WILLIAMSTON, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s called the “Saratoga of the South” and for good reason because of the spring.
The spring brought people to the area because of its possible healing qualities.
Williamston’s history starts with a man named West Allen Williams who was a popular landowner in the area at that time.
“Legend has it West Allen Williams was riding his horse one day and became tired, weary and thirsty,” Mayor Rockey Burgess said. When Williams fell asleep, “he dreamt that there would be a spring coming forth. He awoke and sure enough there was a spring there at his feet.”
That spring turned out to be what started Williamston and one that still sits at Mineral Springs Park.
Mayor Burgess said, “West Allen Williams being the philanthropic guy that he is donated this property to public use.”
The park was founded in 1842, which historians said makes it one of the oldest public parks in the country and “shortly after that the town was incorporated in 1852.”
Many people may wonder how a spring could attract so many people especially enough to build a town around it.
“Rumor got out that there was a spring in Williamston, South Carolina that had medicinal healing qualities,” Mayor Burgess explained. “So, people from New York, people from all over, would come to Williamston and they would come bathe in the spring, drink from the spring.”
Early settlers did believe the spring had healing properties, while it might not cure diseases, there is some truth to it.
“What we found was the water quality was great water quality” Mayor Burgess said. “But it also contained lithium and iron. Well, both of those are, in moderate amounts, are very good for the body.”
After you drink from the spring, you can walk through the park and see that Williams was laid to rest in the place he founded.
“In the 1990s they were able to locate West Allen Williams’ grave and his family members over off of Big Creek Road,” according to Mayor Burgess. “They brought his body here and they have him placed in Mineral Spring Park right out in front directly across from Town Hall.”
Like Mayor Burgess said, it sits across from Town Hall which is another historic location.
“Believe it or not Town Hall used to be the home of Lander University. Dr. Samuel Lander founded Williamston Female College right there at Town Hall.”
The name was changed to Lander University when it was moved to Greenwood and then the building was turned into a high school.
“Mid 80s the town purchased it from the school district and that became the municipal complex,” Mayor Burgess said.
There is still history to be made in Williamston as growth continues to flow into the city.
“Williamston is still a booming community. It was back then, it still is a booming community. We’re trying to manage that growth in a prudent way to where it’s controlled growth but positive and good growth.”
Learn more about our special guests:
- Mayor Rockey Burgess
- Williamston Town Council
- First Responder Friday: Williamston FD, PD
- All About Fabrics
- Envision Williamston
- Palmetto Business Association
- Palmetto Middle School
- Maple Bakery & Coffee House
- Raines In Williamston Bar & Grill
- Spring Water Festival
- Unity Mortuary