Businesses in Liberty’s first year included four stores, a hotel, a steam sawmill, two blacksmith shops, and an academy.
(Pickens County; 2020 pop. 3,150). In the 1870s the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad was built through rural Pickens County and spawned several small towns. Local landowner Catherine Templeton deeded a right-of-way to the railroad, and by 1874 local residents had constructed the first depot at what was then called Liberty Station. In the Pickens Sentinel of September 9, 1875, the widow Templeton advertised part of her property to be divided into lots and sold. These lots became the business section of the town of Liberty, which was incorporated on March 2, 1876. The town name was often thought to have originated as a corruption of “Salubrity,” a local farm and spring that gave the name to a post office in 1839. However, antebellum land records mention a Liberty Spring and a church in the area that became the town of Liberty. The Liberty Post Office was created in 1873 and coexisted for nearly three years with Salubrity, the two being about a mile apart. Salubrity Post Office was discontinued in early 1876.
Businesses in Liberty’s first year included four stores, a hotel, a steam sawmill, two blacksmith shops, and an academy. The Brown House offered room and board for teachers, railroad men, traveling preachers, and business travelers beginning in 1893. Other early establishments included a millinery shop and dressmakers in the 1880s, a cotton-seed-oil mill in 1895, a livery stable and new depot in 1896, and a wagon factory in 1897. By 1900 the population of Liberty had reached 368. The first decade of the twentieth century saw two banks and a drugstore open, as well as textile mills. The Woodside Liberty Plant began in 1901, and a second plant, originally the Calumet Mill, was built in 1905.
State funds supported teachers at Liberty School as early as 1837, and two “colored schools” were on record in 1870. Early Liberty churches included the Presbyterians’ 1883 structure and the African Methodist Episcopal congregation’s Robinson Chapel in 1886.
Business openings in town reflected the changing lives of a rural population. Year by year establishments included more services and products for daily life, such as service stations, dry cleaners, and more grocery stores in the 1920s; the first bus station in the 1930s; and several beauty shops, a car dealership, and a library in the 1940s. The increasing complexity of modern life was reflected in the addition of such businesses as Liberty’s first income tax service and first trailer park in the 1950s and a child care center in the 1960s. The relocation of Ohio Gear to Liberty in 1964 added employment opportunities. A town official in 1986 characterized Liberty as a “bedroom town” to the nearby city of Greenville, but one offering diversity to its residents.
Woodson, Julia Jean, and Anne G. Sheriff. Liberty, South Carolina: One Hundred Years, 1876–1976. Greenville, S.C.: A Press, 1992.