Explore Honea Path's History

By:Ernie Wiggins

Date:6/25/2011


One of the great joys as the Less Traveled Insider is being able to point my car in any direction in search of treasures that would be of interest to visitors and residents alike. The Nation​al Heritage Corridor is especially wonderful to explore because by simply driving down the 240 miles through 17 South Carolina counties, I discover the state’s social and cultural history as it was, as it is being maintained and restored.

The corridor extends from the mountains of Oconee County to city of Charle​ston on the coast. According to the corrid​or’s website, the highways and byways wind through South Carolina’s story of progression from ups​tate to the lowco​u​​ntry and include grand plantations, farms and mills and urban centers.

Recently I visited Hone​a P​ath, a town that straddles both Ander​son and Abbe​ville counties, the town of Abbeville and the city of Greenwood.

Honea Path is “the little town with a big heart” that wears its heart on its streets. I was particularly interested in the memorials to war casualties and mill workers who died in a labor strike in 1934. Both monuments appear to be lovingly tended. The war memorial at the intersection of Main and Greer streets features the names of Honea Path residents who died in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. As the marker indicates, Honea Path lost more soldiers in the Civil War than in all of the other wars combined.

The mill worker monument, which is located near town hall on Ervin Street just a stone’s throw from the veterans memorial, bears the inscription: “They Died for the Rights of the Working Man.”

Seven workers were shot and killed and 34 others wounded during the strike at the Chiquola Mill on Sept. 6, 1934, which grew out of a nationwide labor strike to protest working conditions and push for labor organizations in the mills. Unfortunately, the shooting resounded across the country, bringing painful attention the town with the big heart. But Honea Path has embraced that part of its history, painful though it may be.

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