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Woodruff sc

Woodruff, South Carolina, is a city in Spartanburg County. Woodruff is conveniently situated 18 miles from Spartanburg and 25 miles from Greenville. The 2019 U.S. Census estimated population was 4,418. Per the U.S. Census, the city has a total area of 3.7 square miles. Geographically, the city has a latitude of 34.76 and a longitude of -82.046. The zip code for Woodruff is 29388. The area code for Woodruff is 864.

Woodruff was incorporated in 1874. However, the city’s genesis was Joseph Woodruff (1751 – 1817) who received a grant of 200 acres after the American Revolution. Joseph’s son, Thomas Woodruff (1780 – 1868) envisioned creating a town. This was not accomplished before his death. However, his sons, Dr. Charles Pinckney Woodruff (1808 – 1887) and Captain Andrew Barry Woodruff (1825 – 1905) brought their father’s vision to fruition. The town was named in their father’s honor. His two sons were the driving force in the establishment of Woodruff, from determining the actual location to recruiting enterprises—especially the railroad—to come to Woodruff. 

The first post office in the original settlement was established on June 7, 1824, as “Woodruff’s.” Thomas Woodruff was the first postmaster. The U.S. Postal Service renamed the post office to “Woodruff” on February 15, 1892.  

While not born or raised in Woodruff, probably one of the most famous people from Woodruff was W. L. “Willie” Varner (1926 – 2009). A high school football coaching legend, he was the Woodruff High School football coach for 42 seasons (1954–1996) winning 383 games, ten state titles, and 28 conference titles. In 1996, Varner was honored with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award. 

Historic Woodruff Population

Census Pop. %±

1880 254 —

1890 380 49.6%

1900 596 56.8%

1910 1,880 215.4%

1920 2,396 27.4%

1930 3,175 32.5%

1940 3,508 10.5%

1950 3,831 9.2%

1960 3,679 −4.0%

1970 4,690 27.5%

1980 5,171 10.3%

1990 4,365 −15.6%

2000 4,229 −3.1%

2010 4,090 −3.3%

2019 4,418 (est.) 8.0%

Per U.S. Census: 

High school graduate or higher 2015-2019: 80.2%

Median home value 2015-2019: $106,300

Total households 2015-2019: 1,868

As of the 2012 U.S. Census, there were 267 businesses or firms in Woodruff.  

A brief historical overview of Woodruff

Geographically, Woodruff is roughly halfway between Spartanburg and Laurens. Woodruff is situated on a rise that is reportedly the highest point above sea level between Spartanburg and Augusta. This is presumably where one of Woodruff’s nicknames, “The Hill,” originated. The city is located in southern Spartanburg County at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 221 and S.C. Highway 101 and State Road 50. The origin of this crossroads was intersecting the Buncombe Road, which ran from Charleston to the North Carolina mountains, and the road that ran to Georgia, the Georgia Road. 

Joseph Woodruff (1751 – 1817) was originally from the Yadkin River Valley region of North Carolina. After his service in the American Revolution, he purchased a 200-acre tract of land that was located on Jamey’s Creek, in present-day Woodruff. Joseph and his wife, Anne Lindsey Woodruff (1755 – 1826) married in 1774, and became prosperous farmers, rearing seven children on their homestead. Legend has it that one of Joseph and Anne’s sons, Thomas Woodruff (1780 – 1868), envisioned his land and the area being developed into a prosperous town. Thomas and his wife, Mary Patillo Harrison Woodruff (1780 – 1849), were similarly prosperous and reared six children. While Thomas’ vision of a town was not achieved in his lifetime, it was accomplished by two of his sons. These two sons were Dr. Charles Pinckney Woodruff (1808 – 1887) and Captain Andrew Barry Woodruff (1825 – 1905). The sons named the town they worked so diligently to develop in honor of their father, Thomas Woodruff. 

The dawn for the city of Woodruff was in 1845 when Thomas deeded his son Charles a tract of land. This land would eventually roughly encompass the Old Bethel Baptist Church, the Old Bethel Cemetery, Woodruff Cotton Mill (also known as Brandon Mill and Abney Mill), and related mill village homes, to Main Street (U.S. Highway 221). This area, along with adjoining parcels, were surveyed in 1876 as part of the new town of Woodruff.  

Woodruff’s initial town limits were drawn in a circle in the survey of 1876. This configuration was deemed too inefficient to administer, and the townspeople chose to adjust to more quadrilateral or square-shaped town limits. The latter version set the town limits and placed Main Street and Georgia Street as the epicenter of Woodruff. The intersection of Main and Georgia was the origin of the town nickname, “Cross Roads.”  

At the time of the founding of the city, there was just a small settlement. There was one general store, a tavern, a one-teacher log cabin school, and Old Bethel Baptist Church. The founding population consisted of five families with three children, which only totaled 13 people.

The early town activities revolved around the Old Bethel Baptist Church. This church was originally formed before 1787. An interesting piece of legislation was passed by Captain Andrew Woodruff while he served in the South Carlina Legislature. The legislation prohibited the sale of whisky within a three-mile radius of Old Bethel Baptist Church, which was only repealed in the 1930s.    

The greatest single economic event in the history of Woodruff was the arrival of the railroad in 1885. The  arrival of the Port Royal & Western Carolina Railroad was met with a great deal of fanfare from the citizenry. At that time, the rail line had only been completed from Augusta to Woodruff, so the train had to be driven onto a railway turntable and turned around to return to Augusta.  

Dr. Charles Woodruff, who was suffering from debilitating rheumatism at the time, managed to climb the steps of the engine and set a wreath of roses on the train’s smokestack. He reportedly gave a rousing speech of appreciation to the town and railroad.

The railroad not only offered the population a means to travel more efficiently, but also served as an economic driver for agriculture and town merchants. The access to new markets provided farmers with the ability to cultivate more profitable crops. Merchants benefited in that new products could be dependably stocked in their stores at lower costs. In most places in the United States, when the railroad arrived, it changed everything. 

Beginning after the American Civil War, and gaining momentum in the 1880s, textile manufacturing took hold in the South. This was especially the case in the piedmont regions of North Carolina and South Carolina. The abundance of rivers for hydropower and the low-wage workforce made the South an attractive investment for textile manufactures. 

Manufacturing on a large scale first arrived with the Woodruff Cotton Oil Company in 1898. A company in the cotton oil business typically performed the cotton gin process of removing cotton fiber from the cottonseed. The residual business of ginning cotton is manufacturing cottonseed oil, livestock meal, and other products from the waste by-products of the ginning process. Cotton cultivation was a major agricultural activity in the area. 

The next major manufacturing concern was the Woodruff Cotton Mill, which was completed in 1901. The mill produced print cloth and broadcloth. This mill became the major employer in Woodruff. In addition, the mill houses built for the workers increased the residential dwellings in town substantially. The cotton mill had more than doubled in size by 1910. The mill complexes eventually encompassed 270,000 square feet, with 45,684 spindles, 1,025 looms, and approximately 500 employees at the peak. The Woodruff Cotton Mill merged with the Brandon and Poinsett Mills of Greenville to form the Brandon Corporation in 1928. Textile industrialist John Pope “Jack” Abney of Abney Mills purchased the cotton mill in 1946, becoming the Abney Mill. John Perkins Industries purchased the mill from Abney Mills in the mid-1990s naming it Mount Vernon Mills. Mount Vernon Mills operated the mill until it closed in 1995. A massive fire in 2001 destroyed the mill structure.

The W. S. Gray Cotton Mill was built and in operation by 1908. This mill originally produced yarn. The mill was sold to Mills Mill Plant No. 2 of Greenville in 1923. After the acquisition, the mill was converted to producing shirting and dress goods. At the time of conversion, the mill had 27,000 spindles and 600 looms. The mill employed around 600 people.

The Woodruff Cotton Mill and the W. S. Gray Cotton Mill were the two primary employers in the city for decades. 

In 1889, a town fire department was formed. The fire department was known as the “The Bucket Brigade.” Water lines and sewer lines were laid through the city in 1915. The freshwater was provided by seven deep wells. This was certainly an indication of population growth and public health concerns. Woodruff’s main street was paved in 1923. The State of South Carolina took over Main Street in 1929 and designated it State Highway 10. This was later taken over by the federal government and designated U.S. Highway 221. This was the first all-weather road through Woodruff that granted the population the ability to travel year-round to the mountains or ocean. 

The arrival of the railroad expanded agricultural cultivation in the area. The railroad made raising cotton much more profitable with the expanded markets. Another boom to agriculture was the improved and expanded highway system that evolved after the turn of the 20th century. This expanded road network allowed farmers to access even more markets. 

Even with a cotton glut in the 1880s, cotton was still a popular cultivation crop in the region through the 20th century. The 1880s also ushered in textile manufacturing in the region, which slowly transformed the labor market from agrarian to manufacturing. Technological improvements also improved farming, thus requiring less labor. The advent of synthetic fibers after World War II began to negatively affect cotton production. Synthetic fibers and international cotton production overtook domestic apparel textile production to such an extent that by the conclusion of the 1970s, cotton fiber was outsold by polyester fiber in the United States.

Textile production in the region began to decline in the 1960s and 1970s. Low-priced imported textiles and synthetic fibers radically affected the textile industry in the 1980s and 1990s. By 1990, in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, over 95% of the looms were removed from production. 

As with any community that was dependent on a limited number of businesses or industries, the decline of the textile industry and farming greatly harmed Woodruff’s economy. However, the economic base of Woodruff and Spartanburg County bounced back quicker than many communities that have been faced similar circumstances. The improved road network, especially the proximity of U.S. Interstate 26, has opened new avenues for economic growth. Probably most impactful has been the economic growth of Spartanburg and Greenville and how that economic prosperity has expanded to surrounding suburbs. The focus on recruiting and incentivizing diverse industries to the region has made the economy much stronger and more resilient to economic downturns. As a result of this thriving regional economy and road system, there has been a housing boom for the Woodruff area as commuters to both Spartanburg and Greenville seek solutions to housing needs.

woodruff sc

Woodruff, South Carolina, is a city in Spartanburg County. Woodruff is conveniently situated 18 miles from Spartanburg and 25 miles from Greenville. The 2019 U.S. Census estimated population was 4,418. Per the U.S. Census, the city has a total area of 3.7 square miles. Geographically, the city has a latitude of 34.76 and a longitude of -82.046. The zip code for Woodruff is 29388. The area code for Woodruff is 864.

Woodruff was incorporated in 1874. However, the city’s genesis was Joseph Woodruff (1751 – 1817) who received a grant of 200 acres after the American Revolution. Joseph’s son, Thomas Woodruff (1780 – 1868) envisioned creating a town. This was not accomplished before his death. However, his sons, Dr. Charles Pinckney Woodruff (1808 – 1887) and Captain Andrew Barry Woodruff (1825 – 1905) brought their father’s vision to fruition. The town was named in their father’s honor. His two sons were the driving force in the establishment of Woodruff, from determining the actual location to recruiting enterprises—especially the railroad—to come to Woodruff.

The first post office in the original settlement was established on June 7, 1824, as “Woodruff’s.” Thomas Woodruff was the first postmaster. The U.S. Postal Service renamed the post office to “Woodruff” on February 15, 1892.

While not born or raised in Woodruff, probably one of the most famous people from Woodruff was W. L. “Willie” Varner (1926 – 2009). A high school football coaching legend, he was the Woodruff High School football coach for 42 seasons (1954–1996) winning 383 games, ten state titles, and 28 conference titles. In 1996, Varner was honored with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award.

Historic Woodruff Population

Census Pop. %±

1880 254 —

1890 380 49.6%

1900 596 56.8%

1910 1,880 215.4%

1920 2,396 27.4%

1930 3,175 32.5%

1940 3,508 10.5%

1950 3,831 9.2%

1960 3,679 −4.0%

1970 4,690 27.5%

1980 5,171 10.3%

1990 4,365 −15.6%

2000 4,229 −3.1%

2010 4,090 −3.3%

2019 4,418 (est.) 8.0%

Per U.S. Census:

High school graduate or higher 2015-2019: 80.2%

Median home value 2015-2019: $106,300

Total households 2015-2019: 1,868

As of the 2012 U.S. Census, there were 267 businesses or firms in Woodruff.

A brief historical overview of Woodruff

Geographically, Woodruff is roughly halfway between Spartanburg and Laurens. Woodruff is situated on a rise that is reportedly the highest point above sea level between Spartanburg and Augusta. This is presumably where one of Woodruff’s nicknames, “The Hill,” originated. The city is located in southern Spartanburg County at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 221 and S.C. Highway 101 and State Road 50. The origin of this crossroads was intersecting the Buncombe Road, which ran from Charleston to the North Carolina mountains, and the road that ran to Georgia, the Georgia Road.

Joseph Woodruff (1751 – 1817) was originally from the Yadkin River Valley region of North Carolina. After his service in the American Revolution, he purchased a 200-acre tract of land that was located on Jamey’s Creek, in present-day Woodruff. Joseph and his wife, Anne Lindsey Woodruff (1755 – 1826) married in 1774, and became prosperous farmers, rearing seven children on their homestead. Legend has it that one of Joseph and Anne’s sons, Thomas Woodruff (1780 – 1868), envisioned his land and the area being developed into a prosperous town. Thomas and his wife, Mary Patillo Harrison Woodruff (1780 – 1849), were similarly prosperous and reared six children. While Thomas’ vision of a town was not achieved in his lifetime, it was accomplished by two of his sons. These two sons were Dr. Charles Pinckney Woodruff (1808 – 1887) and Captain Andrew Barry Woodruff (1825 – 1905). The sons named the town they worked so diligently to develop in honor of their father, Thomas Woodruff.

The dawn for the city of Woodruff was in 1845 when Thomas deeded his son Charles a tract of land. This land would eventually roughly encompass the Old Bethel Baptist Church, the Old Bethel Cemetery, Woodruff Cotton Mill (also known as Brandon Mill and Abney Mill), and related mill village homes, to Main Street (U.S. Highway 221). This area, along with adjoining parcels, were surveyed in 1876 as part of the new town of Woodruff.

Woodruff’s initial town limits were drawn in a circle in the survey of 1876. This configuration was deemed too inefficient to administer, and the townspeople chose to adjust to more quadrilateral or square-shaped town limits. The latter version set the town limits and placed Main Street and Georgia Street as the epicenter of Woodruff. The intersection of Main and Georgia was the origin of the town nickname, “Cross Roads.”

At the time of the founding of the city, there was just a small settlement. There was one general store, a tavern, a one-teacher log cabin school, and Old Bethel Baptist Church. The founding population consisted of five families with three children, which only totaled 13 people.

The early town activities revolved around the Old Bethel Baptist Church. This church was originally formed before 1787. An interesting piece of legislation was passed by Captain Andrew Woodruff while he served in the South Carlina Legislature. The legislation prohibited the sale of whisky within a three-mile radius of Old Bethel Baptist Church, which was only repealed in the 1930s.    

The greatest single economic event in the history of Woodruff was the arrival of the railroad in 1885. The  arrival of the Port Royal & Western Carolina Railroad was met with a great deal of fanfare from the citizenry. At that time, the rail line had only been completed from Augusta to Woodruff, so the train had to be driven onto a railway turntable and turned around to return to Augusta.

Dr. Charles Woodruff, who was suffering from debilitating rheumatism at the time, managed to climb the steps of the engine and set a wreath of roses on the train’s smokestack. He reportedly gave a rousing speech of appreciation to the town and railroad.

The railroad not only offered the population a means to travel more efficiently, but also served as an economic driver for agriculture and town merchants. The access to new markets provided farmers with the ability to cultivate more profitable crops. Merchants benefited in that new products could be dependably stocked in their stores at lower costs. In most places in the United States, when the railroad arrived, it changed everything.

Beginning after the American Civil War, and gaining momentum in the 1880s, textile manufacturing took hold in the South. This was especially the case in the piedmont regions of North Carolina and South Carolina. The abundance of rivers for hydropower and the low-wage workforce made the South an attractive investment for textile manufactures.

Manufacturing on a large scale first arrived with the Woodruff Cotton Oil Company in 1898. A company in the cotton oil business typically performed the cotton gin process of removing cotton fiber from the cottonseed. The residual business of ginning cotton is manufacturing cottonseed oil, livestock meal, and other products from the waste by-products of the ginning process. Cotton cultivation was a major agricultural activity in the area.

The next major manufacturing concern was the Woodruff Cotton Mill, which was completed in 1901. The mill produced print cloth and broadcloth. This mill became the major employer in Woodruff. In addition, the mill houses built for the workers increased the residential dwellings in town substantially. The cotton mill had more than doubled in size by 1910. The mill complexes eventually encompassed 270,000 square feet, with 45,684 spindles, 1,025 looms, and approximately 500 employees at the peak. The Woodruff Cotton Mill merged with the Brandon and Poinsett Mills of Greenville to form the Brandon Corporation in 1928. Textile industrialist John Pope “Jack” Abney of Abney Mills purchased the cotton mill in 1946, becoming the Abney Mill. John Perkins Industries purchased the mill from Abney Mills in the mid-1990s naming it Mount Vernon Mills. Mount Vernon Mills operated the mill until it closed in 1995. A massive fire in 2001 destroyed the mill structure.

The W. S. Gray Cotton Mill was built and in operation by 1908. This mill originally produced yarn. The mill was sold to Mills Mill Plant No. 2 of Greenville in 1923. After the acquisition, the mill was converted to producing shirting and dress goods. At the time of conversion, the mill had 27,000 spindles and 600 looms. The mill employed around 600 people.

The Woodruff Cotton Mill and the W. S. Gray Cotton Mill were the two primary employers in the city for decades.

In 1889, a town fire department was formed. The fire department was known as the “The Bucket Brigade.” Water lines and sewer lines were laid through the city in 1915. The freshwater was provided by seven deep wells. This was certainly an indication of population growth and public health concerns. Woodruff’s main street was paved in 1923. The State of South Carolina took over Main Street in 1929 and designated it State Highway 10. This was later taken over by the federal government and designated U.S. Highway 221. This was the first all-weather road through Woodruff that granted the population the ability to travel year-round to the mountains or ocean.

The arrival of the railroad expanded agricultural cultivation in the area. The railroad made raising cotton much more profitable with the expanded markets. Another boom to agriculture was the improved and expanded highway system that evolved after the turn of the 20th century. This expanded road network allowed farmers to access even more markets.

Even with a cotton glut in the 1880s, cotton was still a popular cultivation crop in the region through the 20th century. The 1880s also ushered in textile manufacturing in the region, which slowly transformed the labor market from agrarian to manufacturing. Technological improvements also improved farming, thus requiring less labor. The advent of synthetic fibers after World War II began to negatively affect cotton production. Synthetic fibers and international cotton production overtook domestic apparel textile production to such an extent that by the conclusion of the 1970s, cotton fiber was outsold by polyester fiber in the United States.

Textile production in the region began to decline in the 1960s and 1970s. Low-priced imported textiles and synthetic fibers radically affected the textile industry in the 1980s and 1990s. By 1990, in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, over 95% of the looms were removed from production.

As with any community that was dependent on a limited number of businesses or industries, the decline of the textile industry and farming greatly harmed Woodruff’s economy. However, the economic base of Woodruff and Spartanburg County bounced back quicker than many communities that have been faced similar circumstances. The improved road network, especially the proximity of U.S. Interstate 26, has opened new avenues for economic growth. Probably most impactful has been the economic growth of Spartanburg and Greenville and how that economic prosperity has expanded to surrounding suburbs. The focus on recruiting and incentivizing diverse industries to the region has made the economy much stronger and more resilient to economic downturns. As a result of this thriving regional economy and road system, there has been a housing boom for the Woodruff area as commuters to both Spartanburg and Greenville seek solutions to housing needs.

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