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Abney Mill — Anderson, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Anderson County  |  Abney Mill

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Abney Mill

This deteriorating textile mill was the first cotton manufacturing plant established in Anderson. Founded in 1888 as Anderson Cotton Mills, it began operations in 1890 using steam power.

Anderson Cotton Mill Tower

Jo Anne Keasler of Greenville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1894 Anderson native William C. Whitner installed a 5,000-volt alternating current generator along High Shoals in the Rocky River to power water pumps for the Anderson Water, Light and Power Company. Following the success of the generator, in 1897, Whitner designed a 10,000-volt generator along Portman Shoals on the Seneca River.

Abney Mill Tower

Robert Nix, Nix Aerial Solutions of Easley, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The power station, located 11 miles from town, then began powering the Anderson Cotton Mill, which became the first textile mill in the South to receive electricity transmitted over long-distance power lines from a commercial generator. (However, a year earlier – in 1896 – nearby Pelzer Mill was the first mill to receive electricity transmitted through a cable. The power plant supplying Pelzer Mill with electricity was four miles away from the mill.)

Abney Mill

Pete Lawrence of Sumter, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Anderson Cotton Mill was later purchased by Greenwood textile magnate John Pope Abney, who also acquired several other South Carolina textile plants, including Newry Mill in Oconee County. The Embler Home, which housed the mill’s supervisor, stood across from the plant throughout the twentieth century. Sadly, the Embler Home burned in 2015.

Anderson Cotton Mill

John Jensen of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Following Abney’s death in 1942, F.E. Grier took over the textile factory, as per Abney’s wishes. He then renamed several plants “Abney Mills,” including Anderson Cotton Mill. Abney Mills in Anderson closed in 1991 after a century of production. However charitable foundation started in 1957 by Abney’s wife, Susie Matthews Abney, continues to award grants to serve communities throughout South Carolina long after her death in 1969.

Reflections on the Anderson Cotton Mill

Lynn McKinney McDaniel, who contributed the historic photo below, writes, “I found this picture in my grandmother’s collection. It is an undated photo of the Abney weave room, likely between 1940-1950 when my grandfather, B.F. Hollingsworth, was working there. My mother and aunt, Mary Hollingsworth McKinney and Nellie Sue Hollingsworth Kinley, identified it. They worked there as teenagers in the 1950s.”

Anderson Mill Abney Weave Room

Lynn McKinney McDaniel of Anderson, c. 1940-1950 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Abney Mill Info

Address: Glenn Street, Anderson, SC 29625
GPS Coordinates: 34.506301,-82.657111

Abney Mill Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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10 Comments about Abney Mill

Marion Roach says:
August 3rd, 2019 at 8:53 am

Does anyone have a picture of the first shift of the Anderson Plant? It was made on December 1, 1954. I found the third shift in my sister’s things (Jimmie Faye Roach Crocker). My friend, Barbara Dune Black, had the second shift. I just need the first. Thanks!

SC Picture Project says:
May 5th, 2019 at 8:39 am

We would love that, it sounds fascinating!

Horace Shelton Patterson says:
May 4th, 2019 at 5:21 pm

I was born at 39 D Street in 1931. We lived there until 1939. I am writing a history of those years for my niece as I remember it. I may share later.

Brayden Sherman says:
April 14th, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Does anyone know when the mill burned down?

SCIWAY says:
May 26th, 2018 at 12:00 pm

What a great life, thank you so much for sharing your memories with us! What was your favorite thing at the mill as a kid?

Jason C.C.C. Treadway says:
May 26th, 2018 at 6:05 am

I lived with my grandparents on G Street until I was six years old, then I stayed with them every summer until I was 11. The old mill was the heart of the community, walked by it many times, visited the old company store many times with my grandmother. Very fond memories!

I wandered as an adult, living in NYC (worked on Wall Street) and lived worked many years in Washington, D.C. as a lawyer but I never lost my early Abney memories. Sometimes I try to recall and relive those memories.

Miriam Abney says:
August 4th, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Thank you for sharing, John Pope Abney was my Great Grandfather. I am always fascinated to learn more about the mills and to see such wonderful pictures!

Emma Dalrymple says:
September 1st, 2016 at 9:40 pm

I am not a native of Anderson (a northern-born Yankee with Anderson roots), but I have lived in the mill hill area for several years now, love it. I do enjoy seeing all the photos of how things were, years ago. PLEASE keep sharing the pics and oral histories. I enjoy reading about what life here was like, years ago.

SCIWAY says:
March 29th, 2016 at 7:47 am

Feel free to copy the link and share on Facebook!

Lecey Wood says:
March 28th, 2016 at 2:37 am

Why can’t we share these pictures on Facebook????


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