City Directories and History: Walker’s 1910 Postal Route map is an invaluable tool in tracking historical locations in York County’s early 20th century rural communities. Each section is tagged with the names associated with that particular area. Be sure to open the MORE INFORMATION / ENLARGEABLE MAP link for the enlargeable PDF map which users can easily study.
The Herald reported on Nov. 28, 1918 – “The Tirzah Presbyterian Church will be dedicated Sunday. The building has been completed and the entire cost has been paid.”
In many cases, these same locations, have also been linked directly to the R&R “other” pages, associated with the individual names, and sites on the maps. To return to the master index list, click HOME.
RECOLLECTIONS OF REV. ROBERT LATHAN
(The following are some excerpts of a lengthy letter written by Reverend Lathan to the editors of The Yorkville Enquirer and printed in the August 19, 1891 issue.)
…. On the 14th of November, 1858, I came to Yorkville to take charge of the Associate Reformed congregations of Yorkville and Tirzah. In the two congregations there were at that time only forty-three members; thirty-seven at Tirzah and six in Yorkville. Of the original forty-three only three remain: Mrs. Mary Miller, Mr. Matthew Elder, and Mr. S. A. McElwee. The others have all been gathered to their fathers.
Although the congregation of Tirzah in 1858 numbered only thirty-seven, they were, in the aggregate, worth at least two hundred thousand dollars. Not a single one of them owed any one a single cent. All of them sold com, flour and bacon, and had money to lend at all seasons of the year. Perhaps they had near one hundred and fifty thousand dollars invested in slaves. The war, whatever it affected, certainly freed these slaves. This produced a convulsion in society similar to that of an earthquake in the material world. It took years to get over the shock, but apparently the people have about recovered. While there is certainly less wheat and oats raised in the territory in which the members of Tirzah congregation are located than there was in 1858, there is as much com, and perhaps ten times as much cotton. …
The cost of living is, perhaps, greater than it was in 1858, but probably not as much greater as, without reflection, the most of persons might conclude. The members of Tirzah congregation dressed as fine, drove as fine horses, rode in as fine carriages and buggies as those of today do. It is believed that there was, in fact, more style then than now. Their pastor—and he has always been a plain man—enjoyed the luxury of a horse and buggy for which he paid $275, and there were several members of the congregation who claimed to be the owners of horses and buggies of greater value.
The question is asked how does it happen that the times are so hard? What comes of all the cotton money? Well, it is not easy to answer these questions absolutely satisfactorily. The answer which, in all probability is nearest correct, is that in 1858 some of the white people worked, and all the negroes were made to work. Now only some of the white people and none of the negroes, or certainly very few of them, work well when their labor is not directed. In addition to this, in 1858 there was very little money expended for commercial fertilizers. Today it costs, on an average, about one-half of what the farming land is worth to fertilize….
Through the northwestern comer of York county there flows a large creek, called King’s creek. It rises in Gaston county, N. C., and flows in a southwestern course, and empties into Broad river about ten miles north of Smith’s ford. The name King’s creek is of doubtful origin. One tradition is that it was so named by Colonel Ferguson, while camping on its tributaries. If this be true, the name is coeval with the battle of King’s Mountain. Another and better established tradition is, that the name of both the mountain and the creek were given in honor of a man by the name of King, who settled before the Revolutionary war, near the town of King’s Mountain, on the Air Line railroad.
The region of country through which King’s creek flows is picturesque rather than beautiful. The bottoms jut out against hills so precipitous that in many places neither man nor domestic animal can either ascend or descend with safety. The first settlers of the region generally built their houses in the bottoms at the edge of the hills. For many years—until after the fall of the Southern Confederacy—very little of the upland was cleared. The bottoms, although many of them have been in cultivation for more than a century, are today producing, on an average, forty bushels of com to the acre.
The first settlers were men of energy. Many of them, although beginning the world with nothing accumulated, what in their day, was regarded as a fortune. They cut down huge trees in the forest, hewed them on two sides and built with these hewn logs large dwellings, houses, barns, stables, com cribs and meat houses, which they called “smoke houses.” At a later period saw mills were built and the old log houses were weather boarded and ceiled, side rooms and dining room added to the rear side and a “porch” to the front side. In some of these old houses three generations of men and women have lived and died. These old houses were all about a story and a half high with a chimney at the end, capable of taking in a log of wood eight feet long. In the olden times, during the long winter nights, the mother of the family sat in one comer while the father occupied the other. The mother spun while the father carded and the other children picked the seed out of the cotton. The barn was full of hay and fodder. The crib of com, the smoke house of bacon and lard, the stable was occupied by fat horses, and droves of cows and sheep ranged on the hills. When the clothes of the family were all made the father of the family with a wee one on his knee read aloud the tales of the trials of their ancestors in England or Ireland or Scotland, while the mother nimbly plied her fingers in knitting a stocking, intently listening to the reading at the same time.
These were primitive times. The people used no coffee, no sugar and no molasses, which they called treacle, except on rare occasions. By and by they began “to gather gear,” and buy negroes, and cultivate cotton. The fingers were supplanted by the cotton gin, the wheel and cards were stored away in the garret and “Nor’d homespun” bought. The women ceased to wear checked frocks and the men home made jeans pants in winter and copperas pants in summer. Times changed. The com crib and bam became empty by the middle of April and the meat house and horse stables were built in the great Northwestern cities, Chicago and Cincinnati.
But it is no use to cry over spilled milk. The country still remains, and that plenty with which it once abounded may still be brought back if the people would only take a common sense view of things. If it were today, as it was seventy years ago, a disgrace for a farmer to buy com, the present state of things in our Southern country would be changed for the better. The King’s creek region of country is thickly set with what is known as Means’s grass. In other sections of the South it bears other names. The history of the introduction of the grass into the South and probably into America is this. About the year 1840, one of the Means family, living in the western portion of Fairfield county, S. C., sent to some region of country bordering on the Baltic sea for some barley seed of a peculiar variety. When the seed was received it was discovered that there were in it some seed of a strange appearance. These seed were planted by Mr. Means in his garden. The spot in which they were planted was carefully prepared and well manured. The few seed sown germinated and the grass did well, attaining the enormous height of seven or eight feet and producing an abundant crop of seed. Mr. Means thought he had found a treasure. All the seed of the first year’s growth was carefully saved and at the proper time sown. These germinated and produced an abundant crop. In about three years the grass took possession of the garden, rooting out everything else. To get rid of it Mr. Means had it dug up and carried out and thrown on a hill side hoping that he was rid of his pet. But to his astonishment and bitter regret every root left in the garden sent up a stalk, and those thrown on the hill side grew, and the seed was washed by the rains down into the bottoms and in a few years the whole plantation and all the plantations in the neighborhood were polluted with the grass. The name Means was given to the grass in honor, or otherwise, of him who accidentally introduced it. Means’s grass was introduced into the wester portion of York county by Jas. A. Black. I do not know how it got into Abbeville county. From Abbeville county it was taken to Alabama by a gentleman by the name of Johnston, where it is called Johnston’s grass. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
JAMES CANSLER OF TIRZAH by Louise Pettus
When James Cansler of Tirzah announced in the winter of 1916 that he was running for a six-year term on the South Carolina Railroad Commission no one was surprised. Cansler had been running for that office “since the time whereof the memoiy of man runneth not to the contrary,” as one newspaper expressed it Cansler had a habit of running every two years for the state post but had gotten so few votes that few people foresaw Cansler’s victory. In truth, there was nothing in Cansler’s past that would have predicted he had any chance of getting such a choice plum. Railroad commissioners had one of the plushest political jobs in the state. Their control of railroads was complete down to the smallest detail. Railroads were quick to offer commissioners private cars with unlimited travel. There was no state ethics commission, either. Cansler was a poor man and had never held a political office. A native of North Carolina, he had arrived at Tirzah, a rural community between Rock Hill and York, in 1877 to teach school. His father, though poor, had been determined that his children receive an education and had boarded school teachers for $3 a month in order to guarantee their instruction. Cansler finished Catawba College. Cansler did manage, on the meager salary of a teacher, to save enough money in 12 years to acquire a small farm. The work must have been hard for him because he had long suffered physical pain which left him crippled for life. Ben Tillman was governor and his dispensary system was in full swing when Cansler first got into politics. The dispensary system was an attempt to control the sale of alcohol by having the state control the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. Cansler was an ardent prohibitionist In 1894 York County citizens went to the polls to decide if their local communities would have state-operated liquor stores. The idea was rejected everywhere except in Tirzah which ended up selling the only legal whiskey in York County. James Cansler’s house sat on the road to the dispensary shop. He was incensed at the sight of “the thirsty” trudging the highway. He fumed for seven years. Finally, in 1901 Cansler circulated a petition to remove the dispensary. His petition first circulated in Tirzah, which had only 11 registered voters, and then all over the county. He got over one thousand signatures. Henry Massey of Rock Hill took Cansler to Columbia to present his petition to the dispensary board. Cansler told the board that if they didn’t act the people of Tirzah would. The board ordered the dispensary closed within 60 days. During his 1916 race for railroad commissioner, one of Cansler’s former pupils wrote about him: “There is nothing negative about him. He has a very high sense of honor and his character is unimpeachable…not a lazy bone…. He has no ffiend to reward, and he is too manly to punish an enemy if he has one.” The letter-writer, who admittedly was not fond of Cansler, added that Cansler was “peculiar and eccentric and undaunted in adversity”. The governor’s race in 1916 was between Richard I. Manning and a former governor, Cole L. Blease. Blease was favored but in the second primary to everyone’s surprise, Manning won 71,463 votes to Blease’s 66,785. Cansler won, too, and by a far greater margin than Manning did over Blease. Cansler defeated incumbent Albert S. Fant by a vote of 83,054 to 54,271. It was hard to believe. The Greenville News commented: “Cansler probably does not know anymore about railroads than we do about farming, but men are not often elected to office in this State on the basis of what they know….may he revel in the plush luxury of his private car and the good things of this life….” On September 12, 1917, the South Carolina Railroad Commission issued Order #169 to the Southern Railway Company. In the order were these words:” ….without further delay, a freight depot at Tirzah, S. C., said depot to be in every way adequate for the demands of the patrons of Southern Railway Company at that point…to be done in 60 days.” James Cansler may not have gotten rich but he did get power.
(Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on June 17, 1891 – “The firm of Troutman, Link, and Co., of Ironton, N.C. proposed to erect a saw and gist mill and cotton gin. Mr. Troutman spent several days here. The site is just opposite the depot from the store of W.T. Massey.
The Yorkville Enquirer of Feb. 20, 1895 – “Reported that the Tirzah Academy was burned. The building was valued at about $300. and the board of trustees will take steps to rebuild.”
The Herald reported on Jan. 18, 1896 – “Ms. Ella Neely has resumed her school duties at Tirzah.”
The Herald reported Aug 19, 1896 – “An attempt was made Monday to break into the dispensary at Tirzah. There were three locks on the front door and only one was broken. The thief obtained tools from the nearly blacksmith shop.”
The Herald reported on Nov. 25, 1896 – “That the county commission will improve the highway from Ebenezer to Tirzah Church. It will be worked by convicts next winter and spring. The citizens of Ebenezer have provided 800 wagon loads of rock for this purpose.”
The Herald reported on Dec. 19, 1896 – “Petitions are being circulated urging the state board of control to close the dispensary at Tirzah.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on May 17, 1904 – “That S. M. Carothers has bought the lot at Tirzah on which the Thomasson Store burned last fall, and has a storehouse almost completed on it and will open soon with a full stock of drygoods and groceries.”
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.