Public speakers and newspapers began,
during the 1930's, to call Spartanburg "The Old Iron District"- for the
first iron works in the State were erected in it, on Lawson's Fork, in
1773; and forges and small furnaces were operated at
several places in it, during the years immediately following the
Revolution. On branches of Tyger River, Michael Miller, Samuel
Nesbitt, William and Solliman Hill, and the Galbraiths had
forges. William and Sanford Smith had a forge on Dutchman 5
Creek, and were famed gunsmiths. William Clark and William Poole
operated on branches of the Pacolet River. But the organization of two
strong companies, in the early
1830's, established the preeminence of Spartanburg in iron production.
In 1856 Spartanburg had four of the eight important
furnaces in the State.
Iron ores, limestone, forests, and water
power were the essentials of iron production; and all of these occurred
close together in that section of the county which justified calling it
"The Old Iron District." As a matter of fact, York was, almost
equally with Spartanburg, entitled. to the appellation. The heart
of the iron beds lay within the area on each side of
Broad River between the North Carolina line and Smith's Ford.
Within the iron district lay a part of Union County, practically
all of Cherokee, a small strip of the present-day Spartanburg, and
a wide strip of York. The ores were of several varieties. In the same
area were quantities of limestone for fluxing, quartz rocks and beds
of fire clay for furnace-building, as well as extensive forests to
furnish charcoal; and all these in combination furnished a basis for
a great industry. Added to these advantages was the situation on the
Broad River and its tributaries, which supplied unlimited water power
for operating machinery, and supplied a means for transporting the
Magnetic and specular ores in inexhaustible quantities were
found on the west slope of Kings Mountain, extending into York, Union,
and Spartanburg. The magnetic ore was
commonly called "gray" ore, and made the best iron for bar iron
or castings; the hematite ore was commonly called "brown" ore, and,
although somewhat inferior in quality, was more abundant and
cheaper. It was made usually into pig iron. The ore was not
mined, but was
dug from the surface.
In 1773 Joseph Buffington, iron master,
erected a bloomery here on on Lawson's Fork because he found
water power, iron ore, and abundant forest lands -all necessary
to iron production. He also met with encouragement from the
inhabitants, who were glad to be able to buy pots and pans and farm
at home, and equally glad to find a cash market for their wood. Almost
every farmer had a pit for burning charcoal to sell at the iron works.
The lands Buffington bought and leased for his plant lay in the region
claimed by North and South Carolina
before the running of the boundary line in 1772, and he had much
trouble about his titles, for William Wofford had established his
claim to the iron works tract on the basis of North Carolina grants.
Buffington apparently operated with borrowed capital, and soon lost
control of the iron works, which became known as Wofford's Iron Works,
and kept that name in popular speech until burned by Bloody Bill
during the Revolutionary War in November 1781. After that it was for
a time called the "old iron works."
In 1776 Buffington borrowed more than 6,000 pounds from the State to
complete his plant. William Henry Drayton
and many local patriots of influence endorsed his request for this
loan, because they knew that iron goods were necessary to the conduct
of war. It is noteworthy that, at this and other iron works
built later in Spartan District, weapons and ammunition were
manufactured for use in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the
Mexican War, and the War Between the States.
In 1778 William Wofford sold a three-fourths
interest in the iron works built by Buffington to Simon and John
Berwick and Charles Elliott of Charles Town, and for a brief time
the name "Berwick's Iron Works" was used. The record of when the
works were rebuilt and how Buffington regained control of the plant
has not been found, but in 1785 an act of the legislature ordered the
sale of Buffington's Iron Works, to satisfy the unpaid debt on them.
Possibly at this sale William Poole acquired the works, for there can
be little doubt that this same site (which is today Glendale) was that
of Poole's Iron Works.
The iron industry continued on at Glendale even after the coming
of the textile mill. It did not end until after the Civil War. A large
cupola furnace at Glendale was used during the War to make bowie
swords, shot, shells tools and all sorts of special equipment. Other
industry plants in the Upcountry were also involved in making supplies
for the Confederate war effort. At the end of the War, iron making was
discontinued at Glendale. This important industry had served the
for over 90 years and through two major wars.
Today, the iron industry and its contribution to the state of South
Carolina is almost forgotten.
(Above from WPA “A History
of Spartanburg County” )
New Information on the
We are pleased to make
available some new information about the Iron Works. This article is
based on detailed and extensive research by the author, Jim
S. Brooks. He was assisted in preparing the article by his daughter,
Jim was born in Spartanburg County, SC, some 70 years ago, and
presently lives in Roebuck, SC.
Before retirement, Jim was a lawyer in general practice with an
emphasis on real estate.
Jim and Christina have a family connection to the iron industry at what
is now Glendale. Jim’s great-great-great-great uncle-John Brooks-
operated the cupola furnace there during the Civil War. The iron
produced was used by the Confederacy for war materials. (See above.)
This family connection to the iron industry at Glendale, spurred Jim’s
interest in the Iron Works. For over 20 or 30 years he has saved
information that he ran across about the iron industry along Lawson’s
Fork. He used some of the skills that he acquired in researching real
estate records to uncover previously unknown information about the Iron
Works. Christina had previous experience as an editor and she assisted
in organizing and editing the final article.
They have produced an article that will be enlightening to anyone with
an interest in the iron industry at Glendale. Click on this link to
read more The Iron Works on Lawson's Fork.
Jim's work also discusses a litle known fact about the area of the
Ironworks. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, WilliamWofford
built a fort there that was used as protection against the Cherokee
Indians. Read the details about this at Wofford's
(Click on cover for larger view
has a new book that gives a fresh insight about the importance of the
Works and the atmosphere around it during the Revolutionary War. The
is "Spirit Up the People - Four Days to the Cowpens". This book details
events of the battle and the days leading up to it. The Iron Works
prominent part in the book. Col. William Washington and 80 of his
American cavalrymen were at the Iron Works the day before the battle
having their horses reshod. With the approach of Tarleton and the
British army, Washington and his men had to flee to rejoin Morgan and
One of the main characters of the book lives closeby the Iron Works.
Her name is Mary Corn and her grandfather Johnathan Corn is a
and works at the Iron Works. When Washington and his men had to leave
suddenly to join Morgan, he asked Johnathan to
go with him to finish shoeing the horses. Johnathan
took Mary with him to operate the bellows for his forge. Mary and Johnathan
wind up being eye witnesses to the Battle of Cowpens.
More information about the book, including sample pages and ordering
details can be found on the Junior History Press web site at http://juniorhistory.com
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:
or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See
more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.