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Williamston, South Carolina
Top, left to right: Downtown Williamston, the grave of West Allen William (founder of Williamston) in Williamston Springs Mineral Park, water tower at the Williamston Mill, Williamston Municipal Center
Top, left to right: Downtown Williamston, the grave of West Allen William (founder of Williamston) in Williamston Springs Mineral Park, water tower at the Williamston Mill, Williamston Municipal Center
Location of Williamston, South Carolina
Location of Williamston, South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Anderson
 • Total 3.7 sq mi (9.5 km2)
 • Land 3.6 sq mi (9.4 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2)
814 ft (248 m)
 • Total 3,934
 • Density 1,080/sq mi (417.1/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 864
FIPS code 45-77875
GNIS feature ID 1251452

Williamston is a town in Anderson County, South Carolina, United States, The population was 3,934 at the 2010 census.


Williamston is located in northeastern Anderson County at 34°37′4″N 82°28′45″W / 34.61778°N 82.47917°W / 34.61778; -82.47917 (34.617699, -82.479256). The twin towns of Pelzer and West Pelzer are 2 miles (3 km) to the north. Anderson, the county seat, is 15 miles (24 km) to the southwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.5 km2), of which 3.6 square miles (9.4 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 1.01%, is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 935
1900 991 6.0%
1910 1,957 97.5%
1920 2,322 18.7%
1930 2,235 −3.7%
1940 2,509 12.3%
1950 2,782 10.9%
1960 3,721 33.8%
1970 3,991 7.3%
1980 4,310 8.0%
1990 3,876 −10.1%
2000 3,791 −2.2%
2010 3,934 3.8%
Est. 2015 4,124 4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,791 people, 1,590 households, and 1,090 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,056.2 people per square mile (407.7/km²). There were 1,762 housing units at an average density of 490.9 per square mile (189.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 80.80% White, 17.67% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.66% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.74% of the population.

There were 1,590 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.9% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town, the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $31,458, and the median income for a family was $37,679. Males had a median income of $30,585 versus $21,771 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,085. About 9.4% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.3% of those under age 18 and 13.3% of those age 65 or over.


Group of boys working in the Williamston Mill
Child labor at the Williamston Mill, 1912. Photo by Lewis Hine.

The founding of Williamston was a dream come true for West Allen Williams. One day in 1842 this farmer stopped for a nap while riding over his property. He dreamed of a clear spring with healing qualities and envisioned pale and feeble people improving miraculously. Upon awakening, he followed a trickling sound and discovered the source of the Williamston mineral spring.

As news of the medicinal water spread, the town grew and became a major resort when the railroads arrived in 1851. Soon it became known as the "Saratoga of the South", which was a referral to a similar spring in New York. To accommodate the influx, the Mammoth Hotel was built near the spring and was the largest building in the state at that time, featuring 150 rooms plus bowling alleys and ballrooms. Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1860 destroyed it and other buildings. The town was initially known as Mineral Springs, but this was changed to Williamston in 1852. Mr. Williams set aside property to preserve the spring and to begin schools and churches.

The Civil War brought an end to that "golden era", but not without leaving its own history. The last skirmish east of the Mississippi took place a few miles north of town when cadets from the Arsenal Academy of Columbia encountered Stoneman's Raiders on May 1, 1865.

In 1871, Dr. Samuel Lander established a girls' school which eventually moved to the city of Greenwood and became Lander University. Dr. Lander was instrumental in prohibiting the sale of liquor in town, a feeling which exists today in this community served by more than 70 churches.

Around the turn of the century the cotton mills settled near the river and played major roles in shaping the communities. Many families still treasure memories of events sponsored by the mills and of teams playing in the old textile leagues. Shoeless Joe Jackson took his first steps on Pelzer's mill hill and went on to become the greatest natural baseball player ever.

Railroads continued to serve the area until the 1950s. The P & N was designed to operate through the heart of the Piedmont textile industry and is remembered by its motto "A Mill to the Mile" and by its rate of a penny a mile. With today's dominance of auto transportation, Williamston has highways 8, 20, and 29 connecting it to upstate corridors including nearby Interstate 85.

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