A History of Oconee Station, South Carolina

Oconee Station Falls

In 1792, what later became Oconee County’s first European settlers built Oconee Station, a small wood and stone “blockhouse” about a mile from the falls. The military fort and accompanying 1805 residence were intended to protect settlers from the Cherokees and vice-versa. Today, they are on the National Register of Historic Places and tours are available from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment.

When established in 1792, Oconee Station was in Pendleton County within the overarching Washington District, which was abolished in 1798. In 1798, the very short-lived overarching Pendleton District was created and Oconee Station was now in this district. In 1800, the overarching Pendleton District was abolished. A new Pendleton District (county) was established in 1800, and later split into Pickens District (county) and Anderson District (county). From 1826 to 1868, Oconee Station was in Pickens District (county).

The oldest building in Oconee County stands at Oconee Station in a remote section above the county seat of Walhalla. From the early colonial history of South Carolina we learn that the outlying frontiers suffered from the depredations of the Indians from the years 1756-1760 and besought the government to come to their aid. Yielding to their entreaties, England, in the year 1760, sent Colonel Archibald Montgomerie with 1,200 men who landed at Charles Town where he was joined by a Scots regiment, and at the Congarees his forces were still further augmented. With this force he marched into the heart of Cherokee territory carrying fire and sword, burning villages, killing eighty braves and taking forty prisoners, mostly women and children.

He established three outposts but only this one remains. The story handed down by the early settlers is that the rough stone house was the guard house of Colonel Montgomerie's military post and that soldiers were kept there until after the American Revolution.

Located on a hill overlooking the mountains is a building of rough plaster with thick walls, the windows are high, narrow and deepset. It consists of two rooms, roughly plastered with a large chimney in the center furnishing two huge fireplace. From one of the rooms a narrow stairway leads into a basement which is filled with an assortment of household utensils of a half century ago. On the walls hang bunches of life everlasting, boneset, mullin, and jimsen, the latter to inhale for the asthma, festoons of onions and peppers, twists of golden brown home grown tobacco, dried apples on canes and a medley of peanuts, pumpkins, and potatoes. It is so peaceful now where once was heard the tramp of soldiers' feet, the savage yells of the Indians in war-paint and feathers, the cries of the panther and the howl of the wolf.

By the guard house stands a substantial two storied brick house and into the wall of this dwelling is inserted a marble slab bearing this inscription: William Richards-1805.

The early settlers tell that when the troops were removed after the American Revolution that the three Richard brothers remained, living for a while in a house at the foot of the hill, later building the present house which bears the name of William Richards.

The house was surrounded by an old English garden. Boxwood, euonimus, and English ivy form an old-world setting for the daffodils, roses, lilacs, and clumps of lavender and rosemary. No doubt the garden was lovingly tended by the English girl who came over to join her brothers, and the fragrance of her garden was like a breath of home in her wilderness dwelling.

Her grave lies at the foot of the hill and on her tomb we read the following: "Margaret Richards who crossed the ocean for love of her brothers."

During the years that followed, the three brothers died and are buried in the same spot in unmarked graves. We are told that when the last brother died that a relative from England took over the property.

The property was later owned by James Doyle, Sheriff of Pickens District. His sons fought in the Confederate army and after peace was declared, all save one went to Texas, where they made honorable names for themselves, but never failed to love their native state. The McWhorter boys, John, Lee, Will, and Doyle, once called this home and later became merchants and heads of railways in other states. Here the genial Henry F. Alexander and his bride, Rebecca Doyle, set up housekeeping and their first child was born.

After their removal, it seems that this property fell into the hands of Mr. Green who came with his large family from the mountains of North Carolina.

Three of these kindly daughters still live here, Misses Parnecy, Tekorah, and Victoria Green. For half a century they have tended their fields and made the cloth for their clothing. They will gladly show you their treasured quilts, representing years of patient toil, calling them lovingly by name, a young man's fancy, rosebud and magnolia.

May they long be spared, these gentle sisters of the long ago. They have since passed away.

Written by - Mary Cherry Doyle, Clemson, SC in January, 1935 [with minor edits]

In Pickens District (county), Oconee Station was granted a U.S. Post Office on March 7, 1844, and its first Postmaster was Mr. James A. Doyle. On September 25, 1866, this Post Office was closed.

The second incarnation of Oconee Station (apparently at the same location) was in Oconee County - on January 11, 1876, the U.S. Post Office Department granted it a Post Office, with Postmaster Mr. Gottlob Wanner. This Post Office was permanently closed on October 2, 1878.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved