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Pelzer Mill Companies

Pelzer Manufacturing Company 1881 - 1923

In the 1880s, industrialist Captain Ellison A. Smyth, Francis J. Pelzer and others bought a large tract of land on the Saluda River in Anderson County called Wilson's Bridge. The land was near the Columbia & Greenville Railroad and the river provided an excellent source of power to drive the mills. They established the Pelzer Manufacturing Company with a capital stock of $400,000 in 1880 and would build the mill town Pelzer after F. J. Pelzer. Ellison A. Smyth was chosen as the president and treasurer of the Pelzer Company and later became a pioneer of textile technology around the turn-of-the-century. The Lockwood, Greene &Company was chosen to design the mills with construction of the first mill, dam and company housing beginning in 1881. Completed in 1882, additional mills were soon built. A second mill was complete in 1885, a third in 1888 and a fourth in 1895. Also in 1895, Pelzer Company's Mill No. 4 was the first mill driven by long-distance transmitted electricity and first to have General Electric incandescent lighting installed.

Under Ellison A. Smyth, the Pelzer Company improved the mill workers lives with schools, churches, library, theater, a park and other improvements. The town of Pelzer became known as a 'model mill town' and pioneered in modern cotton mill innovations at its time. Many other Southern cotton mill owners visited and based their mill communities around Pelzer's example. Pelzer became home of the largest cotton mills in the world and at its height in 1920, operated 136000 spindles and looms.

Ellison A. Smyth sold the Pelzer Manufacturing Co. and its stock and property to the Lockwood, Greene & Co. in August 1923 for around $9,000,000.










Jeffrey Kraemer. E-mail: th9200jk@aol.com