Worker in a mill - not
Period 1945 - Present
After the War, a period of change came to
Glendale that is still in process. In 1946, the Converse Company that
had operated the mill since 1856, a period of 80 years, sold it. The
were the J.L. Stifel and Sons of Wheeling West Virginia. The Stifel
Company made major renovations to the mill. They converted the mill
from steam power to electrically powered operations. The company
many of the company houses and tore down about 35 houses that were in
bad condition. At some time in the past, additional houses had been
Present day maps show about 120 houses in the mill village. In
1950’s, the company began to sell the houses to the workers. Over a
period of time, the mill company owned less and less of the village. By
600 employees. It was a big source of employment
However, in 1957, Stifel and Sons sold
the mill to Indian Head Mills. This was the beginning of the end for
textile manufacturing in Glendale. Indian Head Mills stopped
manufacturing in the mill in November of 1961.
All of the mill land and assets were eventualy sold or given
away. Read about this and the deed transfers involved at Sale of Mill Assets.
There were several small attempts to use the
facilities for making textiles. They were all short lived. The glory
days of the Glendale textile operations were gone forever. This same
story was repeated all over the Upstate of South Carolina and indeed
all over the South. In a period of about 25 years, the Upstate textile
industry was destroyed. It was sent overseas to be done by cheap
labor. The loss of the mills not only destroyed the textile industry,
it brought major damage to an entire generation of textile workers.
Many have never recovered. Read about the
passing generations and their connection to the mill.
With the new day, there came new plans as to
what to do with the old mill structure itself. The end of all these
plans came to a terrible end on Sunday, March 21, 2004. On this
day, the mill caught on fire and was completely burned down.
Life Goes On
A view of the shoals, dam and old iron bridge today
These wildflowers bloom not far from the burned ruins of the
mill. (Photo by Jim Cody)
(The above account of the textile
industry at Glendale is based on material from:
A History of Spartanburg
County - by WPA
Glendale - A Pictorial History by M. Hembree and
Spartanburg - Facts, Reminiscences, Folklore by
Mr. Clarence Crocker, a life
Glendale resident and a Supervisor in the mill, has furnished us a
more personal account of the story of Bivingsville and Glendale Mills.
is accompanied by numerous photographs. Click on Mill Story to see this.
Mr. Crocker also furnished a
of how cotton was made into cloth at Glendale. See this at Cloth Making.
This web site has been started as a public service to share
the story of Glendale. The web master and person to contact about
putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney Teaster.
Contact her at:
873-8117. See more information about
Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary