More Glendale Mill Superintendents

Story furnished by Clarence Crocker

Since writing the story on the Glendale Mill Superintendents some time ago, I have run across records which reminded me of two others which I knew about but had forgotten. Both were before my time but I am well acquainted with some of the children of both families. 

Mr. John E. Shea

Records show that John E. Shea started as Superintendent of the Glendale mill about 1875. An article appearing in the State Paper November 4, 1895, stated that John E. Shea was Superintendent of D.E. Converse Company Mills at Glendale, Clifton No. 1 and Clifton No. 3. He took the Superintendent’s job at Clifton No. 1 when it went into production in 1881 while remaining at Glendale Mills. Silas Smith was serving as Assistant Superintendent of the Glendale Mills at the time. Construction of Clifton Mill No. 3 began in 1895 with John Shea having been named Superintendent. First known as the Liondale Mill, production began in 1896. It was at this time that John left his position at the Glendale Mill and Silas G. Smith, who had been serving as Spinning Room Overseer and Assistant Superintendent, was promoted to Superintendent of the Glendale plant. 

The Liondale plant was built down on the banks of the Pacolet River from which it got energy. During the flood of 1903, about half or more of the mill was washed away along with many homes and the loss of many lives. The mill was immediately rebuilt upon the hill above the water way, where the building stands today and the village and mill was named, “Converse Mill” after its founder, Dexter E. Converse. John’s obituary stated that he had been retired about 18 years, having served as Superintendent of the mills some 40 years.

According to his obituary published in the Spartanburg Herald Saturday morning September 16, 1933, he was the son of the late Daniel and Katherine Shea, natives of County Kerry, Ireland. The 1900 Federal census listed him at 41 years of age, having been born in New Hampshire in February, 1859. He had been married 12 years to Mary Taylor Shea, 29 years of age. She was born in England in June of 1870. They were the parents of three children; George A., born in September of 1890 in New Hampshire, E. Sara, born in October of 1897 in South Carolina and one unnamed child had died. They were registered in the Spartanburg Township. The 1920 census shows John along with his wife, son George and daughter in-law, Carrie Lou along with Mrs. Sara M. Taylor, 79, mother in-law, living in the Spartanburg District. John was listed as Superintendent of the Cotton Mills in both instances.

 John, who was widely known in Spartanburg County, was considered a respectable, honest and most capable business man. Deed records show that he bought,owned and sold considerable real-estate in the county. When the new Glendale Baptist Church building was built in 1910, Mr. Shea donated a fine pulpit furniture set consisting of a pulpit, two high back, leather padded chairs and a communion table. Some pieces are being used in the church today.(2011) When the 1910 building was replaced in 1958, John’s son George Shea, made a substantial donation to the building fund. The large Shea farm was located about 3 miles north of our home in the Zion Hill area. Knowing one another all their lives, George and my father were good friends and George would stop by our house occasionally for a short chat with dad on his way home.

The obituary stated that John E. Shea had died early Friday morning September 15, 1933 in a Greenville hospital following three weeks of illness. At the time of John’s death, his home was located at 242 Mills Avenue, Spartanburg, S. C. I have no records indicating that the Shea family ever lived at Glendale. Funeral services were held on Sunday September 17, 1933 in the chapel of the Floyd Mortuary on North Church Street in Spartanburg. The Rev. A. R. Mitchell and Dr. Henry Wade DuBose, officiated. Interment followed in the Oakwood Cemetery in Spartanburg. Active pallbearers were; Charles Lindsey, Marshall Stone, Jervy DuPre, Arthur Tinsley, Ernest Stallworth, Guy Vaughan, R.F. Bagwell and Mack Fine.(this writer’s first cousin) Mr. Shea was survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Taylor Shea; a son, George A. Shea; a granddaughter, Sara Ann Shea and a sister, Mrs. Thomas F. Mulvanity of Washington, D. C. 

The obituary of Mrs. Mary Taylor Shea published in the Spartanburg Herald on Tuesday October 14, 1941, stated that she had died at about 5:40 Monday morning October 13, 1941 in her home at 242 Mills Avenue. She was 72 years of age, the widow of John Shea and a native of Rochester, England. She had been a resident of Spartanburg 53 years.

Funeral services were held at the Church of Advent, Tuesday October 14, 1941. Dr. W.H. K. Pendleton and the Rev. W. S. Lea officiated. Active pallbearers were; A.E. Tinsley, Jervy D. DuPre, I. B. Magness, Guy Vaughan Sr., Harold Murph, Charles M. Lindsey, Ernest Stallworth and Rubin W. Porter. Place of interment was not given. Obviously, she was buried alongside of her husband in Oakwood Cemetery. Survivors were; son, George A. Shea; granddaughter, Sara Anne Shea; one brother, A. N. Taylor of Montclair, N. J. and one sister, Mrs. Carl B. Carnes of Edmonton, Canada.

Mr. Silas Gaines Smith Sr.

The obituary of Silas G. Smith published in the Spartanburg Herald on January 29, 1929, stated that he was born and lived in Greenville County near Fork Shoals, before coming to Glendale in the early 1890s. A Family Bible record shows that he was born September 22, 1852. The 1860 Census of Greenville County, Fork Shoals Division, shows Benjamin Smith, 28 years old and Rosanna Smith, 26 years old, to be the parents of four children; Silas 8, Frances 6, Lucinda 4 and Ann, 4 months old.


 Silas married Miss Margaret Williams, born October 12, 1854, in Fork Shoals, S. C. Margaret was the daughter of Sam and Mary Lane Williams of Abbeville, S. C. They became the parents of thirteen children. The following names, birth, marriages and death were copied from the family Bible. Ida, born August 23, 1874, married E. F. Brown. Mack J., born March 14, 1875, married Ellen Morris. Ben W., born August 16, 1877, married Jonnie Taylor. Sidney, born January 20, 1879, married Mollie LeMaster. Anna, born October 5, 1880, married K. D. Butler. Silas W. born April 4, 1882, married Willie Thomas. James P., born August 21, 1883, married Elma Coggins. Infant, born and died March 18, 1885. Maggie May, born May 3, 1887, died September 9, 1888. Harry, born February 22, 1889, married Callie McCombs. Essie, born June 25, 1891. Wilton, born October 21, 1893, married Josephine Fernandos. Luther, born September 18, 1895, married Connie Thackson. 

According to his obituary, Silas had worked in the Mills at Enoree and Clifton, S. C. before coming to Glendale. The Fiber & Fabric, of Boston, Mass., a record of Americas Textile Mills, stated in its May 25, 1895 edition that Silas came to Glendale as Overseer of the spinning department in the D.E. Converse Co, Mills and had been promoted to Assistant Superintendent, serving under John E. Shea who was Superintendent of the Glendale plant along with the Clifton plants #1 and #3, a division of D.E. Converse Co of Glendale. Silas was promoted to Superintendent shortly after John Shea was moved to the Clifton plants only. Silas held that position for more than twenty years. 

The 1880 Federal census showed Silas G. 27, his wife Margaret 25, Ida 5, Mack 4, Benjamin 2 and Sidney living in Greenville County, Oakland division. Silas was listed as a farmer. Unfortunately the 1890 Census was not available but the 1900 Glendale census showed Silas G. and his family living in Glendale where he had already been promoted to Superintendent of the mill. Three of his children also worked in the mill; Silas W. was a spinner, James P. worked on the speeder and Harry C. was a doffer. Benjamin was listed as a farmer. The 1910 census listed Silas G. as Mill Superintendent, James was working on the stripper, Wilton was a weaver and Harry had become a machinist. Rev. W. Henry Polk, Pastor of the Glendale Methodist Church where Silas and his family were members, was boarding in their home.

 The obituary of Margaret Williams Smith published in the Spartanburg Herald on March 12, 1918, stated that she died at about 6;45 P.M. March 11, 1918 at the age of 64, following several weeks of illness. The article stated that “she lived on the car line at Glendale and was well known in the city and county where her many friends will learn of her death with genuine sorrow”. She was survived by her husband and various other relatives. Her death certificate showed that she died from Endocarditis (heart problems) and had been under the care of Dr. W. A. Smith from August 11, 1918 until March 11, 1919.

Apparently the Smiths lived in the Twitchell house while in Glendale. Margaret’s obituary stated that she lived on the “car-line”. Only two Overseer houses were ever on the car-line, the Biving’s mansion which Dr. James Bivings, Founder/President of the mill built for his home while in Glendale and the Twitchell house which Albert H. Twitchell, Treasurer/President, built for his home. The Twitchell house became vacant in 1882 when he built a new home in Spartanburg and moved there. Since then, it has been used as the residence of the Spinning room overseer, the position Silas held when first employed at Glendale. According to the records which I have, the first Superintendent to live in the Biving’s house was R. F. Bagwell, in about 1923. 

 It appears that Silas resigned from Glendale Mills shortly after his wife’s death. According to the Deeds found in The Spartanburg Register of Deeds office, Silas G. Smith made the following land purchases/sales in the Ben Avon area of Spartanburg County, Spartanburg, S. C. Deed Book 6-D page 788, dated October 11, 1919, shows Silas paid J.Y. Goodlett sixty seven hundred dollars ($6700.00) for 4.57 acres of land in the Ben Avon area. The East Spartanburg/Ben Avon census taken January 20-21, 1920, shows Silas and his daughter Essie with her child, living in Ben Avon. Silas was listed as a farmer.

Deed Book 6-S page 105, dated December 13, 1922, shows Silas sold the 4.57 acre plot purchased from J.Y. Goodlett to J. A. Downey for seven thousand dollars. ($7,000.00). 

Deed Book 6-0 page 537, dated January 1, 1923, shows Silas G. Smith purchased from G.T. Brown lots 55 & 56 in the Ben Avon Development area for the amount of thirty one hundred dollars. ($3100.00) .

Deed Book 6-S page 391, dated April 18, 1923, shows Silas G. Smith having purchased from Virginia Morris Magness, Trustee and I.B. Magness, lots 9,18,27,36 in the Ben Avon Development area for the amount of four hundred and fifty dollars. ($450.00) These lots were in a row and faced the Spartanburg/Glendale Trolley line and highway. The Ben Avon Methodist Church stands on part of that land today.

 Deed Book 7-P page 350, dated October 13, 1927, shows that Silas G. Smith, in love and affection for his son, deeded lots 9,18,27,36,55 and 56 as shown on the Ben Avon Development Plat drawn by H. L. Kennedy and recorded in Plat book 3, pages 11 & 12, to his son, B. W. Smith. 

Silas G. Smith Sr. died at his home in Ben Avon at the age of 76 on January 27, 1929, from Apoplexy. (Stroke or hemorrhage) Doctor William A. Smith, a Glendale Physician was his attending Physician. Funeral services were held in his home on January 28, 1929. Officiating Ministers were, Rev. C. O. Allen, Pastor of the Ben Avon Methodist Church, Rev. J.W. Shell and the Rev. W. H. Polk who had boarded with the Smith family while at Glendale. Interment followed alongside of his wife in the upper Glendale Cemetery. 

Active pallbearers were the following sons; S.W. Smith, J.P. Smith, B. W. Smith, L.B. Smith, H.C. Smith and M. L. Smith. Honorary pallbearers were; J.E. Shea, W.J. Woodruff, George Begg, W. M. Floyd, S.J. DuPre, J.F. Gignilliat, Charles Holland, A.T. Sloan, W.G. Jackson, W.V. LeMaster, G. W. McCombs,(this writers Grandfather) R. F. Bagwell, J. T. Varner (this writers uncle) D. W. Huff, Dr. W.A. Smith, E.C. Pettit, E. M. Patterson, H.C. Coggins, H. M. Kirby, Landrum Thomas and A. M. Gault. 

Mr. Smith was survived by the following sons and daughters; B.W. and Essie Smith of Ben Avon, Mrs. K.E. Butler of Spencer, N. C., Mrs. E. F. Brown, J.P and S. W. Smith of Clifton, S. C., Luther B. Smith of Gaffney, S. C., W.S. Smith of Tampa, Fla. and H. C. Smith of Spartanburg; 

One sister (name not listed) and 31 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Harry Conway Smith Sr. the son of Silas Sr., who lived at Glendale many years, married Callie McCombs. Born December 4, 1891, she was the daughter of George W. and Margaret McCombs, residents of Glendale. (This writer’s Grandparents) Moving to Spartanburg with his wife and family, Harry became the Manager of the Pierce Motor Company’s body/repair shop. They became the parents of nine children, Harry Conway Jr, Lois, Dorothy, Margaret, Gaines, Ruth, Laura, Gerald and Betty Smith. Harry died August 22, 1969. Callie died May 14, 1938. Both are buried on the lower side of the upper Glendale Cemetery, a short distance from his father and mother.

 Census and Obituary Records, courtesy of the Spartanburg County Library.

My appreciation to Mr. Tim Linder, great, great grandson of Silas G. Smith for supplying pictures, copies of hand written Family Bible records, death certificates, obituary and mortuary, funeral records regarding the Silas Smith family.


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