City Directories and History:
In 1801, an Act of the South Carolina General Assembly created the Town of Andersonville on land owned by Colonel Elias Earle. Other founders were General Samuel Earle and General Robert Anderson, for whom the county and county seat were named. Located where the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers joined to form the Savannah, this thriving river port plated a key role in the development of the Upcountry. A prosperous trade in cotton, skins and other commodities was carried on by barges which plied the river to Augusta and other downstream ports. Through Andersonville in its early days passed a great migration of frontiersmen and settlers along a branch of the Old Post Road, or Great Southern Road.
In its heyday, Andersonville was larger than Pendleton or Anderson. In addition to the barge line, its industries included a grist mill, sawmill, wool factory, tanyard, shoe shop, clock factory, blacksmith, tailor, wagon shop, livery stables, warehouses, gun factory and several general merchandise stores. To accommodate the travelers and business visitors, a 40-room hotel was built and two ferries put into operation. By 1812, there was a flourishing Female Academy with an English couple in charge. Although Col. Earle had sold some lots, he owned most of Andersonville and when he died it passed to James Harrison who had married his daughter and to whom he earlier had sold one-half interest in his holdings.
Andersonville was a dead city by the mid-1850’s, its commerce gone and only a few lovely homes and ruins of its industries remaining. In 1840 a great freshnet swept away the cotton and wool mills and the cotton gin. They were rebuilt only to be carried away again by raging waters in 1850, but this time Andersonville had entered upon its decline with the coming of the railroads into the county, specifically the Greenville and Columbia, so they were never rebuilt. Colonel Frank Harrison, son of James Harrison, pushed for a G&C spur to be built to Andersonville to respark interest in the town, but he failed.
The Andersonville post office remained until 1893 and a small baptist church, also known as Andersonville, supported the few families who lived there. By World War II, the once thriving river village was a ghost town. The river waters were Andersonville’s raison d’etre and also spelled its doom. The impounded waters forming Hartwell Reservoir covered the site by 1962 leaving only a small portion of a high ridge as an island. (Source: Anderson County Sketches by the Anderson County Tricentennial Commission, 1969; Remembering South Carolina’s Pendleton District by Hurley Badders, 2006)
Prior to the flooding of the region, hundreds of graves were relocated to nearby cemeteries. Most were relocated at the Andersonville Baptist Church, which had also moved to its current location.
- Earle Town House (107 James Street, Greenville, SC) home of Elias Earle
- Andersonville: An Old Town – Reminiscences of the Past (June 11, 1885, Anderson Intelligencer)
- Forest Fire Torches Andersonville Island (2011)
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