Glassy Mountain History
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Distilling the Mysteries of Glassy Mountain
Glassy Mountain, located in the heart of the Dark Corner of Greenville County, is named for its distinctive glassy appearance after almost every winter storm event.
The recorded history of the mountain began after the settlement of the Indian Wars in 1777 and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1781. South Carolina—faced with enormous wartime debts and an inability to pay IOU’s issued to revolutionary soldiers—now owned thousands of acres of former Cherokee land west of the present-day boundary of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties. The veterans were given the right to exchange their “script” for plots of land ceded by the Cherokee which included all of Glassy Mountain.
Between 1784 and 1800 all of Glassy Mountain was deeded to predominately Scotch/Irish/English settlers who then scratched a living from the land which was rich in trees, rocks and water. Early family names included Centers, Clayton, Pruitt, Gosnell, Belew, and Harrison. Yeoman farming, an 18x18 foot log cabin and a traditional family corn liquor still were the norm.
The end of the Civil War left the Federal Government with a heavy debt load and the resulting tax on distilled liquors set in motion a hundred-year conflict between a perceived “god given right” and a democratic republic’s ability to enforce the law. Distilling liquor was one of the few ways most families could raise any cash to purchase some sorely needed necessities and meet the annual taxes on their property. The local custom of settling your own disputes was now disrupted by the presence of local and federal law enforcement agents.
By the turn of the century, most farms had been subdivided by generational inheritance with the remaining fields depleted by over use. Life on the mountains was barely sustainable. An exodus to the urban life and work in the emerging cotton mills was accelerated in 1917 by the confiscation of Glassy Mountain as a WWI artillery firing range. Most of the evicted families never returned, and the Plumley Family purchased the upper portions of Glassy Mountain with cash from moonshining.
By 1926, the Dark Corner was consumed by the major developments of lumbering and land speculation. These events along with the rise and fall of the 17,000 acre Blue Ridge Estates—with a clubhouse, golf course and mountain cottages—are well documented in the book “Distilling the Mysteries of Hogback Mountain” by James Stehlik.
During the depression and beyond, life remained mired in the past for those who chose to remain on Glassy Mountain. The lack of modern necessities can best be illustrated by the fact that electricity was not available to Mountain Hill Baptist Church, the cornerstone of life on Glassy Mountain, until August, 1978.
Ben Emery, Plumleys- Jim, Clint, Lawrence, Rosa, Nettie, and Annabel Harrison. Circa 1942
The future of Glassy Mountain changed on March 6, 1989, when developer James Billy Anthony purchased his first parcel of land on Glassy Mountain and started the second Blue Ridge Development with a clubhouse, golf course, and cottages in a gated community called the Cliffs at Glassy. But this is a story to be told at a future date.
Note: There are many books and DVD’s available that recount the culture and history of Glassy Mountain and the surrounding area. “Including a Pile of Rocks” by Anne K. McCuen is a classic and available in local libraries, Amazon and http://ebooksdownloads.xyz .
“Shining a Light on The Dark Corner”- James Stehlik