Walterboro – Paradise in the Pines
“For many years before the war, Walterboro was a summer resort for the Ashepoo and Combahee river planters and was even then famous for a light and pure atmosphere, cool nights, and cold water. In those days lawyers and pretty women were the chief products, and these elements are still prominent in the Walterboro of today.
Until recently Walterboro has been but little known to the outside world, the dreaded hack ride of thirteen miles from Green Pond deterring many commercial travellers and business men from visiting the town. About two years ago, however, the Green Pond, Walterboro, and Branchville Railroad was completed from Green Pond to Walterboro, and now double daily trains are run, making close connection with the trains on the Charleston and Savannah Railway and affording the Walterboro public first-class facilities. With the railroad has come an almost phenomenal increase of business. Formerly the long haul by wagon made cotton culture unprofitable to many planters; and, as very few tons of commercial fertilizers were used, the production was necessarily limited. There has been, however, a remarkable metamorphosis. For the past two seasons hundreds of tons of fertilizers have been shipped here by Charleston firms, and thousands of acres of hitherto unprofitable land have been brought into cultivation and the cotton receipts have quadrupled.
A new and important industry is the lumber business. Two years ago there was only one saw mill in the neighborhood, which is magnificently timbered. Now there are nine and of large capacity. Some of these mills have built tramways to connect with the railroad at Walterboro and their shipments are already very heavy. The abundance and cheapness of lumber has stimulated building, and new stores and dwellings are springing up rapidly. The town, it will be remembered, was almost totally destroyed by a tornado in April 1879, when one hundred and nine houses and all the churches were destroyed. With commendable pluck and energy the people have built up the waste places, and Walterboro is today more prosperous and hopeful than at any period in her existence.
The population is 1,800. The intendant is Mr. B. Stokes, and the wardens are Messrs. M.P. Howell, E.H. Fincken, S.F. Westcoat, S. Hiers, B.G. Hyrne, and B. G. Price, Jr. There is no municipal tax. The revenue of the town is derived from the one bar room, which pays a license of $1,500. From this annual payment the municipality has, in a few years, saved several thousand dollars, which they have just applied to the purchase of a lot and the erection of one of the best school buildings in the State. Mr. Benj. R. Stuart, so well known as an educator in Charleston, has been placed in charge of this academy, with Miss Claudia Stuart and Mrs. A. Klein as assistants.
The following firms operate saw mills in or near Walterboro: Messrs. Wm. Stokes & Son (two mills), Hiers & DuBois, Hiers Bros., Fletcher Mims, Hiers & Dannelly, Pierson & Bros., J.R. Stokes, and W.E. Stokes. A company has recently been organized for the erection of a large rice-pounding and grist mill and canning factory. There are two wagon and buggy factories operated by J.J. Halford and Spartan G. Tant.
The Methodist Church is in charge of the Rev. E.B. Loyless, and the congregation is a large one. The Rev. E.R Hutson is pastor of the Presbyterian Church, a large and commodious building. The Episcopal congregation, like the Presbyterian, is a large one, and the Rev. E.E. Bellinger is rector. The hotels are the Colleton Hotel, conducted by E.H. Fincken, and the Wichman House, owned by A. Wichman. S. Hiers and Mrs. Sauls conduct boarding houses.
The Colleton Press, owned and edited by Mr. B.G. Price, Jr., is an excellent county newspaper, with an increasing circulation and a liberal advertising patronage. In politics it is staunchly Democratic, and its editorial utterances are dean and conservative.
The post office is conveniently located in a handsome building rented by the Government from Messrs. Terry & Shaffer. Mr. E.M. Jones, the postmaster, is courteous and attentive and deservedly popular. Dr. B.P. Fishbume is president of the board of health; but, as there is seldom any sickness save on a sales day or during court week, he has nothing at all to do.
No one has contributed more to the building up and industrial development of the new Walterboro than E.H. Fincken, a Charleston boy, who settled there some seven or eight years ago, purchasing at that time the Colleton Hotel. This enterprising citizen has recently built an ice house, established a bakery, and operates in addition a grocery, a fruit store, and a confectionery establishment. Among the other merchants are: Messrs. Terry & Shaffer, dealers in cotton, guano, and general merchandise; J.W. Burbridge, general merchandise; A. Wichman, general merchandise and cotton buyer; John F. Lucas, general merchandise and cotton; John M. Klein, extensive dealer in drugs and manufacturer of proprietary medicines; G.W.O. Rivers, general merchandise; A.F. Vaughn, fruiterer; W.C.P. Bellinger, general merchandise; Remus Waring, grocery and restaurant; W.L. Lucas, general merchandise; J. Westerberg, jeweller and optician; B.B. Padgett, drugs and general merchandise; J.T. Beach & Bro., general merchandise; A.M. Mercer, general merchandise; D.O. Edwards, fruiterer; A.C. Von Lehe, general merchandise and livery; D.W. Stokes, drugs and groceries; and Warren Bros., general merchandise.”
Reprinted from South Carolina in the 1880s: A Gazetteer by J.H. Moore, Sandlapper Publishing Company – 1989
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