McKissick’s career in textiles began in 1899, when he began working as an engineer for the Pelzer Manufacturing Company, where his father-in-law served as president. In 1902 McKissick became president of Grendel Cotton Mills in Greenwood.
The McKissick family has been an important force in the textile industry in the upstate since the early twentieth century. Anthony Foster McKissick (1869–1938) was born on June 10, 1869, in Union, the son of Isaac Going McKissick, a lawyer and state legislator, and Sarah Foster. He graduated from South Carolina College in 1889 and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University in 1895. On December 17, 1891, McKissick married Margaret Adger Smyth (1870–1948), daughter of the textile pioneer Ellison Adger Smyth. From 1891 to 1898 McKissick taught electrical engineering and physics at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, where he did some of the earliest research in the South on X-rays and the transmission of electric power and its application to farming.
McKissick’s career in textiles began in 1899, when he began working as an engineer for the Pelzer Manufacturing Company, where his father-in-law served as president. In 1902 McKissick became president of Grendel Cotton Mills in Greenwood. He joined Ninety Six Cotton Mill as a vice president a few years later and became president of that mill in 1908. McKissick sold his interests in these mills by 1918, temporarily retired from the textile business, and moved from Greenwood to Greenville County. While in Greenville, he served in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1923 to 1926. In 1923, in partnership with his only son, Ellison, Foster McKissick bought Alice Mill in Easley, making substantial improvements to that property. They renamed it the Alice Manufacturing Company. In 1928 Alice Manufacturing Company built another mill between Easley and Pickens. Anthony Foster McKissick retired, again, later that year. He died in Greenville on April 8, 1938.
Ellison Smyth McKissick (1892–1966) was born on September 14, 1892, in Greenville. He attended Woodberry Forest School and Alabama Polytechnic Institute, graduating in June 1915 with a B.S. in civil engineering. He went to work for his father at Grendel, but in 1917 Ellison joined the army and served in World War I, where he was promoted to captain. Returning to Greenville, McKissick went to work for J. E. Sirrine and Company, one of the state’s leading textile engineering and design firms. He married Jean Reamsbottom on September 1, 1920, and they had four children. He retired in 1953 and died in Greenville on January 30, 1966.
Ellison Smyth “Bubby” McKissick, Jr. (1928–1998), was born on July 29, 1928, in Greenville, the youngest of his parents’ four children. He graduated from Greenville High School and attended Clemson University and Presbyterian College. After completing a tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, McKissick became treasurer of Alice Manufacturing Company in 1953 and was made president two years later. He married Noel Caroline Parker of Greenville on February 19, 1955. They had three children. McKissick oversaw the expansion of the company in the 1950s, including the construction of new mills in Pickens County. He became a national spokesman for the textile industry, serving as president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He retired in 1988, turning over the presidency of Alice Manufacturing Company to his son, Ellison Smyth McKissick III. Ellison Smyth McKissick, Jr., died in Greenville on June 27, 1998.
Graydon, Nell S., Augustus T. Graydon, and Margaret McKissick Davis, eds.
The McKissicks of South Carolina: The Stories of a Piedmont Family and Related Lines. Columbia, S.C., 1965.
Lunan, Bert, and Robert A. Pierce. Legacy of Leadership. Columbia: South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, 1999.