•The First Cotton Mill in Marlboro•
Just outside of Bennettsville, South Carolina you can find a pond called Burnt Factory. Even though it is the name of the area, no real “factory” was ever here. The name comes from a three-story building built between 1835-1836. This building was the very first cotton mill in Marlboro County and was simply called the “factory”. The operatives of the mill were slaves and basic cloth was likely spun. In the year 1851, the factory burnt down and that is where the name Burnt Factory originates.
I was able to learn much of this from a friendly local by the name of Mr. Robert Eugene Sweatt. Robert has ties to the area that went back many generations. It was his belief that the dirt road featured above served as a supply road for the Confederate soldiers during The Civil War. Mr. Sweatt had a lot of interesting facts to share about the area and its history. He was also able to point me in the right direction to get some really wonderful photographs of the pond and surrounding area as well.
Nothing of the original cotton mill remains today. Although, you can find another structure beside the pond. What you’ll find is the remanents of a gristmill that met the same fate. This fire though wasn’t an accident. According to Mr. Sweatt, “the gristmill burnt down after some kids caught it on fire playing with fireworks”. He wasn’t able to give me an exact year, although he said he remembered when it happened.
Not much is left of the mill now. As you can see from the photograph, the gear, concrete base, and millstone is all that remains today. This location might have been one of my favorite stops while touring through Marlboro County. I found the pond to be tranquil and a wonderful spot for fishing or photography.