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          Abner A. Bristow, merchant and board of trade president, was born in Bennettsville of Marlboro county, South Carolina, on April 22, 1854. His parents were Abner Nash and Ann Elizabeth Bristow. His father was a merchant and for some time held the office of judge of probate for Marlboro county. He was noted for earnest purpose and devotion to his home and friends. In religion hw was a Baptist, and for many years he served the local church of that demonination, in which he held the office of decon, with great fidelity. The first ancestors of the Bristow family came from England and Wales. Like their descendants they were prominently the intellectual and public life of South Carolina.

        In childhood Abner A. Bristow lived in the village of Bennettsville, where he was born. He was slender but active, and while he was fond of reading, he also was interested in outdoor sports of hunting and fishing. But he always had regular chores to preform. When he was quite young he was required to work in a large garden, and as he grew older he progressed to various other kinds of farm work. In this way he was taught habits of industry and early rising, and he was led to see that constant unremittive labor is the only way to success. This training also taught him how to cope with difficulties which were caused by the continous changed conditions brought about buy the Civil War. He attended the village school until he was fifteen. The death of his father at this time compelled him to give up all hope of obtaining a public education.

        The section in which he lived had been devastated by the war and he felt that he must find employment that would enable him to support himself and provide aid for his mother and sisters, who were largely dependent on him. His first position was that of clerk in a county store in Marlboro county, where he commenced work in September of 1869. His earnestness and fidelity secured his advancement and led to his connection with some of the leading merchants of the state. In 1877 he went on the road as a representative of a firm of manufacturing clothiers, with great success, as a traveling salesman. On February 1, of 1892, he entered the retail clothing business in Greenville, South Carolina, as a member of the firm of Smith & Bristow, to which largely successed because of his time and ideas. For twenty-eight years he represented the Carolinas, through three manufacturers. Of these, two went out of business. There after, he spent fifteen years traveling for Hamburger Brothers & Company, out of Baltimore, Maryland.

        Mr. Bristow served four terms in one year as president of the Greenville board of Trade. But, as his business required him to be out of the city a large part of the time, he declined re-election. Through the wise and energetic leadership of Mr. Bristow, the board was able to induce various enterprises to locate in Greenville. This secured concessions from the railroads in the matter of freight charges, and obtaining better facilities for travelers. Soon a new passenger station was erected. Mr. Bristow as a director in various industrial companies has greatly helped many young men to secure a good start. With his careful training of precept and example they are well on the road to success.

        In estimating the relative strength of various specified influences which have helped with his work, his name is mentioned as paramount in many homes. It is noted the fact that his mother played a large role in his moral and spiritual upbringing. School and early companionship were helpful, but, for want of time and facilities, private study amounted to little. Contact with men in the active world of business were more of a help to his success.

        The only prominent fraternity of which he was a member is the Royal Arcanum. He never held or sought any political office, but he was always a member of the Democratic party. His religious affiliation was that of a Baptist, in which he held the office of deason since 1898. He was also greatly interested in helping two Baptist educational institutions within his town.

        In reviewing his life, Mr. Bristow has been a success, but it did have a price. The “early to bed and early to rise” was a habit formed when he was a boy, and he never broke from it. When he was asked once, what suggestions he would give to young people today, to help them success tomorrow, his reply was: “In determining any question, of however great or small importance, ask one’s self the question, ‘Is this right?’--if so, then do it, if not, then let it alone. Strive to do as much as possible for your employer, and do it thoroughly. The reward will come when you least expect it. Don’t think more of pay-day than your work; let work be done promptly and thoroughly and your pay will grow larger. Never guess a thing is done when you are asked by those in authority. Either know it is finish or see to it that it is. Work to obtain a finished education, and above all, build character.”


Men Of Mark in South Carolina, Volume I


James Calvin Hemphill



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