History of Spartanburg's Westside

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Compiled by the staff of the Kennedy Room of Local and South Carolina History, 2004
Property of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries; duplication is not permitted without consent.

• Established: 1760s
• Location: Western Spartanburg
• Fun fact: Contains former site of World War I Camp Wadsworth

In the mid-1700s, the Upstate of South Carolina was the frontier. Indian tribes called the region home and non-Indians were scarce. Fleeing the increasingly populated Piedmont and coastal sections, some hardy white adventurers began to look toward the Appalachian Mountains for virgin land and to distance themselves from British oversight.

The western side of what became Spartanburg is one place that drew these mainly Scots-Irish immigrants. Growth of a settlement from a frontier outpost to a fledgling community typically required several necessities: a nearby source of water, rich land and a decent road.

The Tyger River and Fairforest and Lawson’s Fork creeks feed into western Spartanburg, enriching the soil and the residents. One road into the area had been tramped down by Indians and traders long before the arrival of white settlers: the Blackstock Road. Running from the foothills near the present town of Tryon, N.C., crossing the Tyger River at Blackstock Ford and running through the present communities of Roebuck and Fairforest, Blackstock Road provided the perfect path for whites trickling into the region.

The Indians were not prepared to give up their homeland to the white interlopers without a fight. The frontier still was a dangerous place, and forts began to pop up along this western frontier. Fort Prince and Wood’s Fort were two such fortifications built to protect white settlers in the area.

In 1776, a general Indian uprising shook the border as warriors struck en masse along the frontier. One family caught in this maelstrom of violence was that of Indian trader Preston Hampton. Preston was the son of Anthony Hampton, a recent settler who had moved with his son-in-law’s family from North Carolina and settled along the Tyger River. Preston had been trading among the Indians when he learned of their plans. He was taken prisoner but managed to escape. Fleeing home to raise the alarm, the Hamptons hurriedly gathered some belongings and prepared to run to the nearest fort. The Indians attacked before they could flee, and a massacre of men, women and children ensued with only a few managing to survive.

Colonists all along the western frontier raised a large militia, which pursued the Indian army. As was often the case when European and Indian cultures clashed, many noncombatants suffered. The white militia destroyed scores of Cherokee villages and by mid-1777, Indian aggression collapsed. A treaty was signed in July 1777 forcing the Cherokee to relinquish most of their lands in the Carolinas.

As frontiersmen begin to settle into their new homeland, a second wave of necessities occurs. With physical needs met, the soul and the mind need nourishment. Nazareth Presbyterian Church became the first permanent organization in the district when it was organized in 1772. The church cemetery now contains a bevy of graves from the colonial and Revolutionary War eras.

By 1778, Samuel Noblit taught school in the Fairforest settlement with terms that ran from August through late December. Other early schools include the Eustatie School and the Minerva School, both founded by a philanthropic arm of the Nazareth congregation.

Today, the western part of Spartanburg thrives with a large business district, built partially on the site of the former World War I Camp Wadsworth, and a major portion of the town’s residential population.