Wofford's Fort

Most people nowadays would say that the Indian Wars were something that happened out West with the Apache and the Sioux. However, in the time leading up to the Revolutionary War, the area around Glendale and Pacolet was on America’s wild frontier.

When the first white Europeans came to Lawson’s Fork Creek and the Pacolet River, American Indians had been living here and using the land and water for thousands of years.

Eventually, as more and more settlers came to settle the SC Upstate, the conflict between the settlers and the Indians grew worse. The settlers in what is now Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties were building cabins and farms on land that the Cherokees had always used for hunting. The Catawba Indians also sometimes hunted in this area. The soapstone quarries near both Pacolet and Glendale had been used by several Indian tribes for hundreds of years. There were no permanent Cherokee towns at Glendale or Pacolet. The closest one was Socony. This was near the present town of Pickens, about 50 miles away.

The British Government had long tried to protect the Indians, and their valuable trade, by establishing an “Indian Line” that the settlers were supposed not to cross to claim land and settle. That line ran between what are now the towns of Spartanburg and Greenville near Greer.

Many settlers ignored the Line and built farms on Indian land anyway. It all came to a head just at the beginning of the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776, the Cherokees rose up and attacked settlers all along the frontier. Settlers including women and children were killed within 25 miles of Pacolet and Glendale along the Tyger, Pacolet and Broad Rivers.

The settlers built several so called “forts” where people could gather and be more secure than on their individual farms. Many of these forts were not much more than fortified  log houses. One of these, Wofford’s Fort, was constructed on Lawson’s Fork Creek in the vicinity of the Ironworks near what is now Glendale. This fort was built sometime in 1776 by William Wofford. Some older forts, like Fort Thicketty  in nearby present day Cherokee County, had been built earlier by the British Government as protection against the Indians.

Wofford’s Fort was important to the settlers in the area. When the word came of a possible Indian attack the settlers would hurry to the fort. Sometimes, they would have to stay there for weeks at a time. Records exist that show that Joseph Buffington, an ironworker, and his wife, Mary, were staying at Wofford’s Fort when their seventh child, Elizabeth was born. They had already been at the fort for three weeks when the baby was born. 

The fort was also important for the use of the militia going to fight the Cherokees. After the Cherokee Uprising, the officials of the states of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia called out the militia to wage war on the Cherokees. Each state sent an army into different parts of the Cherokee Nation to  destroy the towns and crops. The SC militia army was led by General Andrew Williamson. His army had militia units from various parts of the state. One of these was commanded by Captain Peter Clinton of the York district. On their march to the Indian territory they camped at Wofford’s Fort. There, they got word that the Indians were attacking Prince’s Fort, 15 miles away, in what is now northwest Spartanburg County. They marched there the next day.

Soon, they joined the rest of Williamson’s army of about 1,000 men to lay waste to Cherokee towns and crops. When the fighting was over, month’s later in October, Captain Clinton and his men came back through Wofford’s Fort and Grindal Shoals on the way back to the York territory. One of the soldiers marching with Clinton was named Arthur Faires. He kept a diary of his adventures that can be read at Fighting the Cherokee.

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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:
marylee@glendalesc.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.