FORT MILL HISTORY
Take a walk through Fort Mill’s historic downtown and you can step back in time. Some of the buildings on Main Street date back to the late 1800s and provide evidence of the growth of the business district during this period in time.
The Catawba Indians made their homes here for many years. In the mid-1700s, Thomas Spratt and his wife, Elizabeth, were traveling through upper South Carolina in their wagon. They spent a night among the friendly Catawba Indians. The Catawbas invited the Spratts to live in the area, offering them a large tract of land on which to settle. They became the first white settlers in the Fort Mill area, and their descendants still live here.
Both settlers and the Catawbas used the ancient Nation Ford Road, which dates to at least 1650, to travel and trade from Pennsylvania to Charles Towne (now Charleston, SC). The trail passed through the Catawba Nation’s five villages and crossed the Catawba River where the railroad trestle now stands.
Scotch-Irish settlers began arriving in the 1750s and 1760s, and a small settlement soon developed. Fort Mill grew rapidly in the 1800s as textile mills were established.
The town gets its name from a colonial-era fort started but never finished by the British, and a grist mill on nearby Steele Creek.
Even though that mill has long since been reduced to a few foundation stones, Fort Mill has a wealth of historic and interesting places to visit. It also has a unique perspective on neighborliness that survives to this day. The original fort, for example, was intended to protect the Indians.