202 North Zion Street
City Directories and History: Site of Mount Zion Institute this school, operated by the Mt. Zion Society, was chartered February 13, 1777 by the S.C. General Assembly for the purpose of
founding, endowing, and supporting a public school in the District of Camden. Closed during the British occupation, it opened again in 1784 a charter was obtained for a college March 19, 1795, by the SC General Assembly. It states that the General Assembly had received a petition from the Mt. Zion Society asking that a college be established and erected in the village of Winnsboro for the instruction of youth in the languages and liberal arts and sciences, and that the said college maybe committed to the management, direction, and government of trustees, to be chosen and appointed by said society out of their members.
On January 29, 1777 in Charlestown the Mount Zion Society was organized. It has been claimed that it was composed of about four hundred people from all parts of the State, but mostly from Charlestown. On February 13 of the same year the society was incorporated for the purpose of “founding, endowing, and supporting a public school in the district of Camden”. First president of the society was John Winn of Winnsborough, and wardens were General Strother and Captain Robert Ellison. Of the thirteen members of the Board of Directors, seven were from Up-Country and six from Charlestown. This was the first cooperative undertaking between South Carolina Low and Up-Country for general welfare.
As early perhaps as 1767 William Humphreys conducted classes in Winnsboro in a small building believed to have been located near the site of the present post office. It is believed that he became an employee of the Mt. Zion Society after its incorporation.
The occupation of Winnsboro by Lord Cornwallis late in 1780 interrupted classes, but in 1783 the society met, reorganized, and continued the school. The building of the period was a modest structure of logs but located upon the same site it has occupied throughout the years. In 1784 the Reverend Thomas Harris McCauley (PL) was given charge of the institution. He and his three assistants, W. S. Yongue, W. M. Davy, and William Humphreys, enlarged and improved the school.
In 1785 the General Assembly of South Carolina granted a charter to “Mt. Zion College at Winnsboro”, but the school never functioned under it. 1824 is recalled as the date that the Mt. Zion Society met for the first time in Winnsboro. Prior to this date Up-Country members had to journey 150 miles to attend society meetings. James W. Hudson became principal in 1834. He was a teacher and administrator of considerable ability and with the aid of six assistants he made the school famous. Students were attracted from distant parts. During the War Between the States, Mt. Zion did not close. Classes, however, had to seek shelter in the Baptist Church and other buildings when the school building was taken over for a military hospital. Late in the war Federal troops occupied it.
Gen. John A. Alston, principal of the Rock Hill Academy, was elected principal of the Mount Zion Collegiate Institute, at Winnsboro, to succeed J.N. Hudson, deceased. General Alston was a native of Fairfield County and a graduate of the South Carolina College. John M. Beaty (or Beaty) was elected to succeed General Alston in Rock Hill. (Correspondence via WBW, 2007)
Gen. John A. Alston, former principal of the Rock Hill Academy and of the Ebenezer Academy (in Rock Hill), died in Winnsboro in February, 1860 and was buried in the Methodist Cemetery in that City.
In 1867 the building was burned at a loss of $30,000. A small building to replace it was finally built six years later. Mt. Zion was changed from an academy to a public school in 1878. This is believed to be the first public school in the State outside of Charleston. Note that long-term principal, Grover F. Patton is pictured.
Click on the More Information / Articles > link to find additional data – A Fairfield County Sketchbook, by J.S. Bolick, 2000 (Courtesy of the FCHS)
JOHN R. SCHORB
In John Schorb’s time it was very difficult to make a living as a photographer. Between 1850 and 1853, he moved to Winnsboro and got a position at Mount Zion Institute. Here he taught astronomy, chemistry, and “belles-lettres.” Schorb had time to get involved in community affairs and was a member of a drama troupe known as the Winnsboro Thespian Corps. (WU Dacus Library Information)
Yorkville Enquirer, October 27, 1908: “Mr. John R. Schorb of Yorkville, passed his ninetieth birthday last Saturday, and several friends dropped in during the day to congratulate him on the occasion. The editor of The Enquirer was among the number, and when he called shortly after noon, he found the old gentleman busy at work developing and toning a number of photographic prints that he had made for customers during the morning. Mr. Schorb is easily the oldest citizen of Yorkville, and so far as The Enquirer has information, is the oldest citizen of York county. He was bom in the Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany, in 1818, came to America in 1834 and has been a resident of Yorkville since December, 1853. He is unquestionably the oldest photographer in the United States, if not in the world. He learned the art from a Prof. Avery, who was a pupil of Daguerre, the discoverer and inventor of the art. This was away back in 1840 or 1841, only a few years
after the first announcement of Daguerre’s famous discovery. Mr. Schorb came to Yorkville originally for the purpose of teaching school, and taught until 1869. He had been giving his spare time to photography from his first arrival however, and it was not until the last named date that he began to devote all of his time to the art. Among the treasures of his studio, which he showed some of his visitors last Saturday, including the editor, is a collection of photographs of some of the older inhabitants of Yorkville, who were young men and young women when he came to the town, and along with these the collection includes, in many instances children and grandchildren. But the whole studio is interesting especially to people who have been more or less familiar with the town for a period of 40, 50 or 60 years. It would not be fair to say that Mr. Schorb is in robust, physical health; but he is in remarkably fine physical condition considering his recent severe illness and his advanced age. His mental condition is perfect. Yorkville Enquirer, November 3, 1908: Mr. John R. Schorb, the venerable photographer who is so well known to most of the readers of The Enquirer, breathed his last at his home in Yorkville yesterday morning at 1 o’clock and was buried this morning at 11, the funeral services taking place in the Presbyterian church and the interment in the Yorkville cemetery. Mr. Schorb celebrated his ninetieth birthday on October 24, and there was an extended notice of the event in our issue of October 27. The facts stated in that notice were taken mainly from memorandum made by the late Capt. L. M. Grist in a book that he used to keep for that purpose. [Here we omit information given in the October 27 article above rather than repeat as The Enquirer did.] He first took up his residence in Buffalo, N. Y., but after two years went to Michigan City, Indiana. How he got to Canton, Ohio is not stated in the notes; but ‘from Canton, Ohio, he walked the entire distance to Michigan City, over four hundred miles in the snow.”.. .. After two years in Michigan City, Mr. Schorb returned to Buffalo, and in 1840, cast his first presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate. Friends in Buffalo furnished the means and he prepared himself for Hamilton college, at Rochester, from which he was afterwards graduated. While at college he learned photography from a Professor Avery, one of the instructors who had gone to France for the purpose of being initiated into the mysteries of the art by Daguerre, the discoverer and inventor. Professor Avery imparted his instruction voluntarily and without charge. After graduation Mr. Schorb devoted himself to the practice of photography, for which purpose he visited a number of towns in New York, New Jersey and Virginia. Later he went to Charleston, and from there to Columbia, and from Columbia to Winnsboro. While in Columbia he was offered a position as instructor in the famous Mount Zion Institute at Winnsboro for five years and went to that place for the purpose of accepting that position. That was in 1848.” (Part of the article on John R. Schorb)
(Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.
Please enjoy this structure and all those listed in Roots and Recall. But remember each is private property. So view them from a distance or from a public area such as the sidewalk or public road.
Do you have information to share and preserve? Family, school, church, or other older photos and stories are welcome. Send them digitally through the “Share Your Story” link, so they too might be posted on Roots and Recall.
User comments always welcome - please post at the bottom of this page.