The History of the Pacolet Area

For several thousand years, there was little human activity in the area that was to eventually be known as Pacolet. Hunting parties of Native American Indians passed over and around the area. In more recent times both the Catawba and the Cherokees hunted in the area. There was an abundance of wildlife. The Indians lived lightly on the land. In most places, they left little to mark their thousands of years living in the Piedmont except an occasional stone arrowhead.  However, right beside the Pacolet River they found a valuable supply of soapstone and mined it for their use for many generations. Click on the link at the bottom of this page for more information on the soapstone.

The Pacolet area was part of a vast wilderness that changed little over the centuries until the coming of the Europeans. The first time that one of the white Europeans came was about the year, 1567, when a  party of Spanish explorers under the command of Captain Juan Pardo passed nearby. In 1934, a stone marked with the date "1567" and direction markings was plowed up on a farm near Inman, close to Lawson's Fork Creek. This stone is thought to be left by Pardo's expedition and is now in the Spartanburg Museum.

This was the first contact with the Europeans but it was only the beginning. It started slowly at first. It was almost another 200 years before the white men came to the area of the creek in any numbers. In all this time, the area near what would eventually be called Pacolet and the Pacolet River remained a perfect wilderness. Around 1750, more white men came to the area. These men brought their families and started to make settlements. For the most part, they came down from the north, particularly the state of Pennsylvania. They first settled on the branches of the Tyger River, on Fairforest Creek and along the Pacolet River near Grindal Shoals. They came in increasing numbers and changed the Piedmont forever.

The settlers worked hard to make a living and raise their crops, particularly corn. They used the corn for food for themselves and their animals. They needed to have the corn ground into meal. Some of the settlers built small water powered mills using the creeks that provided a ready source of water power. It was during this time that Lawson's Fork Creek that flows through the town of Glendale  got its name. The origin of who and where Lawson was has been lost to time but evidently, the "Fork" name was given because it flowed into and was a fork of the Pacolet River.

For about the next 20 years or so, after 1750, only an occasional family settled along Lawson's Fork and there was probably a small corn grinding mill or two using the water power of the creek. But the year, 1773,  was the beginning of using the water power of Lawson's Fork that eventually led to what we know today as Glendale.
 The use of the water power from the Pacolet River would not happen until a later date.

The Pacolet area takes its name from the Pacolet River. There is considerable controversy about the name Pacolet. There are at least the following stories. One, is that the word is French in origin and means "swift messenger" and the river got this name because it was a fast stream. Still another says that it means "swift horseman" or "swift runner". Another is that it was named after an Indian tribe that lived near the river. Still another, is that it was named after a man named Pacolet who had once lived in the vicinity. Evidently, someone in an official capacity at the mill believed the story about it meaning "swift horseman". A picture of a running horse was adopted as a symbol for the mill and things associated with it. This must have been the indirect origin of the name of the "Trojans" for the baseball teams through the story of the Trojan horse.

The Settlement at Grindal Shoals
Tolleson's Tavern
The Soapstone Quarries
Local Historic Roads
Return to Pacolet Homepage

This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster.  Contact me at: or by telephone at (843) 873-8117.
 My regular mail adress is:
1311 Jahnz Ave.
Summerville, SC 29485

See more information about my Pacolet connection at Gerald Teaster.