While the low country of South Carolina had been settled for
many years, Greenville County, once the stronghold of the Cherokee Indians, was
not ceded until 1777. The Greenville District was created in 1786, but was known
as Pleasantburg until 1831. The origins of the name Greenville County are
uncertain. The county was either named for an early resident, Isaac Green or
Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene.
The first settler in present Greenville County was Richard Pearis. He married
a Cherokee woman and records indicate that the Cherokee tribe thought so highly
of him that he was given several tracts of land by the Cherokee Indian tribe.
On part of this estate now stands the City of Greenville and Paris Mountain,
it's name a derivative of Pearis.
The city of Greenville was founded in 1770 at the site of the Reedy River
Falls Park in downtown Greenville. The falls were once the source of power for
early industries. The land around Greenville became a village centered around a
trading post and grist mill.
Greenville evolved at the vision of Vardry McBee, whom some call the "Father
of Greenville." He was instrumental in moving Furman University from Edgefield
to Greenville in 1851 and in securing Greenville's first railroad. McBee
encouraged the construction of mills to take advantage of Greenville's proximity
to fast-flowing water, the Reedy River. Soon the town was the home to a number
of grist, textile and paper mills and the largest carriage factory east of the
Mississippi. By the end of the 19th century and into the next, Greenville
industry was expanding up and down the banks of the Reedy River.