City Directories and History: Rose’s Hotel 1958 – Carolina Carpet Mills, Inc., Budyed Yarn Inc., 1966 – Carolina Carpet Mills, York Rug Mills, Inc., Cloniger Brothers Real Estate
This historic Rose hotel was built in 1852 by Dr. James Rufus Bratton and Dr. E. A. Crenshaw. It was called the Rose Hotel after the Rose family who operated it for many years. The Rose Hotel was referred to in Columbia and Charleston newspapers as being “one of the most palatial hotels in the Up-Country.” The building is an example of classical commercial architecture with its brick and
concrete stucco pilasters and Greek Revival double gallery. This building remained a hotel until the end of World War II, when it was purchased by the Cloniger Brothers and used as a carpet manufacturing plant. After standing idle for decades, it now has become apartments and offices. At the end of the War Between the States, Confederate States Secretary of War Breckenridge, fleeing the fall of Richmond with Jefferson Davis, spent the night in York and made a speech to the populace from its second-story gallery, telling the people to “keep the
During post-war Reconstruction, the Rose Hotel housed six companies of the U.S. 7th Cavalry and two companies of infantry, “Occupation troops”. The notorious Captain Merrill and his troops remained here until 1876, when former Confederate Cavalry General Wade Hampton was elected Governor and restored order. President Hayes relieved them in 1877. The building was completely renovated and turned into apartments and offices in 2000. [Courtesy of the Yorkville Historical Society – 2002]
The Herald reported on March 11, 1896, concerning the death of General Merrill, “This name does not recall pleasant memories in York County, being associated with the cruel persecution of the KKK.”
*** The 1910 Sanborn map lists this location as #50 South Congress.
CRENSHAWS OF YORK
(Found in The Gist Family of South Carolina and its Maryland Antecedents by Wilson Gee, privately printed for the author by Jarman’s Incorporated, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1934, pp. 67-68.) William C. Gist was married to Frances Dorothy Caroline Crenshaw, December 31, 1860, at the home of Dr. E. A. Crenshaw, the bride’s father in Yorkville, South Carolina.. \A footnote identifies the bride.] Frances Dorothy Caroline Crenshaw was bom at Yorkville, South Carolina, September 17, 1840. She was graduated from the Yorkville Female College in the Class of 1857. Her descent is as follows: Paternal Crenshaw line – Robert Crenshaw, Sr., native of the State of Virginia, ‘Whig of the American Revolution,’ married Elizabeth Beaufort (born December 3, 1738) of or near Prince William County, Virginia. After the Revolutionary War, he removed to South Carolina, Union District, and became a farmer. There are relatives in Culpepper, Fauquier and Prince William counties, Virginia.
Robert Crenshaw, Jr. was born July 8, 1775; married Dorothy Abell, December 18, 1802; died February 21,1816. He lived on a farm on Tyger River, Union District, South Carolina. Ephraim Abell Crenshaw, only child, was born September 16, 1804. He was licensed to preach in the Independent Presbyterian Church in November, 1833. He declined that church’s jurisdiction in 1840, joined the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., October 3, 1840, and recommenced mercantile business in Yorkville, South Carolina in 1842. His death occurred on April 9,1876. For more than thirty years he was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in Yorkville, South Carolina. His second wife was Margaret Ewart Adams, whom he married on April 11, 1839. Mrs. Augusta Evans Wilson, famous Southern author, was the granddaughter of Mrs. Patsy (Martha) Crenshaw Evans, who was the aunt of Ephraim Abell Crenshaw and helped to care for him in his motherless infancy. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
SAMUEL B. HALL & MAJ. LEWIS MERRILL by Louise Pettus
In the dark days of the Reconstruction era, it was easy for the unscrupulous to take advantage of the situation to line their own pockets and to advance in political office. Two men of totally different background, happened to find their opportunity to profit in the county seat town of York. Their lives crossed in a strange way. The first man, Samuel B. Hall, a native of York with a good classical education, married, a father, and politically ambitious, joined the Republican Party’s radical branch, as he frankly admitted, “to make money out of it.”
Hall joined the Union League in March 1870 in an initiation ceremony with a half dozen other whites and blacks who he thought shared his motives and “had no scruples as to how the money was made.” The Radical Republicans saw to it that Hall became probate judge of York County.in the fall of 1870. A part of Hall’s eligibility was that he had not served in the Confederate forces. The second man, Maj. Lewis A. Merrill, was a graduate of West Point, where he earned the nickname “Dog” Merrill, had headed a Union cavalry unit during the Civil War and came to York in 1871 to head the federal occupation forces and to subdue the Ku Klux Klan activity in a nine-county area. Merrill and Co. K. Seventh Cavalry soon were rounding up anyone suspected of possibly being a Ku Klux Klan member. The arrests were generally made after midnight with the head of the household routed from his bed and taken away without any explanation to the terrified family. Later it was written that “even Merrill’s subordinate officers were ashamed of his ruffianism in 1871.”
During the August political campaigning of 1872, Samuel B. Hall spoke to about 500 York citizens from the courthouse steps. He was defending himself against Merrill’s charges that Hall had used the probate judge’s office to line his own pockets. Indignantly, Hall struck back with the accusation that Merrill was guilty of the “most infamous lie that was ever told on the streets of Yorkville, even in the State House at Columbia.” Hall charged that Merrill, “by the use of money and having men swear lies, thought he could go to work to have the Writ of Habeas Corpus suspended” but that, instead, Merrill was thwarted by Pres. U. S. Grant’s pardon of Merrill’s chief intended victims. Hall contended that Merrill, nevertheless, threatened the innocent and extorted money from them. To press his charges further, Hall wrote a little book titled “A Shell in the Radical Camp” in which he gave an account of York’s Union League members and their behavior. Hall also recounted stories he had heard of Merrill’s cowardice during the Civil War.
Hall’s shocking little book didn’t help his own cause. He was arrested by the party he had lately been a part of, tried and convicted of “official misconduct.” He was sentenced to one year in the county jail and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Major Merrill, who had recently passed the S. C. bar examination and become a practicing lawyer, persuaded the S. C. legislature to award him $15,000 for his “services”. The impropriety of a Union officer acting as an attorney in court cases that he instigated, plus requesting a reward for army services, was questioned by people even of his own party. Perhaps this is why Merrill was quickly transferred to Fort Dakota in the west. However, Merrill stayed only a short time in Dakota before being transferred to Louisiana to head the military district of northern Louisiana.
While Hall was in jail, a Union officer named Benner, who was drunk at the time, “foully and grossly” approached the teen-aged daughter of Hall. Infuriated, Hall wrote a letter to a Charlotte, N. C. newspaper, Southern Home, owned and edited by the Civil War general, D. H. Hill, a York County native. After the newspaper printed the “insult”, Benner, thinking that Hill was to be the speaker at a Sunday School convention at York County’s Bethel Church, sent a posse to arrest Hill for libel. Hill did not appear (and said he was not invited), but word got around of Benner’s intentions and he was soon transferred. When Benner and his Union detachment left, Southern Home editorialized that it was good riddance of “the herd of a band of rough riders as ferocious and unfeeling as the dragoons of Cleverhouse.”
(Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
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