I must admit I was oblivious to what I now know as The Glendale Cotton Mill. Just another nature preserve I said to myself as I wandered on my usual trail hike. However, there was something a little different about this one. The path alongside the river was like being in a course on agriculture before coming to a red iron bridge that crossed over the. creek.
For several thousand years, there was little human activity along the little waterway that was to eventually be known as Lawson’s Fork Creek. Hunting parties of Native American Indians passed over and around the area. There was an abundance of wildlife. The Indians lived lightly on the land. They left little to mark their thousands of years living in the Piedmont except an occasional stone arrowhead.
The area along the creek was part of a vast wilderness that changed little over the centuries until the coming of the Europeans. The first time that the creek was seen by one of the Europeans was about the year 1567, when a party of Spanish explorers under the command of Captain Juan Pardo passed nearby. 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, around 1750, before more Europeans came in any numbers to the area of the creek. In all this time, the area near what would eventually be called Lawson’s Fork Creek and the Pacolet River remained a perfect wilderness. These men brought their families and started to make settlements, changing the Piedmont forever.
The settlers worked hard to make a living and raise their crops, particularly corn. Some of the settlers built small water-powered mills using the creeks that provided a ready source of waterpower. It was during this time that Lawson’s Fork Creek got its name. By the year 1773, the use of the waterpower of Lawson’s Fork led to what we know today as Glendale.
Glendale and its mill were not always known as Glendale. The story begins with Dr. James Bivings, who arrived in the Spartanburg area around 1830, bringing with him an entire crew of laborers. He started a cotton manufacturing company in 1831 and built the Bivingsville Mill and surrounding town of Bivingsville. His home, now known as the Bivings-Converse House, was situated on a bluff above the mill.
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 every room. (Glendale History Website)