Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Even though it was the closest thing to civilization for miles around, early Spartanburg was far from civilized. Stories abound about these "wild west" days from the 1780s to the 1850s, when the village was much closer to the American frontier.

Supposedly a couple of Charleston lawyers once had business that brought them to the Spartanburg Courthouse. After an arduous journey of several days through wooded hillsides and treacherous muddy roads, they finally made it to the courthouse square where they found lodging between a couple of saloons. Since it was around dusk already, they bedded down for the night and went to sleep. They were awoken in the middle of the night by a crowd of a dozen or more drunk locals whooping and hollaring in the middle of the square. Just as the two gentlemen lawyers got to the windows to see the commotion, the crowd grew even more unruly and started firing their guns into the air with wild abandon. Astonished and frightened for their lives, the two hunkered down for the night and departed at daybreak, determined to escape this bastion of lawlessness and immorality without delay... court affairs be damned.

The laws entered into the books also give a glimpse of some of the other problems with Spartanburg's unruly population. The flat stretch of East Main Street, between Converse Street and Pine Street apparently was popular among young men who would race their horses without regard to pedestrians and other traffic. It is so surprising then, that this area would give birth to NASCAR in later years?

The large number of downtown saloons, the unruly population, and the complete lack of churches in downtown Spartanburg resulted in one visitor (possibly one of the Charlestonians) labeling Spartanburg "that wicked little village."

Although the saloons stuck around--to say nothing of the unruly population--Spartanburg presumably ceased being wicked by the mid-1830s, when Baptist and Methodist congregations were formed nearly simultaneously.

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