“The first and only home on Chatham Avenue for decades….”
City Directories and History: The Herald reported on Nov. 25, 1896 – “Major John R. London has recently improved his house on Chatham Ave., with a fresh coat of paint.” (Chatham Ave., was incorporated into Ebenezer Ave., at a later period.)
Among the foremost business men of the post-war era was John Rutherford London. He came from North Carolina and built his home on Chatham Avenue where for a time it was ,the only house in that section, the next nearest being the old Fewell-plantation house later owned by the Alexander Longs. London named the street for his native Chatham County, North Carolina. He was a man of great ability, vision, and positive action. He was a merchant, farmer, banker, cotton grower, and manufacturer. He had a large share in the establishment of the Standard Cotton Mill (now Highland Park) and served as its first president. He was instrumental to a large degree in the building of the old Globe Mill(later the Victoria) and served as its president also. “Major’ London-the title was honorary-served as mayor of Rock Hill for three consecutive terms. His administration was marked by the maintenance of peace and order in a most turbulent and lawless time.
The London home on Chatham Avenue was a gathering · place for those interested in the cultural things of life. In January, 1889, the local paper carried a notice that “a meeting of the ladies and gentlemen of Rock Hill who may be interested in music will be held at the residence of John R. London on Friday evening of this week. It is proposed to organize a musical club.” London helped establish the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, and soon after his death the vestry placed a memorial slab on the wall of the sanctuary above the pew which he occupied.
Also: York was the first county in Upper South Carolina to launch an aggressive campaign for Hampton and in York County there were a number of rifle and Sabre clubs. Major John R. London was elected Colonel for the county and raised a whole regiment of Red Shirts, which regiment later had a countywide rendezvous at York. This regiment was a part of a statewide organization under the command of General James Conner. The members of these groups whenever they appeared in a meeting or in a procession always wore red shirts, which not only served as their uniform but as a symbol of defiance to the white carpetbaggers and scalawags……
As the campaign got under way every political gathering was attended by all the white men, every man wearing his red shirt, marching in military array and under command of his officer, the idea being that such a show of strength would encourage the wavering. Reynolds describes these processions: “The red shirt procession was a feature of every campaign meeting-the number of mounted men in uniform varying … from 500 to 5,000 …. A thousand men on horseback, riding in easy order, every man yelling as long as his throat could stand the effort … the route to the speaking ground lined with men … women and children, waving flags or hats or handkerchiefs to the riders and doing their part to increase the volume of lusty yells and defiant hurrahs-such a body of men might well be taken for one double their . number in fact.”
Exactly how strong, numerically, the Red Shirts were in York County is not known, but Hampton received some of his strongest support in this county. John R. London, in his capacity of Colonel, appointed Captains in each of the townships. Henry Massey was Captain of the company from Ebenezer township, Colonel J. J. Waters, Captain for Catawba township, R. H. Glenn for Sharon, Reese Workman for Rock Hill, and Captain J. Wilson Marshall for Fort Mill.
(Information from: The City Without Cobwebs – Douglas S. Brown, 1953)
The Rock Hill Record reported on March 29, 1908 – “Ebenezer Ave., is being paved between Chatham Ave. and Wilson Street.”
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