About Pendleton

PENDLETON, S.C. (WSPA)- Pendleton is the oldest town in the Upstate that continues to grow but stays true to its roots.

Let’s take a trip down history lane where agriculture was king and wealthy Charleston families came to vacation.

“Early on it was just a lot of sustenance farming and small farms,” Josh Johnson, the curator of the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina, said.

Cotton farming was a huge part of Pendleton’s history, whether it was small or large plantations.

That changed in 1917 when boll weevils came through the state and wiped out a majority of cotton crops.

Farmers turned to the one thing that kills everything.

“Men would have to put in bricks of arsenic by hand five days a week, twice a day,” Johnson said. “It of course leads to horrible cancer rates.”

Johnson said arsenic still impacts agriculture today because it stays in the soil for a thousand years.

He said it also impacts families to this day and a gentleman that donated a machine to dispense arsenic lost his great-grandmother, grandmother and wife from breast cancer.

A lot of those cotton plants that were eventually wiped out, were made by vacationers from Charleston.

President of the Pendleton Historic Foundation Powell Hickman said, “Charletonians realized they were getting yellow fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the summer.”

According to Hickman, that’s when the people from Charleston would vacation to Pendleton and the Upstate.

“They just knew that if you came up here to the upcountry you didn’t get sick.”

The Pinkney family was one of the wealthiest families who made their way to Pendleton and built the Woodburn House in the mid-1800s which still stands today and left a piece of the low country in the Upstate.

Hickman said, “It’s a hidden jewel in South Carolina and really that Charleston culture was brought up here.”

If you go inside the Woodburn House, a lot of the furnishings are original pieces that were once in the many plantation houses throughout the area in the 1820s and 1930s.

Pendleton’s history is engraved in almost every corner of the town, especially in the vibrant village green that has reinvented itself throughout the years and now serves as a focal point for new and old residents.

“We’ve seen a good bit of growth for one thing,” Mayor Frank Crenshaw said. “At the same time we have been successful in maintaining the historical character of Pendleton and the uniqueness.”

Businesses that stretch across downtown Pendleton represent that.

Restaurants and stores evolved as time passed on, but they remain in those same buildings that represent the history of the oldest town in the upstate.

It’s a history that’s represented across South Carolina.

“If you go throughout the state, you’ll see a Pendleton Road or Pendleton Street almost everywhere you go,” according to Mayor Crenshaw.

While you’ll see the name everywhere you go, there will only be one Pendleton, South Carolina, where the people are friendly and everybody knows everybody.

Learn more about our special guest: