Organized in 1888 by the industrialist John H. Montgomery, the home builder W. C. Burnett, and other upcountry business leaders, Spartan Mills was the first textile mill built within Spartanburg city limits. In 1889 Spartan Mills merged with Whitfield Mills of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in an agreement whereby all machinery from Whitfield was shipped to Spartanburg. The first mill began operations in 1890 with thirty thousand spindles and eleven hundred looms, making it the largest mill in the state at that time. In addition to the factory, 150 mill homes were built in a surrounding village called Montgomeryville. The Carolina Spartan compared the mills to “a city on a hill, or rather several of them,” and residents in and around the city began to keep track of time by the sound of the Spartan Mills whistle.
In 1896 a second mill was constructed with a capacity of 40,000 spindles and the new capability of producing narrow print cloth. Walter S. Montgomery succeeded his father as president of the company in 1902, and he was succeeded by his son, Walter, in 1929. Spartan Mills later absorbed South Carolina factories including Whitney, Tucapau, Beaumont, Powell Mill, and Niagra. In the 1970s, under the presidency of Walter S. Montgomery, Jr., Spartan Mills grew to include thirteen plants and five thousand employees. The company was renamed Spartan International in 2000 and ceased operations in 2001.
Carlton, David L. Mill and Town in South Carolina, 1880–1920. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.
Stokes, Allen H. “John H. Montgomery: A Pioneer Southern Industrialist.” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1967.
Teter, Betsy Wakefield, ed. Textile Town: Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Spartanburg, S.C.: Hub City Writers Project, 2002.