Joshua Hilton, Clifton Mill Superintendent

Story furnished by Clarence Crocker

According to the Federal census of 1880, Joshua Hilton’s parents, arriving from England, settled for a while in the state of New Jersey where their son, Robert Hilton, was born. Migrating to Missouri, their son, Joshua Hilton, was born in 1841. The 1880 Census listed Joshua as a Factory Superintendent and his brother’s (George P. Hilton) obituary published in the Spartanburg Herald on Sunday Dec. 6, 1908 gave Joshua as being the Superintendent of Clifton Mills until his death.

Coming to Glendale sometime in the 1870s, Joshua began to buy land in the mill area. According to the Spartanburg Register of Deeds office, (Deed Book QQ P301, dated Dec. 30, 1879, Book QQ P303, dated March 28, 1880, Book SS P 554, dated July 23, 1880) Joshua bought 126 ½ acres of land in three different tracts just across Lawson Fork on the south side of the Mill. The property was purchased from Hannah and S. M. Bagwell for one thousand, sixty nine dollars. ($1,069.00)

The 1901 survey Plat of the D.E. Converse Company, Glendale, S. C. property shows the Hilton property joining the Company property, running east along the creek bank for some distance. In the 1879 purchase, Joshua gave right of way for a public road. While not identified in the deed, apparently this was for the road which was to become the Glendale/Bethesda Road, now called the Emma Cudd Road. Dexter E. Converse, President of the D.E. Converse Co. was witness to this purchase.

Joshua married Panthea M. Haynes from North Carolina and they became the parents of a daughter named Mabel C. Hilton who died on April 24,1884, having lived only 15months and 17 days as inscribed on family grave marker. Also one son named Harvey H. Hilton was born in February of 1885.

Legend tells us that Joshua had a well dug and built a house upon the hill overlooking the creek below. Displeased with the taste of the well water, he decided to purchase the small track of land with two springs which joined his property on the lower side. Having purchased the land, he had a large foundation laid and a basement built primarily of rock and concrete upon which the house he had first built was rolled.

When the house was finished, it had been expanded to a large three story house with a full size basement, in which Joshua and his family, his brother, Doctor George P. Hilton and boarders lived. The house contained 11 rooms, 2 halls and a stairway. A “dumbwaiter” was used between the basement where Doctor Hilton worked on his medicine formulas and the living quarters. Cabinets where built on the interior basement walls where Dr. Hilton kept medicine formulas he was working on and prepared bottled medicine ready for use. The basement also had a large open fireplace and a small room called the “potato room” where potatoes were stored for curing. 

The 1880 Census shows Madina(?) age 20 and Mary E. Petty age 18 as boarders. Obviously they were employees or seeking employment in the cotton mill which lies across the creek from the home. Mill employees from the south side of the mill walked over a cross-over foot bridge which spanned the waters into the back of the mill.

Indications are that Dexter Converse recruited Joshua Hilton to the area and that he worked at the Glendale plant of D. E. Converse Co. before being transferred to Clifton Mill No.1 a Division of D. E. Converse Co. where he was serving as Superintendent at the time of his death. It had started production in June of 1881. Records show that Joshua had bought 58 ½ acres of land at Hurricane Shoals (Clifton #1) for two hundred, thirty four dollars ($234,00) in 1880.

Joshua Hilton died August 2, 1886 at the age of 45 and was buried in the Clifton Cemetery located on the Old School House road in Clifton No.1. This writer has been unable to find a copy of his obituary. A large 9 or 10 foot white marble monument which bears the symbol of Masonry marks his grave. His name and date of death is inscribed on the front along with the words; “At home with Jesus”. On the right side of the monument the name of his wife, Panthea Hilton Wolling, (obviously she had remarried) born January 31, 1856, died May 1, 1941 is inscribed. On the back side, the name of his brother George P. Hilton is inscribed along with the date of his death. On the right side, the name of their daughter Mable C. Hilton is inscribed along with date of death as noted previously. I have no record of their son’s death.

The Hiltons were a very prominent and influential family in the community. Hilton Hill road which runs uphill in front of the house and bears that name today was named in honor of the Hilton family. Her husband having died, the 1900 census showed Panthea Hilton as head of the house with Harvey Hilton, her son, George P Hilton, her brother in-law and Ella M. Rost, age 29, as boarder. 

The 1910Census showed Panthea as head of house with her mother, Sarah C. Haynes, 84 years of age, the mother of six children and Hillard Brown, a 19 year old male boarder who was a teacher in the Glendale Elementary school. I was unable to find any further records of the family after 1910. 

My appreciation to Mrs. Myrtle Walden Poteat, 77 years of age, whose father bought the Hilton house for their family home when she was in the first grade of Glendale School and was able to tell this writer much of the legend of the Hiltons and the house. Incidentally, after marrying and moving elsewhere, she has returned to the family home (Hilton house) where she lives today. Also to Mr. Ray Price who filled me in on what his mother, who was born in 1911 on Hilton Hill road, had told him how she remembered the Hilton family and place and the legends told of the family.




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