City Directories and History: This was indeed one of Yorkville’s finest antebellum homes! Built by local York County contractor Thomas Hyde Smith (1794 – 10/30/1862), and his crew of
carpenters, artisans, etc., this home stood for over one-hundred years as a reminder of just how prosperous Yorkville was prior to the Civil War. Thomas Hyde Smith remains ones of the regions most prolific artisans building many dwellings throughout the area as well as is credited with the First Presbyterian Church of Yorkville, S.C. He was also a prolific coffin and furniture builder. His coffins were in high demand and fetched a very handsome price. In 1847 he purchased lights and sash from John Albright’s estate sale for $66.30.
The house he constructed for the family was a unique blend of Italianate architectural style with the elaborate Greek Revival front porch. This was a common practice among local artisan-contractors who often combined elements from several known styles to most often please their demanding clients. The Neely home was demolished and in 2012 an empty parking lot remains on the corner of Madison and North Congress where this fine dwelling once stood.
Much credit is given to Mrs. Elizabeth Neely, the owner of this home on North Congress for here ability to manage properties and support her family during a time many considered women inferior. Later, this became the home of Colonel William Blackburn Wilson, a very prominent attorney and the signer of the Ordinance of Secession for York County, SC. It was Wm. Blackburn Wilson of York, S.C. who took his family out west and it so heavily influenced his son, W.B. Wilson, Jr., he later moved to Rock Hill, SC, where he spearheaded the development of Oakland Avenue in that city. Other owners of the property included Samuel M. McNeel, the President of the Loan and Saving Bank and the Tavora Cotton mills who acquired the property in circa 1903.
The Herald reported on Aug. 1st 1900 – “The Sutro Cotton Mill in Yorkville has gone bankrupt which has caused the bankruptcy of the Loan and Savings Bank of York. The proprietor of the mill is Mr. T.B. McClain.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 1, 1900 the bank was reportedly reorganized – “Mr. Sam McNeel, Pres., and directors: G.H. O’Leary, W.W. Lewis, W. Brown Wylie, and C.E. Spencer. The cashier is W.P. Harrison.”
(The Sutro Mill became the Travora Cotton Mills in ca. 1902)
When the Neely-Wilson-McNeel home was demolished in circa 1975, the columns from this handsome structure remained in excellent condition and were removed for re-use at Eastview Baptist Church, where they remain in use in 2012. This dwelling was originally listed as #’s 162-163 North Congress.
In 1910, Rock Hill contractor and architect Mr. Julian S. Starr also constructed a commercial building for S.M. McNeel consisting of what was called an “office and store.”
COLONEL W.B. WILSON – Signer of the Ordinance of Secession of South Carolina and Colonel in the Confederate Army— by Minnie Wilson Long (Mrs. Alexander Long, Sr.), his Daughter
Col. W. B. Wilson was born in Columbia, S. C., April 5, 1827. His father was the Rev. William Stanyame Wilson, and his mother a daughter of George Blackburn, L. L. D., who was at one time professor of Astronomy and Mathematics in William and Mary College, Virginia, and later professor of the same science in South Carolina College. Receiving his preparatory education in Cokesbury Institute, Abbeville County. Colonel Wilson entered the South Carolina College as a sophomore in October 1843, and was graduated with first appointment in December 1846. As the Valedictorian of his class he acquitted himself with such distinction that the honor has never been lost sight of. He took a post-graduate course and received the degree of A. M. and in the meantime studied Law with the late Chancellor Caldwell, and was admitted to practice in May, 1848.
Colonel Wilson located at this time in Yorkville, beginning the practice of his profession with Colonel I. D. Witherspoon, with whom he was associated until the death of that gentleman. He then formed a partnership with I. D. Witherspoon, Jr., now Judge of the Sixth Circuit.
Upon the admission of the Bar of the Hon. W. B. Wilson, Jr., the present eminent law firm of Wilson and Wilson was established in 1860. Upon the occasion of the anniversary of the battle of Fort Moultrie, Colonel Wilson delivered an oration suitable to the event to a vast audience in Charleston. At the conclusion of the address, the eloquent speaker was accorded an ovation by the enthusiastic audience. December 7, 1869, he delivered the annual oration before the Clariosophic and Euphradian Societies of he South Carolina University and another address nine years later upon the same anniversary, before the reunited class of 1846, which resulted in the organization of the Alumni Association of the college. Subsequently, he delivered an oration before that body on the floor of the House of Representatives, and another memorial speech was made before the graduation class of Reidville Academy, the trustees of the college paying him he compliment of having the oration published.
Colonel Wilson has been elected to represent his county in the Legislature three times by the almost unanimous vote of the people. In 1853 he was elected to that body as the head of his ticket, and in 1860 he was sent at the head of the ticket, to the state convention which adopted the Ordinance of Secession. In 1882 he was again awarded the honor of election to the Legislature at the head of the ticket. Entering the Confederate Army as a private, he served for nine months in the Beaufort Artillery; was promoted to the captaincy of a Color company in the Seventeenth Regiment, and was subsequently commissioned Colonel of the Seventh South Carolina Regiment, was then made acting Brigadier-General, and at the close of the war held the rank of Adjutant of the Third Military District. Colonel Wilson has been most happy in his domestic relations. In April, 1849, he married Miss Sarah M. Lowry, and ten children were born to them, of whom five sons and one daughter are living. Mrs. Wilson died in 1869 and he subsequently married Miss Annie Latta, by whom he had four children, of which two daughters survive.
The Rev. William Stanyame Wilson, Colonel Wilson’s father, was born and reared on Johns Island, S. C. At one time Colonel Wilson was the only Episcopalian in York County but under Divine Providence secured the erection of the first church of that denomination in Yorkville, known as the Good Shepherd, and did much for his Master on earth by his untiring efforts and Godly life. For thirty-three years a Warden of the church, he officiated as Superintendent of the Sunday School for eleven years. His grandfather was John Wilson of English parentage. The Stanyame family came to South Carolina with Governor Sayles, and it was through his father’s mother that he was connected with this family. She was the daughter of William Stanyame of Johns Island, and niece of John Stanyame of James Island, S. C. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
Click on the More Information link for additional information on the builder.
R&R NOTE: B. Wilson lived in Yorkville, was a 33 year-old planter/lawyer, was born in Columbia, owned $22,000 in real estate, $34,100 in personal property, and forty-six slaves. (Courtesy of historian James Gettys, 2018)
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