The Camperdown Mills were the first of the modern textile mills to be opened within the corporate boundaries of the City of Greenville and the first in Greenville county whose principal purpose was to manufacture and export cotton yarns to other areas of the United States.
In 1873 New Englanders Oscar Sampson and his son-in-law, George S. Hall, leased the old Vardry McBee mill on the west side of the Reedy River from McBee’s heirs. The mill, later known as Camperdown Mill #1, was remodeled and enlarged. Camperdown #1 began operations as a spinning mill in June 1874.
In May 1875 Sampson negotiated another lease agreement with the McBee heirs for land on the east side of the Reedy River on which the owners agreed to build a new larger mill, Camperdown Mill #2, and a picker house. Camperdown #2 began spinning operations in December 1875.
A mill village of what eventually would include 119 homes and a boarding house was started soon afterwards on property adjacent to Camperdown #2.
The two mills operated under the name of Sampson, Hall & Company until January 1876 when the company was re-organized as The Camperdown Mills Company, a joint-stock venture. The stockholders included a number of prominent Greenville citizens – Thomas M. Cox, Hamlin Beattie, Alexander McBee, T. Q. Donaldson, W. T. Shumate and H. C. Markley and others. With the re-organization Sampson became company president. Later presidents of the company were John A. Sanford, Colonel H. P. Hammett and Hamlin Beattie.
In 1903 Charles E. Graham, owner of the local Huguenot Mill, purchased the Camperdown Mills and the surrounding property from the McBee heirs and chartered The Camperdown Mill Company as a private company.Graham brought in new equipment including Draper looms and by 1904 was producing gingham and plaid fabrics
By 1907 Camperdown #2 was running three shifts with good production and Graham leased Camperdown #1 to another company. Upon Graham’s death in 1922, his son Alan assumed the presidency of the company.
In 1930, Alan Graham sold The Camperdown Mill Company, then consisting of Camperdown Mill #2 and the mill village property to Sydney Bruce Sr. and Haygood Bruce of Pickens county. The Bruce family successfully ran the mill producing a wide variety of popular gingham and plaid fabrics.
In 1956 Camperdown ceased operations, an early victim of the increasing import of cloth and finished garments from Asia and South America.
For additional history on Camperdown please visit the Camperdown Mills Historical Society website