Pickens County, South Carolina

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J. Warren Smith House


The Pickens County Courthouse is located at 222 McDaniel Avenue, Pickens, SC 29671; phone: 864-8787-4753.

Established in 1828, Pickens County was named for Brigadier General Andrew Pickens [1739-1817] who was born in Bucks County, PA. His family moved to frontier land in South Carolina in 1852. During the Revolutionary War he rose from the rank of Captain to Brigadier General. Pickens also served as a South Carolina congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1793-1795.

Beginnings [1]

Pickens County was Cherokee Indian Territory until the American Revolution. The first European settlers to the region were hide and fur traders; mainly Scots-Irish, German, and English. Shortly after the end of the American Revolution and having sided with the British and suffering defeat, the Cherokee surrendered their South Carolina lands.

This settlement area was initially called the Washington District (by State legislature in 1791), and later, the Pendleton District. As the population grew, the Pendleton District was split and the area including present-day Pickens and Oconee Counties was renamed the Pickens District (formed in 1828). The district seat of Pickens District was on the Keowee River.

Forty years after the formation of the Pickens District, in 1868, the South Carolina Constitutional Convention changed the name "district" to "county" throughout the state and established Oconee County out of the portion of the Pickens District west of the Keowee and Seneca rivers. A new courthouse for Pickens County was erected at its present location, Pickens.

During the 1870s, the County voted to issue bonds to construct 27 mile of the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad (now the Norfolk Southern Railroad) through the southern portion of the County. The town of Easley, named for General W.K. Easley, was chartered in 1874. Liberty and Central sprang up along the railroad about the same time and were soon incorporated. Calhoun (now part of Clemson) came into being in the 1890s, to be followed in the early 1900s by Six Mile and Norris as incorporated areas.

A major factor in Pickens County's earlier growth was the coming of the textile industry. The county's first modern cotton mill, organized by D.K Norris, was established at Cateechee in 1895. By 1900, Pickens County boasted three cotton mills, thirty-seven sawmills, ten shingle mills, three roller mills, four brick mills, two railroads and two banks.

Until 1940, Pickens County remained primarily an agricultural and rural county, with most of its citizens involved in the growing of cotton or manufacturing it into cloth. By the end of WWII, manufacturing had replaced agriculture as the leading source of employment. By 1972, there were 99 manufacturing plants and the number of persons employed in manufacturing was almost 15,000.

  1. Pickens County Planning Commission, 2030 Pickens County: A Comprehensive Plan, draft, www.2030pickenscounty.com, accessed April, 2011.


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