Life in Travelers Rest

Where the travelers rested

In the early 1800’s, settlers in Conestoga wagons (large covered wagons pulled by four to six horses) were passing through what was to become Travelers Rest, South Carolina in increasing numbers and roads were becoming more common. “Drovers” herded horses, mules, cattle, sheep, and hogs from Kentucky and Tennessee to markets in South Carolina.1

All these travelers needed places to rest along their long journeys and stores and taverns sprouted up to meet their needs. One of these spots was north of the modern day Travelers Rest, on what is now highway 25, where a Mr. and Mrs. William Bishop operated an inn where the drovers could sleep indoors while their animals were kept in a nearby pen.2 Stopovers such as this gave rise to the colorful, if not too imaginative, name of Travelers Rest.

If once is good, twice must be better

Travelers Rest has the notable distinction of achieving incorporation as a city twice in its history. Although records are a bit limited on the subject, residents of Travelers Rest did, in fact, apply to the state government in 1891 to be incorporated as a bona fide governmental entity.3 The following act from December 23, 1891 is on file in the Columbia statehouse, incorporating Travelers Rest for a period of thirty years:

Statutes of South Carolina Vol. XX, pages 1373-74

An Act to Incorporate the Town of Travelers Rest in Greenville County

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina, now met and sitting in General Assembly, and by authority of the same, That (sic) all citizens of the United States who now are, or who may hereafter be, inhabitants of the town of Traveler’s (sic) Rest, in Greenville County, shall be deemed, and are hereby declared to be, a body politic and corporate; and that said town shall be known by the name of Traveler’s (sic) Rest, and the limits shall extend one-half mile in every direction from a point midway between the two depots of the Carolina, Knoxville, and Western Railway company, so that the limits shall form a circle.4

In 1959, the 2500 residents of Travelers Rest held an election and sent a request to the Secretary of State, O. Frank Thornton, petitioning for a second incorporation. Mr. Lehman Moseley received the following letter:

“We do have information that Travelers Rest was incorporated by a special act December 23, 1891, for a period of 30 years. The time ran out and insofar as our records show, there is nothing to prevent the incorporation of a town using the name Travelers Rest.

Yours very truly,
O. Frank Thornton
Secretary of State”5

1 Archie Huff, Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont (1995) 65.
2 Huff, 65.
3 Mildred W. Goodlett, The History of Travelers Rest (1966) 32.
4 Goodlett, 32.
5 Goodlett, 34.