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Lancaster County SC Genealogy

Heath Springs

by Louise Pettus

A just-published local history book, Heath Springs South Carolina 1752-1970, by Andrea Deborah VanLandingham Sten, appropriately enough, begins with the story of the rock formations of lower Lancaster County. Hanging Rock, Flat Rock, Anvil Rock, Shelter Rock and Stoneboro (a quarry) are characteristic of the area around Heath Springs.

But while Andee Steen knows her rocks (she is an award-winning highly-praised amateur archeologist), the real thrust of the book is with the people and the wonderful collection of pictures that illustrate life as it was two and three generations ago.

The Heath Springs area was settled by white men from Virginia and North Carolina in the 1760s about a decade after the Waxhaws to the north. The area was involved in the Revolutionary War (the battle of Hanging Rock especiall) and the Civil War (especially the bitter end, with Sherman's forces marching through and destroying what they could not take with them), but Steen does not spend much time with these momentous events. She recognizes that their stories have been told in depth elsewhere, including accounts that she has written for local newspapers and state publications.

Instead, she focuses on a narrower canvas by interweaving community history with family biographies, house history, and individual achievers.

The town of Heath Springs grew around the Hanging Rock Mineral Spring, a pre-Civil War "watering place" or spa. The Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad (the 3Cs) came through. In 1888, Benjamin Dawson Heath, a native of the Waxhaws, but then living in Union County, NC, bought the resort. A post office was built and called Heath (or Heath's) Spring.

It is said that B.D. Heath never set foot on his property but, as early as 1886, he copartnered a mercantile business with Col. Leroy Springs of Lancaster, that they called Heath Springs and Company. One of the things they sold was locally bottled "Heath Springs Mineral Water."

In 1889, B.D. Heath gave a plot of land for the "Heath Springs Baptist Church." A year later, the South Carolina legislature chartered Heath Springs as one mile square with the Baptist church in the exact center.

Rural communities around Heath Springs each have their own chapter. We find accounts of the histories of Pleasant Hill, Flint Ridge, Creighton Hill, Bruce, Hanging Rock, Cedar Creek (famed for its Mount Carmel Camp Meeting ground, which is on the National Register of Historic Places), and Stoneboro.

Stoneboro, the site of a large granite quarry, was originally called Russell Place, named for William Russell, an Irish immigrant.

Steen's first book (this one is her third) was titled Stoneboro, published in 1993. In that book she did an indepth history of the quarry. And her second book, Russell Place Gatherings (1995) also deals with this area.

In her current book she summarizes the history of Stoneboro with in these words:
"At the beginning of the twentieth century, Stoneboro was a bustling community with a railroad, a granite quarry, a post office, several grist mills and ginneries, and several stores, even a millinery shop. At the Stoneboro crossroads, lots along the road sold easily to those who thought Stoneboro would one day become a thriving town. But the granite quarry which had given rise to such optimism soon failed, and the hopes of a town faded into obscurity."

After each community is discussed, the author comes back to Heath Springs, selecting certain years for a sketch based on information gleaned from newspapers and old records, including high school yearbooks. The years selected are 1906, 1915, 1925, the 19302 and the 1960s.

We especially like the 1960's quote from a news story by a State reporter in 1959 about Heath Springs: "Whatever it might be a sign of we also noted with interest that a vacant store room and a former movie house both on the town's Main Street were chock full of cotton bales."

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