|Laurens, South Carolina|
|Motto: "Gateway to the Upstate"|
Location of Laurens in South Carolina
Located in the Upstate region of South Carolina, the city of Laurens is named after Henry Laurens of Revolutionary War fame. It is part of the Greenville–Mauldin–Easley Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The small town of Laurens, South Carolina was established by an act of the General Assembly on March 15, 1785 as a location for commercial activities. It was one of the six counties created for the original Ninety-Six Districts of South Carolina. Laurens was originally named Laurensville. On December 15, 1845, a charter was issued with the name of Laurensvlle. The first appearance of the town named Laurens was in an 1873 charter.The town of Laurens was chartered in 1900 and in 1916. The town was named in the honor of Henry Laurens, the South Carolina statesman.
The first inhabitants of Laurens were the Cherokee Indians. They used the land as their hunting and fighting ground. There has been evidence of broken potsherds, weapons, and a mound found linked to Cherokee culture on land now called Laurens. There were many treaties made with the Cherokee Indians over the land known as Laurens County dating back to 1721. Before the America Revolution thousands of immigrants, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, settled in Laurens County. Later Laurens developed into a major intersection of commerce in the colonial America. In the Battle of Musgrove Mill, Laurens witnessed intense fighting.
In 1790, after the Revolutionary War, Laurens was elected as the county seat. Like other southern towns, cotton was the major crop being produced. The high amount of cotton production led to an economic boom and a substantial increase in the African American population. The economic boom attracted wealthy entrepreneurs and businessmen to Laurens. Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, worked as a tailor downtown Laurens from 1824 until 1826.
Before the beginning of the Civil War, Laurens provided a great deal of political leaders to the state government. The state’s decision to secede from the Union was influenced by many of those political leaders. The fighting of the Civil War never neared Laurens. But Laurens was affected by the influx of refugees that fled Charleston to avoid the progressing Union Army and Navy. Several of the refugees settled in Laurens after the Civil War.
The years after the Civil War, Reconstruction, the economy of Laurens revolved to include industry. The recovery of Laurens' economy was dependent upon the creation of the textiles and manufacturing industry after the civil war. In 1985, Lauren Cotton Mill was founded, and Watts Mill was started in 1902. Laurens Glass Company was established 1910, which was one of the largest glass plants in the southeast for over eighty years. The Laurens Railroad Company was chartered in 1847. The Columbia-Newberry-Laurens Railroad and the Charleston-Western Carolina Railroad are the two major intersections provided by the railroad.
Laurens and Laurens County is part of the Old 96 District, which also includes Abbeville County,Greenwood County, McCormick County, and Edgefield County.
The textile, manufacturing, and glass industries were at one point a major source of employment. Although many of the textile plants and the glass production facilities have closed over the last 30 years, a variety of industries exist within the county, including corporations like CeramTec,International Paper, Milliken & Co. and others. Walmart operates a distribution center outside of the city near Interstate 385, which serves as a major employer. The area has seen several recent economic retail developments, and is seeing new capital investment in heavy industry, including a major new transmission production facility for German ZF Group. The unemployment rate, as of February 2012, sat at 9.6%.
Laurens was the town chosen for a makeover in the second season of Town Haul.
Laurens is home to Gary Davis and Pink Anderson, acoustic blues musicians who were born in the city, as well as Redtop Davis, lightweightboxer of the 1940s and 1950s. J.T. Taylor, the lead singer of the funk/R&B band Kool & The Gang, grew up in Laurens.