THE FOUNDING OF PIEDMONT (compiled by Don Roper, Piedmont, S.C.):
Since the village of Piedmont was founded, two generations have come upon the stage of life, and few of our inhabitants know anything of the early history of the place. A few words on this subject may not come amiss. Prior to the year 1873 or 45 years ago this locality was known as “The Big Shoals of the Saluda.” It was indeed a wild section, a mass of wildwood and jungle growth. However, the lands with the water power had been previously purchased by Col. H.P. Hammett during the last days of the Civil War. Col. Hammett also had some experience in the management of a small mill at Batesville in this county, and being a man of great business capacity and broad vision, he saw the possibilities of a great enterprise in his purchase.
The paralyzed condition of all undertakings in consequence of the war made it a difficult matter to interest capital in the venture. Southern men did not have the money and northern men did not believe that a cotton mill could be successfully run in the South. They thought the climate was not adapted to good spinning, and that it would be impossible to obtain skilled labor to operate the plant profitably. This fallacy obtained in the north for a good many years, but is now exploded, and northern capital is glad of the hance to invest in southern mills today.
By the year 1873 a charter had been obtained and work was begun on mill No. 1, but because of the great panic of that year, operations were suspended for a while. They were taken up again in 1874 and the building was finished in 1875. In March, 1876, the machinery was started and the first cloth was made (it was good cloth too). The mill was not then fully equipped, but in 1878 the machinery was all put in, at that time there were 11,000 spindles and 240 looms. The company capital was $334,000. Mill no. 2 was completed in 1882, the two mills then had 24,020 spindles and 568 looms, of the spindles, 6,000 were on yarns.
In 1888, mill no. 3 on the Anderson side of the river was built, and still later mill no. 4 was erected on the Greenville side. So much for the mills.