Bivingsville Manufacturing Company -
1830 - 1876
The forerunner of Glendale Mills, Bivingsville Manufacturing Co.
(Bivingsville Cotton Factory as it was also called) was founded
by Dr. James Bivings who was born April 28,1787 in Edenton, North
Carolina. He was a Medical Doctor who had become infatuated by the
textile manufacturing process. Bringing with him from Lincolnton
N.C. craftsmen needed for the task, he bought land on the banks
of the Lawson Fork river in Spartanburg County in 1830 to build what
was destined to become the oldest continuous operating cotton mill in
Spartanburg county as of 1961. The factory with 1200 spindles and 24
looms was powered by a 26 foot water wheel with a 12 foot breast and
started production about 1835. It was reported that he had the
machinery shipped from New Jersey.
Old timers tell us that Dr. Bivings being a very religious man, on one
occasion stopped the mill asking all employees to attend the revival
which was being held in the village. Along with the mill plant, Dr.
Bivings founded the village of Bivingsville which consisted of some 12
homes, a community church in which old timers said that school
classes were taught during week days, along with a shop or two.
Mr. Bivings built two magnificent houses in Spartanburg County which
stand today. First he built (about 1834-35) a magnificent two and one
half story house located directly in front of the mill composed of
twelve rooms and a full size basement. A huge fire place was located in
After Dr. Bivings had moved to his new home in
Spartanburg(1854) the house in Bivingsville became a boarding house for
a while for
mill officials. Reports are that Dexter Converse, who had come to
Bivingsville in 1855 to be Superintendent of the mill at a salary of
month, boarded in the house. Having been promoted to Manager, Mr.
purchased the Bivings mansion in the late 1850s for his family's home
adding additional room on the side. They remained there until after
the birth of their daughter at which time they moved into their new
in Spartanburg. Since that day, the house has been the home of various
mill officials and a few more boarders. Mr. Jervey DuPre Sr. who came
the mill in 1879 as a sweeper and retired in 1947 as President and
of the company, has told how he boarded in the house for some 12
Steam heat was put in the house about 1950. The house stands today,
in poor condition due to neglect. It is one of Spartanburg counties
Dr. Bivings built another two and one half story house on
North Church Street in Spartanburg in 1854 where he lived for a while
before selling to his brother in-law, John Evins shortly after
the civil war and eventually became the home of John’s son, Choice
Evins, Dr. Bivings nephew, who later became President of Glendale
Prospering for some 10-15 years the factory fell into serious trouble
in an economy crash at which time Dr. Bivings divested himself of all
interest in the Bivingsville Mill. Dr. Bivings went on to build the
Crawfordsville Mill (later changed to Fairmont) which was reported as
being “very prosperous.” Dr. Bivings died August 16, 1869
and was buried in the Fairmont Methodist cemetery,
Fairmont, South Carolina not far from the mill he had founded. Recent
research has discovered the full text of Dr. Bivings' obituary as
several publications in 1869. You can read this at Dr. Bivings Obituary.
(Special note; I have just talked to a 89 year old gentleman
today (May 26.2009) who is a trustee of the Church where Dr. Bivings is
buried. He related to me that Dr.Bivings had built a
large two story house in the Fairmont vicinity known as “the Bivings
house” which burned down one night, a few years ago. He also said that
Dr. Bivings was known to take his horse and buggy to visit the sick in
their homes in the community of Fairmont.)
After Dr. Bivings - 1854 -1876
Having left control of the Bivingsville
mill to Silas C. Leitner who had been his partner, with the
economy worsening and finding himself in a hopeless situation by ever
increasing debts, Mr. Leitner left town in early 1855, leaving the mill
in bankruptcy to be sold in a Sheriff's sale.
Forming an association among themselves
with a capital of some $30,000.00, J. Bomar, Simpson Bobo, S.N. Evins,
Vardry McBee, J.C. Zimmerman and Dexter Converse bought the plant
for $19,500 in 1856 and operated for a number of years under the name
J.Bomar & Company with Dexter Converse serving as Manager. A copy
association along with a picture of the Bivingsville Mill was hanging
in the mill office at Glendale the last time I remember seeing it. When
the Civil War broke out, some being suspicious of a Yankee being in
Mr. Converse and Mr. Twichell, his brother in-law who had come from
in 1859 to be bookkeeper in the Bivingsville mill, volunteered for the
Confederate army but was released in about six months being given an
discharge by Gen. Robert E. Lee to return to the mill which was
material for the Confederate army. Along with war necessities, swords,
knives and uniform material, the mill was also producing shoes with
Following Mr. Bomar’s death, (1868)
was promoted to President. Having reorganized by 1875, the
had some 5,000 spindles, 120 looms, 175 employees, a grist mill, saw
cotton gin, machine shop and it is believed that a community building
a mill store had been added. The village had become the show place of
county. In 1876 Dexter Converse, A.H. Twichell and J.C. Zimmerman
interest of the others, changing the name to “The D.E. Converse Company”.The
to Glendale at the suggestion of Mrs.
Converse and the Post-office name was changed in 1878.
The D.E.Converse Company
Glendale Mills 1946- 1961
The D.E. Converse Company was sold in 1946 to J. L. Stifel and
Sons, Warren Chaffin, President. The name was changed to
Glendale Mills in keeping with the village name. Mr. Jervey DuPre Sr.
who had bought his first car from Sears Roebuck Co. in 1909, and had
at the mill since 1879, had been promoted to President and Treasurer of
the company and remained such until 1947 when he retired from the
Mr. Louis deLoach, from Springs Cotton Mills, came to Glendale in 1947
as V.P. and General Manager. Shortly after his arrival, Mr. deLoach
a million and half dollar improvement program destined to change the
village and it’s people for life. Dexter E. Converse, born in 1828 in
Vermont worked in the cotton mills of Canada before moving to
Lincolnton, N.C. from whence he came to Bivingsville, S.C. to become
Superintendent of the Bivingsville Cotton Factory in 1855. He married
his 17 year old first cousin, Helen Twichell from New York in 1855.
Having partnered with
A.H. Twichell, his brother in-law, and J.C. Zimmerman to buy the
of all others in the mill, they incorporated the Company as,“The D.E.
Converse Company” in 1889 naming Mr. Converse President.
Under the leadership of Mr. Converse, the
mill continued to grow and prosper. In 1890 the company had added a
three story building to the complex adding some 12,000 spindles. The
village had some 75 houses. Being a real genius in textile
management and finances, Mr. Converse with his partners,built and
founded Clifton No. 1 Mill in 1880. In 1888 they built and
founded Clifton No.2 and in 1896, just three years before his death,
they built and founded Converse Mill. A news release showed he was a
stockholder in the Pacolet, Whitney and Spartan
Before his death, Mr. Converse and some
business partners having a desire for an institution in which their
daughters could be schooled, founded the college for girls which was to
be known as Converse College.(1889) The auditorium was named “the
Twichell Auditorium” in honor of his wife’s (Helen Twichell) family
name. Mr. Converse served as President of the Board of Directors for
some ten years and it is said that he made up school budget deficits
out of his own pocket for the first few years. Shortly before his death
he had built a home on Pine street in Spartanburg where he died on Oct.
4, 1899, a “modest and much
Mr. Twichell had built across the street
at the right of the Bivings mansion in Glendale, a beautiful, spacious
home for him and his family where they lived until they too, built and
moved into their new home on Pine street in Spartanburg, S.C. in 1882.
Mr. Converse’s death left Mr. Twichell as President. Under the
leadership of Mr. Twichell a third building (five story) was built in
1902 having both water and steam power, adding 20,000 more spindles.
Mr. S. Jervey Dupre, who went to work at
D.E. Converse Co in 1879 as a sweeper and became Company President and
treasurer confirms these figures in an interview which he gave at
a later date. Mr. W.E. Lindsey became president in 1916. S.
Jervey Dupre was secretary, R.F.(Fred) Bagwell had become
Superintendent in 1914
and served in that capacity until 1944. Albert Brown was card room
supervisor, Will Rogers was boss spinner, Walter Gregory was over the
old mill weaving and Benard White was over the new mill weave
room. I. B. Rhinehart supervised the cloth room and J. T. Varner,
(my Uncle) was Master Mechanic. In commenting about the loyalty of the
employees and their satisfaction with their homes, Mr. Lindsey
said; ”the people love to live here, they seldom leave and when they
do. they are sure to come back”
A 1922 report showed the mill having 38,000 spindles. (I suppose this
included the 1200 in the original mill) It had some 350 employees with
a weekly payroll of $4,000.00. There were 130 homes in the community
which had both water and electricity. Benard White became
Superintendent in 1944 and continued until 1952.
Men who served as President of D.E. Converse Company were: Dexter Edgar
Converse, 1889-99; Albert H. Twichell, 1899-1916, brother in-law to Mr.
Converse; W.E. Lindsey 1916-28; J.Choice Evins,1928-45, nephew to Dr.
Bivings founder of Bivingsville Cotton Mill; S.Jervey Dupre,
Click on this link, Presidents, to read
information about these men.
I was serving as Glendale Postmaster in 1948 when Mr. deLoach
approached me about joining the company as Personnel Consultant/General
Manager of the Mill Store and it’s concessions. After considering the
options before me and experiencing his enthusiasm, I joined the company
also taking Supervision of the engineering and mechanical
department at a later date reporting directly to Mr. deLoach.
Wishing to keep both written and photographic records of the progress,
he and I both took dozens of pictures along with keeping
records of the work being done. On February 26,1948 the Mill office was
robbed of payroll money in the amount of $18,000.00. Claude Manis
was caught in Tennessee and returned to Spartanburg to be charged and
convicted of the crime. After five years of hard work, the program was
basically finished. An Allison fence was now enclosing the plant.
A two story 20,000 square foot carding and spinning addition had
built adding 8,000 spindles,4,500 twisters, 23 cards and 27 combers.
The plant had been renovated from bottom to top, the interior having
been painted throughout. Every piece of cloth producing machinery had
been moved, centralized to individual departments. A new automatic high
speed elevator had been installed between mill 2 & 3.
Fluorescent lights were added, looms had been motorized. A new electric
control room had been built and new switchboards had been installed in
order to receive and handle the additional power from Duke Power Co.
needed for the mill and the remodeled houses.
The water wheel, generator and steam engines which had furnished power
for the mill since 1903 and before, along with the obsolete
belt drives, had been taken out with all machines having been
motorized.(1950). Oil fired boilers were installed in 1951.Obsolete
equipment had been
replaced with new modern equipment. Worn equipment had been
or replaced. A new 180 spindle automatic spooler and
cleaning system had been added. A canteen serving hot and cold
etc, had been built and in operation. A new one floor weave room for
combed material was being built and added to the end of the plant
next to the office. (1953-54). At this time the Glendale plant
had some 45,000 spindles and 1019 looms with some 600 full time mill
employees and some 200 temporary workers for renovation and
A bonus system based on one’s longevity with the mill had been set up.
Large Christmas bags containing apples, oranges, nuts, candies,
cookies, pop corn and fruit cakes weighing a total of some 30
pounds were distributed to every employee each Christmas. Fourth
of July celebrations were being observed with food, fun
and games each year. Glendale Mills had also purchased and were
operating Douglasville Mills, Douglasville, Ga.
Mill Office Robbery
In 1948, Glendale Mills was the
victim of one of the largest robberies ever to take place in the
Upstate. Read the full details at Mill Office
Glendale Mill Village Improvements
A new gymnasium had been built. The old community
building was torn down being replaced by a large gymnasium in which
the post-office, barber shop with hot and cold showers, a shoe shop,
cafe and magistrate office along with a large recreation area were
in the basement. Sports teams were being sponsored by the Mill company
along with a Boy Scout troop. The streets which were once covered with
cinders were now paved and renamed, twisting among a village of
some 118 houses, four churches, three parsonages, 1 school,
a large mill store, gymnasium, three water tanks, a new post-office and
the first community cemetery.
The little village which started as
Bivingsville in 1832 with twelve houses, a community church and a shop
or two had by 1946 become a community of 158 houses with some 800
residents. A mill store had been added in the late 1800s along with a
large community building in which school classes were taught for a
while and other community activities were held. The post-office, barber
shop, shoe shop and a
small lunch room were also located in the building. Though the
mill store had been replaced in 1903 and in moderate shape, and a
brick school had been built and four church buildings added, most
all village houses were in poor shape, badly in need of
renovation. The village houses had electricity and running water but
none had provision
for hot water heaters or stoves in that the houses had only 110 volts
electricity which was insufficient for either. Most all had bath rooms
consisting of an old type commode with the water tank mounted above the
commode. Of the 158 houses, some had been moved with 40 having
torn down leaving some 118 to be repaired. All had been renovated
adding new modern bathrooms with hot water heaters with 220 volt
service. Two clothes closets had been added to most six room houses.
The water system had been updated with 5 new wells and an
additional 60,000 gallon water storage tank having been added. New
sewer lines had been installed throughout the village with raw sewage
being collected in a large treatment tank and drying bed behind the
mill instead of emptying raw into the river as it had for years.
was among the first of the old mill plants to make this change which
a statewide concern and I was invited to speak before a committee of
State legislature in Columbia about our project.
The Mill store had been remodeled. Rest rooms had
been added and a short order Cafe was in place in the new
gymnasium. Steam heat had been installed in the Store and the
Gymnasium. Duke power was readying to take charge of the power supply
to all homes. Shortly thereafter, Spartanburg Water and Sewer
Department took charge of the water and sewer systems. A lunch room had
been added to the school building by the company, giving the
students a nice place to eat their lunches.
Mr. deLoach had been promoted to Executive VP and
General Manager in October 1951 and to be sure, had made his imprint on
both the mill and the village. In 1955-56 the houses were sold with
employees having first choice. According to my records, when I joined
the company they owned 154 houses in the village, 4 in adjacent areas
for a total of 158 with some 70 being duplex having two families per
for a total of some 8 to 900 residents. We had torn down 40 leaving 118
homes to be sold. Of those 118 some 60 were 6 room duplex with
40 or more having two family residents meaning that some 6 to 700
were living on the village at the time the houses were to be sold. Of
the family with the longest tenure with the mill had first choice of
purchase. To my knowledge, every family wishing to buy a home was
able to do so. While some paid cash, financial arrangements had
been made for employees to purchase their home on installments if
and when needed. The average house sold in the price range of 3 to 5
thousand dollars. (See receipt for
The Mill is Sold
The mill was sold through a merger with Indian Head Mills in
1957 and Mr. deLoach announced his resignation, effective immediately.
He and his family were among the finest families I have ever known and
he was the best and most considerate boss I ever worked with. He was
strictly professional. One of the first things he said in hiring me
was, Clarence, “we want to see that everyone is treated fair”. While
touring the plant together he would not allow me to even
buy him a coke from a machine or in the canteen lest someone get the
we were getting too close and would not be objective in our individual
opinions. He was boss and called the shots and I always appreciated and
respected that fact. He was a genuine southern Christian
gentlemen. Local officials of Glendale Mills were:
Mr. Louis deLoach, Exc. Vice President/General Manager;
H.B.White,Supt,1944-1949; E.D. Bagwell, Supt.1949-1951; J.B. Lanford,
Shortly after Mr. deLoach‘s departure, with Indian Head bringing in
their own team, I was relieved of all responsibilities in the mill and
village but asked to stay on as store and concessions Manager. The
store was closed in 1958 and I left the company. Following Mr.
death, his daughter gave me many, if not most, of his pictures along
other material on Glendale. I have used that along with data
I personally had, in creating this story on the
history of Glendale Mills.
Personal Note about Crocker Family Connection to the
Textile Mill at Glendale The above story and photos about the
mill's history were furnished by Mr.
Crocker, a life long Glendale resident, in May,
According to our family records, my great grandfather
worked in BivingsvilleCotton Mills shortly after it started production
in 1835 and was among the first to live in the village. My grandfather
who was born at his home on Broadway street in Bivingsville helped
start the first drill loom in the plant and was boss weaver for many
years. My dad worked in the mill most of his life and when I left, it
was the first time since the early days of it’s beginning (1835) that a
member of my family was not employed by Glendale Mills or it’s
Footnote: Many things
have happened since 1958 which have changed Glendale and it’s people.
The mill stopped
production in 1961, shutting it’s doors. This left the people of the
community without employment. Some were able to find work in plants
nearby and were able to keep their homes. Some sold their homes and
moved away. From the day it closed until the plant was destroyed by
fire (March 21, 2004) the property had changed hands three or four
finally becoming just a warehouse. Needless to say, this has had a
devastating effect on the people and the community. Some houses are
have been torn down and some are being poorly maintained . Though
interventions have begun to restore the community, the fact is that the
community of the fifties of kind, hard working friends which we all
loved and enjoyed, to our dismay, no longer exists.
Mill Ruins Today
(Photo courtesy of Jim Cody)