Marker to be placed in Pelzer cemetery

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Dedication ceremony Tuesday

The Pelzer Heritage Commission is planning a dedication service for a new marble marker that will be placed at the historic Pelzer cemetery next week. Family members of two of Pelzer’s oldest and most prominient family names are expected to attend the unveiling and dedication of the monument which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.

Three great-great grandsons of John Wilson and the great-great grandaughter of Ellison A. Smyth are expected to attend.

John Wilson was a three term U. S. Congressman whose family owned the land on which Pelzer town and mills were built. He is buried in the famly graveyard.

Captain Ellison Adger Smyth was a co-founder of The Pelzer Manufacturing Company in 1880. He, along with Francis J. Pelzer and William Lebby chose a site on the Saluda River in Anderson County known as Wilson’s Ferry or Wilson’s Bridge to construct their textile mill.

The ferry and the property around it belonged to the Wilsons.

According to historical records, when the company acquired the Wilson property there was only a log house which belonged to the original property owner, Henry Wilson, an old shack and a grist mill located at the shoals just above the ferry.

Captain Smyth later built his residence, which still stands today, at the site of the log house,

A dam was constructed on the Saluda River and construction began on the first Pelzer mill in 1881.

While Smythe is not buried in the cemetery, his beloved dog is, according to Pelzer Heritage Commisssion historian Elaine Hunt.

Wilson’s family members will travel from Mississippi and Columbia to take part in the service.

Wilson’s grave marker at the cemetery is made of soapstone, more commonly known as talc, and was probably transported from the mountains of North Carolina, according to historical information.

Information attributed to Pelzer resident J. W. Blythe reported that more than 100 people were buried in the old graveyard and the last known burial took place between 1880 and 1890.

It is not known who else is buried in the cemetery as the records, which were stored in the mill office, were burned in a fire in 1935.

It is believed gravesites date back as far as the 1700s, according to Pelzer Heritage Commission Chairman Dianne Lollis.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission, comprised of a group of local citizens who were born and raised in Pelzer, undertook cleanup and restoration of both of Pelzer’s cemeteries.

The historical marker is the latest project for the group. It will be placed in a prominient location in the cemetery which has been cleaned by volunteers and members of the committee.

As many as 30 trees were removed from the hilltop cemetery, which is located on the wooded knoll between Hale St. and the Pelzer Community Building. The stumps were ground down and the neglected cemetery was cleared of underbrush.

Workers then scraped and sowed it with grass seed. A number of old wooden crosses which had fallen into disrepair were removed and those that remained have a fresh coat of white paint.

Shrubs, azaleas and Crepe Myrtles have been planted along the cemetery fence and a portion of the fence near the parking lot is to be replaced, according to Richard Bruce, who along with his wife Elaine, helped with most of the clearing and planting.

Local dignitaries are expected to attend and the public is invited, Lollis said