“Saint Matthew’s Wants a Courthouse”

Charleston News and Courier, June 22, 1891.

Within the past four or five years a great deal of attention has been directed to the thriving and prosperous town of St. Matthew’s and just at this time the place is growing with remarkable rapidity. The situation of St. Matthew’s is almost perfect, and while it retains to some extent the “taint and travail of antiquity”, it has all the earmarks of progressive ideas and achievement. 

St. Matthew’s was incorporated about 1870, when the location was selected on account of its being in the centre of a fertile belt. Good schools were instituted in St. Matthew’s about the same time. The place grew slowly, and notwithstanding the fact that the South Carolina Railway passes through the place, it was only a very small country village until about eight or ten years ago. A greater portion of the trade that belonged legitimately to St. Matthew’s was, and is now to some extent given to Orangeburg, the county seat; but that trade will all come to St. Matthew’s as soon as we secure the proposed new county of Calhoun. There is a movement on foot now to form a joint stock company and erect a 2,500 school building at this place, and it will undoubtedly be a success. The building will be ready to be occupied by September. St. Matthew’s is not a very large place now, but it has a healthy climate and a homogeneous, thrifty, pushing population.

It has long been conceded that Orangeburg County is one among the best agricultural sections in the State, that its fertile hills, plains, and valleys respond to the touch of the farmer as nicely as in any part of the state. St. Matthew’s is situated in the centre of the richest section of Orangeburg County, and has, therefor, all the agricultural advantages that could be desired. Cotton and corn are the staple products, while rice, oats, rye, and all other cereals are produced around very largely. Hay and all sorts of forage grow in this section in profusion, while fruits of all kinds are thrown in for good measure. The climatic conditions of this section are especially conducive to the production of fine crops and moreover to the good health of the masses. In the matter of healthfulness the people of St. Matthew’s have exceptional advantages. The water is very good here and the natural drainage of the town and surrounding country is unexcelled. There is scarcely any serious sickness and epidemics of any kind are not known in this section. In short, the health of St. Matthew’s is one of its strong points. The atmosphere, generally speaking, is crisp, dry, and invigorating. To the seeker after health, to those to those who desire farming hands, to those who seek a first-class commercial centre, to those whose desire is to establish industries of any sort, St. Matthew’s offers advantages seldom found.

There is little to be said about the railroad advantages as we have a poor and uncomfortable depot, but it is not the fault of the people of St. Matthew’s, for they have struggled and striven to get the railroad company to erect a new and commodious depot here, but the railroad officials have thus far refused to give in. The business done by the railroad at this place is very large, well warranting a new and elegant depot. It would not only be a great advantage to the business people of this place, but it would add to the convenience and comfort of this whole country and would tend to increase the railroads business. 

St. Matthew’s will be in the future a large manufacturing centre. Already, since the new county movement has been started, a large cotton factory is being prominently spoken of by our thriving business men, and it is generally known that a canning factory will be started here this winter. The St. Matthew’s Manufacturing and Ware House Company has been pronounced by prominent mechanics to be one of the very best in the State. It is built of brick, admirably constructed, and very conveniently situated, right opposite of the depot. During the cotton season it is kept busy all the time, and its output of crude cotton and oil meal and fertilizers is sold as fast as manufactured. F.J. Buyck is president, and C.F. Zeigler superintendent. The largest portion of the stock of the company is owned in St. Matthew’s. It earned last season over 10 per cent on its capital stock of $25,000. The directors have declared a dividend of 5 per cent. The oldest grist mill and ginnery of this place is owned and conducted by Col. A.P. Amaker. This mill has been in successful operation for more than fifteen years, and it still receives a liberal patronage.

There are four or five saw mills in and near St. Matthew’s. The first belongs to Mr. C.F. Zeigler, and is situated in the western part of the town. He also has a planning machine connected with his saw mill. All kinds of lumber are planed planed by this machine and shipped to various points in this State. The other mills are near the town, and are owned by J.A. Banks, J.E. Wannamaker, Jessie Zeigler, and I.H. Zimmerman, who have a full share of the lumber business here. 

St. Matthew’s now has three machine shops, which do a very large business, and the outlook for a steady increase in this direction is very bright. 

It is generally known that St. Matthew’s does more business than any other town in South Carolina of the same size. In 1875 the cotton receipts amounted to about 3,000 bales. Fifteen years later, during the past year, the cotton receipts from this place amounted to about 15,000 bales. In the last decade the volume of trade in St. Matthew’s has grown from $100,000 to 800,000. These are facts and figures that cannot be controverted. 

It will be proper here to show in succession what has been done by the business men of St. Matthew’s in the establishment of various enterprises. First comes the St. Matthews Savings Bank, which was established in August 1889, and has up to this time done a prosperous business. The officers of the bank are: P. Rich, Sr., president; J.E. Wannamaker, vice president; J.W. Zimmerman, cashier; W.F. Spigener, assistant cashier; and the following directors: W.T.C. Bates, F.J. Buyck, J.H. Loryea, W.P. Cain, and J.A. Banks. The bank has never lost a cent and has been up to this time a paying investment.

Another institution that is having a great deal to do with building up St. Matthew’s and its trade is the St. Matthew’s Building and Loan Association, which was established in December, 1889. The officers of the association are: J.H. Loryea, president; Dr. W.L. Pou, vice president; J.W. Zimmerman, secretary and treasurer; Philip Rich, Sr., W.T.C. Bates, E. Wimberly, W.L. Pou, L.M. Whaley, prosperous condition. The money id sold at a good premium. 

The largest mercantile establishment in St. Matthew’s is that of F.J. Buyck & Co’s, in the centre of the business of the business part of town. It is built of brick and is two stories high. The store is handsomely fitted up in every way and will compare with any store of the same size between Charleston and Columbia. The firm is composed of excellent business men and does a very large cash and credit business.

The firm of Banks & Wimberly, retail dealers in groceries, plantation supplies, hardware, dry goods, clothing, shoes, millinery, notions, glassware, tinware, furniture, and in fact, everything else found in a well regulated mercantile establishment. 

J.H. Loryea does a very large business in all lines of merchandise. He occupies a store on the corner of Bridge Street and East Railroad Avenue, and in this everything that can be desired at home, on farm, on railroad, or anywhere else may be purchased. Mr. Loryea stands very high financially and is president of the St. Matthew’s Building and Loan Association. 

Dr. H.N. Fair is the leading druggist here, and he does a large and lucrative business. Dr. Fair is a prosperous, progressive, business man, fully alive to the demands of this progressive age. His establishment is one of the most attractive here, and in it can be found everything that a first-class drug establishment keeps. In connection with his drug store he keeps a full line of choice fancy groceries. During the summer months Dr. Fair makes a specialty of ice cold soda water and milkshakes, of which he sells in abundance. He also keeps a nice line of school books. On room No. 3 in Dr. Fair’s store will be found the office of Drs. W.L. Pou and L.B. Bates. They are two prominent physicians of this place. 

Jarecky, who is one of the enterprising merchants here, does a large and extensive trade in groceries, plantation supplies, dry goods, hardware, furniture, shoes, hats, and caps. Hid store occupies a space twenty feet long and twenty-five feet wide. 

Lewishon deals in groceries, fruits, dry goods, hats, and notions. He recently moved here from Germany, but still has his share of trade, and it is increasing.

W.P. Cain & Co., an old established firm are dealers in all kinds of merchandise, such as groceries, dry goods, clothing, shoes, hats, caps, notions, hardware, and furniture. This store occupies a space about ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and two stories. The store is an ornament to St. Matthew’s. Mr. Cain is the owner of one of St. Matthew’s handsome hotels, which is situated in the northwestern part of town. 

Jarecky keeps a general merchandise store and does a very nice business.

Jacobson &Son, another enterprising and progressive firm, do a thriving and extensive business. They keep on hand an elegant stock of clothing, dry goods, millinery, shoes, hardware, furniture, groceries, and liquors of all kinds.

Cleckley & Robinson, colored, one of our new firms, do a large business. The firm is composed of C.D. Clerkley and George Robinson.

Smith & Co. have just established themselves here in the liquor business.

The firm Herlong & Co., retail dealers in groceries, plantation supplies, hardware, dry goods, shoes and hats, do a large a large business. The company is composed of D.W. Herlong, D.D. Herlong, and J.W. Buyck, all of whom are excellent business men.

Mr. J.W. Buyck is the proprietor of Buyck’s Hotel. The hotel is situated on the eastern end of Bridge Street. It is a commodious building with large rooms. J.W.B. Chaplin, another enterprising and progressive business man, does a thriving and increasing business. He keeps the largest saloon in the place He also keeps on hand a stock of clothing, dry goods, shoes, hardware, and groceries.

T.L. Byuck & Co., another newly established firm, are dealers in all kinds of merchandise. Their establishment is in the centre of the business section of the town and is well stocked.

  1. Elosser deals in general merchandise, fruits, and vegetables, and he always keeps fresh baker’s bread on hand.

S.M. Weatherhorn deals altogether in liquors and cigars.

Lewis Herlong is another saloon-keeper. He also sells ice.

Autley & Prickett are dealers in groceries, dry goods, millinery, and plantation supplies. The firm is composed of J.D. Autley and F.M. Prickett. Mr. Prickett is the postmaster here. 

Next is the establishment of Drs. Able &Able, physicians and druggists. The men who compose this firm are Drs. A.R. and L.M. Able. They are both progressive men, who take an interest in everything that pertains to the welfare of St. Matthew’s and Calhoun County.

L.B. Rast deals in general merchandise and has a well established business. 

St. Matthew’s can also boast a fine livery and sales stables as any town in the state outside of Charleston and Columbia. These stables are owned and conducted by Geo. W Arthur. The principle business firms have been given above, but there are a few others which claim their share of the trade. Here are their names and business: G.V. Patrick, groceries and beef market; D.F. Joyner general merchandise; and W.L. Buyck, beef market.

There is really very little need of any physicians here, but all healthy places are generally supplied with them. St Matthew’s has its share of good physicians, and their names are as follows: W.L. Pou, L.B. Bates, A.R. Able, and L.M. Able. Dr. W.H. Ott is the only dentist here and he has his office neatly fitted up.

There are also two lawyers here who do a very large business. Their names are: M.O. Dantzler and J.B. McLauchlin. 

There are a few gentlemen here who are agents. Here is a list of their names: J.H. Loryea, life and fire insurance; Wheeler and Wilson, sewing machines; J.W. Zimmerman , life insurance; Buyck and Co., fertilizers; and Banks & Womberly, fertilizers. 

St. Matthew’s is sufficiently supplied with churches , and her people, generally speaking, are church going citizens. There are two white churches here, the Baptist and Methodist. The Rev. D.H. Crosland is pastor of the Baptist church, and the Rev. W.P. Meadors is pastor of the Methodist church. The Young Men’s Christian Association here is in a flourishing condition. Its officers are J.W. Zimmerman , president; John McLauchlin, vice president; J.R. Paulling, secretary; and P.P. Patrick, treasurer.

Another progressive enterprise is that of the St. Matthew’s Herald, edited by G.J. Brown. The Herald has a large circulation and is becoming very popular in this section. 

Recently the citizens of St. Matthew’s assembled in a mass meeting to decide the matter of having a grade school here. It was voted down. Immediately after this meeting several of the citizens decided to join a joint stock company and to build a handsome school house and employ teachers to manage it. All the stock has been subscribed and the building will soon begin. At present there is a well-regulated academy here under the management of the Rev. D.H. Crossland, who has his assistant, Miss Winnie Wroe. The high school of this place is a well-regulated institution and is under the management of Prof. W.S. Murray. Miss Lillie Malone also has a small school.

It will be seen from the foregoing sketch of the industries, manufactures, and other causes of the remarkable growth of  St. Matthew’s that there is every reason to predict that the town is just now commencing on its era of prosperity. No one who has visited St. Matthew’s in the past few years will deny that the place is built on a sound, substantial basis. It is not surprising, therefore that the real estate is increasing in value very fast. The people here are holding onto their land, but still there is always some for sale. It is as good as gold and a safe investment, even at advanced prices. There are two tracts of land two tracts of land that have been divided into convenient lots, one is in the southeastern portion of town, owned by T.A. Amaker, who has subdivided into handsome lots of seventy feet front and one hundred and fifty feet deep. The streets that have divided these lots are all seventy feet wide. Several of these lots have been sold, but still there are several desirable ones on the market. Handsome buildings are now being erected on some of them. The other tract is on the western side of town, and is under the management of W.H. Pennon. He has it divided into handsome building lots. His streets have been laid off with three rows of trees, which are very attractive.                                              

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