[ William King Easley ] [ afiles of America: Easley ] [ Historical Photos ]
What is now Pickens County was mostly wilderness 300
years ago. It first was settled primarily by the Cherokee Indians in the
area that now is under Lake Keowee.
Easley was named after Confederate
Gen. William King Easley. In the late 1800s, Easley persuaded officials
from the Charlotte-to-Atlanta Airline Railroad to lay a track through the town.
The town of Easley was surveyed and lots sold on August 3, 1873,
shortly after the railroad was finished. A charter was granted
immediately afterward, the town site being on half mile square. R. E.
Holcombe was elected Intendant (Mayor). The arrival of the railroad helped fuel development of the textile industry in
As the textile industry began to take shape in the area,
Clemson Agricultural College was established at the southwest corner of the
county. Clemson opened its doors to 446 male cadets in 1893.
early 1960s the first of a trio of large reservoirs was developed, with the U.S.
Corps of Engineers completing
U.S. Corps of Engineers completing
Hartwell Dam on the Savannah River. The dam
created Hartwell Lake, which borders Clemson.
Then in the 1970s
Duke Power purchased land in northern Pickens and Oconee counties that led
to the construction of
Duke's Oconee Nuclear Station
which began producing
electric power in 1973.
Pickens County Library System has posted historical
photos from Easley's past on flickr.
from the book cover synopsis "afiles of America: Easley" (used with
Born of the Industrial Revolution, the City of Easley was begun
with a single rail line brought to the area by Robert Elliot
Holcombe in the mid 1800’s with his promise to build and donate
the first depot. That single line expanded and the cotton
started to roll in, spawning the textile industrial culture so
prominent to small Southern towns. If it was industry that
gave birth to Easley, it was the perfect location amidst the
breathtaking beauty in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains
and a feeling more akin to family than simple community that gave the town life. Minutes from gorgeous mountain vistas and
lakes, a few minutes more from larger cities and a days’ ride up from the coast made Easley a perfect place to live, work,
worship and play year round.
The photographs and illustrations included within this book
demonstrate the unique growth of a once one- square-mile
township named for General William K. Easley, to town comprised of
the several interdependent mill villages; each with its
own culture, churches, schools and families, to the thriving city
of today – rich in history and full of promise for an even
greater future. Through the pages of this volume the author,
journalist and hometown girl, Brantli Jane Owens, continues to
document and bear witness to the evolution of Easley as her family
has done for over 100 years.
The area upon which the City of Easley is situated was once part of the great
"President Andrew Jackson, whose command and life was saved due to 500 Cherokee allies at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in
1814, unbelievably authorized the Indian Removal Act of 1830".
wasn’t until 1786, after the Cherokees were driven from their
South Carolina homes, that the area was open for settlement.
The birth of Easley can be recalled in history books along with
bench-mark dates such as the building of the Golden Creek
Mill in 1825 and accounts of General William King Easley’s
influence to establish the location of the railroad station in
Easley in 1874.
The advent of the railroad helped fuel the development of the
textile industry in the area; cotton was king and the textile
industry was the backbone of the growing economy. The town was
founded months after the railroad’s arrival in 1874, and was
incorporated in 1901. The railroad transformed Main Street into a
bustling business center and invited new industries to the
area. Easley Textile Company, later known as Swirl Inc., came to
Easley in 1953 bringing jobs, a boost for the economy,
and the popular “Swirl” wrap dress. In 1956 Saco Lowell,
manufacturer of yarn production equipment, also built a plant in
Easley. Infrastructure of the town expanded; the US Army Corps of
Engineers built dams, forming nearby lakes for recreation;
and the construction of U.S.. Highway 123, remembered by some as
“The Bypass,” brought new business
and retail to the City of Easley.
Although much of Easley’s history can only be recalled in history
books, vintage photographs, or by the few living residents
who remember the town’s first hospital, department store and
country shopping center, what all Easley residents do know is
that they have a colorful past and a future to mold. (used
permission from the City of Easley)