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Greer: County Seat of Highland

The morning mail brought a letter from the manager of South Carolina’s County Boundary Program. The letter stated that the county lines for Greenville and Laurens had been clarified pursuant to state law and contained a link to South Carolina’s Geodetic Survey website for me to review.

Having been fascinated with maps since I was a child, I couldn’t resist having a look at the revised boundary. Much to my surprise, along with the new survey, the website contained links to historical Greenville County maps dating back to the 1760’s.

One map in particular caught my eye – a survey for Highland County dated 1907. Since Highland County does not exist, I guessed the map must refer to Highland Township in Northern Greenville County. I was right.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Highland Township rests on the edge of the Dark Corner near the intersection of state highways 101 and 414. Until recently, an ancient two-story house, rumored to be haunted and to have been used as a safe house for the Underground Railroad, stood near the intersection. The house was recently torn down.

The Highland County survey defines a new county between Greenville and Spartanburg. The proposed county lines run from below Greer all the way up to the mountain, including strips of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties and barely takes in Campobello.

Since this was news to me, I researched the phantom county and came across this excerpt from the June 9, 1902 edition of The Greenville News:

Our correspondent at Mitchell says in this issue of the News that a meeting was held on the 5th instant at Highland to discuss the new county that it is proposed to make out of Greenville and Spartanburg counties. 

The correspondent says: “The people seem to be in favor of a new county provided it is cut off large enough and then make some other place the county seat besides Campobello.”

The new county fad has been run into the ground. The idea of making a new county out of portions of Spartanburg and Greenville County is simply a dream. Greenville is a very long county but very narrow. To cut Greenville up into shoe strings would not be fair. Then again, those portions of Greenville and Spartanburg out of which it is proposed to make a new county are mountainous and very thinly settled. The population of the new county would be extremely small. 

If the persons desiring the new county could take in a portion of the mountains of North Carolina and make it fifty miles square they might have their wishes gratified, not otherwise.

For all purposes Greenville County is sufficient and there is no business or other reason why the counties of Spartanburg and Greenville should be cut tip. They want their mountain friends and neighbors to remain within the old bounds. We love them and we see no reason why they should desire to place the barrier of a county line between us and thus become, as it, were, strangers to us. Friends, do not think of such a thing. Remain with us. Let old landmarks stand and still he our friends and neighbors in fact. 

All of the people in that portion of Greenville county that it is proposed to cut off are not in favor of a new county. It is doubled if two-thirds of the voters will vote for the Campobello county. 

Then again it will be observed that the people at Highland only favor the move on conditions, one of which is that the county seat shall not be at Campobello. It is presumed that the agitation commenced there and Campobello may yet be hoisted by it own petard.

Yep. The disagreements described in that article sound like Dark Corner people to me.

The late Sen. J. Verne Smith always said that Greer was the center of the universe. After looking at the Highland County survey, I believe he was on to something.


  1. Blake Myers

    There really is nothing new under the political sun. We’ve gone from a generation that never considered itself the greatest (though the facts are hard to argue) to one that considers itself the only generation. Thanks for reminding us that the paths are trodden.

  2. David A Laurine

    I’m likely one of few, but thought that was interesting.

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