History of Simpsonville

History of Simpsonville, SC

Simpsonville is a city in Greenville County, SC. It started in 1820 as a stage stop at the intersection of old stage road and a former Cherokee trail. It draws its name from one farmer, Peter Simpson, who came to the area in 1838 and started a blacksmithing operation. The city naming resulted from the increasing fame of the services offered by Simpson. The city was incorporated on the 3rd of August 1903. Today it is considered one of the best places to live in South Carolina.

Silas Gilbert, who was among the first settlers, established a general store in the area in 1836. Two years later, Peter Simpson came and started blacksmithing operations. The same year, a post office named Plain was assigned to the area when mail began arriving. The post office would later be called Simpsonville in 1886. Wagon trade stopped when the Greenville and Columbia Railroad was completed in the early 1850s. This stunted growth in the village through the time of Reconstruction after the civil war.

The first church in Simpsonville was the Methodist Episcopal Church founded in 1842. After the Civil War, the local African Americans left the churches of former slave owners. They formed their own churches. Cedar Grove Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Tom Jones in 1870 in a small frame building, and in 1913-14, the current brick building was built. It was later placed on the historic sites register in 1992. The location of the church was a former family cemetery before being donated to the church.

Schooling began in Simpsonville after the American Civil War. Three-four single teacher schools emerged in the 1880s. The schools were name this way because they had three to four-month sessions. The first of these began in 1882 as a private school in a one-room structure. Later, these schools would pass the students into a high school in Simpsonville. Simpsonville High School was started in 1885. Soon after, a school for African Americans also began in 1891. In 1907, a two-story brick building opened. It served both the elementary and high schools. Then the two got separated in 1921 when a separate building was erected for the Simpsonville High School. Simpsonville Elementary School would then be established in 1939. The Simpsonville School system became more standard. And Simpsonville High School became the first high school in Greenville to present diplomas to graduates. Simpsonville High School would later be replaced by the Hillcrest High School in 1957, in a bid to improve school facilities and educational opportunities.

Since its founding, Simpsonville has grown and a quick pace. In 1885 Sidney J. Wilson, a North Carolinian, surveyed the land for a town and began selling off lots. It would then develop into a processing village consisting of three gins and a cottonseed mill. The establishment of Woodside Cotton Mill in 1908 was an economic game-changer. It became the largest employer until after World War II.  The mill closed in 1989 and the building converted to a commercial space with loft condos. Today it is called Cotton Mill Place.

Following the Great Depression of the 1930s, Simpsonville paused it’s growth as the burgeoning agricultural centre that it was. The economic crisis caused banks to suffer, and most were closed. One of the few Greenville County banks that survived was the Farmers Bank of Simpsonville.

In 1953 when Greenville waterworks stretched its systems to Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn, the area began to grow again. As a result, Simpsonville SC became attractive to industrial developments. A concurrent need for new housing and the broadening of highway 276 in 1956 laid the foundation for more growth. Many local businesses became operation again. The town experienced overwhelming population growth in the late 1900s.

Simpsonville SC boasts high ranking schools, numerous parks, and a great road network. It is also known for low unemployment levels because of a variety of industries. Simpsonville has become one of the great places to live in the upstate of South Carolina.

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