“An architectural masterpiece of early 19th century construction.”
City Directories and History: (Elliott White Springs House) The William Elliott White House was built in 1831 by Thomas B. Hoover, a York County contractor, for
William Elliott White. The two-story brick house is architecturally significant for its upcountry adaptation of Federal design elements. The formal symmetry of the façade, the tall proportions and slender mullions of the windows, and the elegant south portico are typical of the style. The expression of this high-style design in the then relatively undeveloped north central part of the state, as well as the high quality craftsmanship of the brick and plaster work, are noteworthy. In addition, the house has historical significance as one
of the sites of what is believed to have been the last full meeting of the Cabinet of the Confederate States of America. In the twentieth century, the house was the home of Elliott White Springs, South Carolina textile magnate. Springs added the east wing in 1922, the west wing in 1936, and the greenhouse/pool in 1955. He owned the Springs mills, one of the most successful textile organizations in the Southeast. Springs was also a writer of short stories in the 1920s and 1930s that popularized the adventures of American and British pilots of World War I and told tales of the “lost generation” that attempted to adjust to modern life after the war ended. Listed in the National Register March 22, 1987. [Courtesy of the S.C. Dept. of Archives and History]
Thomas B. Hoover of York, S.C. was a successful builder of both frame and brick upscale dwellings in the first thirty-five years of the 19th century. In 1820 he reported the manufacture and sale of 170,000 brick at $6. per thousand. This along was a substantial income for the period. Another document shows him being paid $30. for Thomas Roach’s funeral casket in 1824. His business thrived after this and included construction of expensive coffins, public buildings, his own home, and the magnificent White Homestead in Fort Mill, S.C. Documents show Hoover manufactured brick for the house at a rate of over 500,000 and needing to acquire additional brick molds for the home in 1830-31. In July, Thomas Hoover purchased “6 pr. (English) Brick Moulds of Steele ….$32.02” from the estate of Robert Clendenin. When the home was complete, Hoover was paid a total of $5,000. for both
the stone, brick, and other work in finishing the dwelling. The four story house was restored in the 1990’s and remains an outstanding example of Georgian architecture, a rarity in South Carolina’s Piedmont
during the 19th century. This house was his crowning achievement but his own home in downtown York remains one of outstanding proportions and workmanship.
Historian Wm. B. White, Jr. wrote – “When Thomas B. Hoover came to town to help build the 1824 courthouse (the third courthouse), the way was open for future brick structures. He was an energetic, skilled contractor from Burke County, N.C., whose memory should be honored today for his helping to give Yorkville its first attractive public buildings and residences.’ Not enough has been made of Hoover’s contributions and his profound influence in improving the appearance ofthe trifling village of Yorkville. Before 1800 Yorkville consisted of about a dozen small frame and log structures, exclusive of a courthouse and a jail (gaol), and of several dozen inhabitants. That is all. Fame and fortune and architectural distinction came some twenty-five years later with the advent of well-educated clergymen, lawyers, merchants, writers, and teachers —and Thomas B. Hoover, master-builder.” Information from: The Genesis of York, by Wm. B. White, Jr., Yorkville Historical Society, 2015 – Jostens Publishing Company *** R&R has documented Mr. Hoover as having resided locally prior to the date given by Mr. White
FORT MILL HAD A FOUNDER by Louise Pettus
There is no tradition of a “founding father” of Fort Mill but, if the town should ever find itself in need of one, the best candidate for that title would be William Elliott White. The reason is simple. White was one of the supporters of the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta (CC&A) Railroad and White’s land housed the depot, which was built in 1852. A depot stimulated a demand for business
lots nearby, and White owned the land now called downtown Fort Mill. The first business house actually preceded the depot. It was built by White in January of 1851 and was rented to Bamhardt, Coltharp and Co. For many years this building was known as “White’s Old Store.” The second store was operated by a cousin, John D. White. Unfortunately for John White, he made the mistake of moving to Texas, where he was murdered by “highwaymen” some time before the Civil War. Between the construction of the first two stores, there was a home built by Owen Matthews. After John White’s store, the fourth building was another residence. It was built by Dr. Benjamin Morris Cobb. He wasn’t the first doctor in the area, but he was the first to live in the village. Next was another store, this one called Morrow and Potts. In 1854 that store had the distinction of being the first building in town to bum down. By the time the Civil War broke out, there were additional stores and homes, all of the land being sold to newcomers by William Elliott White. The land for the village was only a small part of White’s total acreage. The Agricultural Census of 1850 showed that White owned 3,026 acres, of which only 750 acres were in crops. The origin of his landholding stretched back to his grandfather, William Elliott. Elliott was one of the first settlers to lease land from the Catawba Indians, along with Thomas “Kanawha” Spratt, the Erwins, and the Barnetts (Elliott married Mary Barnett, granddaughter of Thomas Spratt).That was in the mid 1760’s, right after the end of the French and Indian War. William Elliott’s daughter Martha married Capt. Joseph White and they had one child, William Elliott White, bom in 1803. Captain White died the following year. Martha Elliott White died in 1819 at the age of 44, leaving her son, still a minor, an estate valued at more than $23,000. The estate included 697 acres in two tracts leased from the Catawba Indians. One of the plats showed the Old Unity cemetery and land that it is undoubtedly where William Elliott White built the depot and the downtown Fort Mill buildings. Before he was 21 years old, White also inherited one-third of the estate of his uncle, Samuel Elliott. On his uncle’s leased land, White built a fine home in 1831, now a Fort Mill landmark known as the White Homestead. At the White Homestead in the spring of 1865, William Elliott White hosted Jefferson Davis and the members of the Confederate cabinet on their flight from Richmond, VA. William Elliott White and his wife Sarah Robinson Wilson had nine children— five sons and four daughters. The best known of the children was Samuel Elliott White, who founded Fort Mill Manufacturing Co., the first mill of the Springs Industries textile empire. White and his wife moved to Charlotte in 1857. Mrs. White died there in 1864 and in 1866 White was buried beside her in Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Charlotte.
OLD WHITE HOMESTEAD GOES TO CAPT. WHITE’S GRANDSON
“Considerable interest attaches locally to the distribution of the valuable estate of the late Capt. S. E. White who died at the home of his son-in-law, Col. Leroy Springs, in Lancaster [March 4, 1911]
To Elliott White Springs is given the old White homestead, comprising the historic old mansion and 500 acres of land surrounding it. The mansion was built in 1832 by the father of Capt. White, William White. It is a commodious two-story building, built of brick imported from England, and is situated in a Capt. Samuel Catawba Lowry was killed in the explosion at the Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864. Called “the boy Captain,” Samuel was only 19 and 1/2 years old at the time of his death.
beautiful grove a few hundred yards from the corporate limits of Fort Mill. For many years before and a few years after the War Between the States, the mansion was noted throughout the upper section of the State for the lavish hospitality dispensed within its walls. In it President Jefferson Davis was entertained a few days after the fall of the Confederacy at Richmond and in the shade of one of the beautiful oaks on the lawn his last full cabinet meeting was held. In recent years the old mansion has been used as a boarding house and there is now about the place little to mark it as the former home of Southern culture and refinement.
“Interesting objects to many who visit the grounds of the old White mansion are a millstone and cannon ball which partly cover the spring, 200 yards in the rear of the house. The millstone was used years ago at the old White mill, two miles east of town, and the cannon ball was found near the Catawba river, a short distance south of town, where it is thought to have been left by Yankee troops during the war. Some years ago Capt. White had the millstone moved to the grounds and laid in mortar and cement as a partial covering for the old spring. Securely fastened in the aperture in the centre of the millstone is the cannon ball, on which is inscribed the names of the various owners of the homestead since a remote ancestor of Capt. White acquired it from the Indians 171 years ago….. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
The Jefferson Davis Trail: retraces the flight of the President of the Confederacy through South Carolina after the fall of Richmond in 1865. On the night of April 2, 1865, the Confederate Government evacuated Richmond, Virginia, when defense of the Confederacy capital became impossible. In the following weeks, the surrender of Confederate armies in Virginia and North Carolina forced President Jefferson Davis with his cabinet and military escort to retreat further south.
From April 26 to May 3, 1865, Davis and his party traveled southwesterly through the Piedmont region of South Carolina, where they were hospitably received by people of the area. The country through which they passed had escaped much of the destruction of the war and members of Davis’ staff long remembered the well kept gardens along the road and the people in small towns and hamlets who greeted the President wherever he went, offering flowers and strawberries, prayers and kind wishes.
Davis still refused to believe the Confederate cause was hopeless, but his generals finally persuaded him to accept reality. At a Council of War, held at Abbeville, South Carolina, on May 2, 1865, it was decided to abandon any purpose except President Davis’s escape across the Mississippi River. The party began to disperse after leaving Abbeville, with Davis and a small escort group traveling south into Georgia. One week later, in the early morning of May 10, 1865, Davis and his companions were captured by Federal troops near Irwinville, Georgia. (Information courtesy of the SC Trail Routes – SC Dept. of Archives and History)
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