Rock Hill

Alexander Black Sr. had a plantation lying on the waters of the Catawba River and Moore’s Branch. Other property of his included a farm north of New York City. He was Scotch-Irish, and came from Northern Ireland shortly before the American Revolution. He is known to have three sons, all veterans of the Revolutionary War. William Black (~1756 – 1780) was captured by the British in Georgia and incarcerated in a battleship in Charles Town Harbor. He was killed by poisoning at the age of 24. Alexander Black Jr. (1764-1812) was a fife in Sumter’s brigade, and was 16 when he fought alongside his other brother, Joseph, at the battle of Kings Mountain. Alexander Black Jr. married Isabella Wilson (~1768-1812), who was a sibling of James Wilson (1742-1798), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and assisted in writing the final draft of the United States Constitution and signer for the state of Pennsylvania. Alexander Black Jr. and Isabella Wilson Black had a son named Alexander Templeton Black (1798-1878) who is dubbed as the founding father of Rock Hill. Alexander T. Black donated four acres of land inherited to him by his father for the railroad track and a train depot previously surveyed at Ebenezerville. Construction began on the Charlotte and Columbia Railroad in 1847. Rock Hill got its name from “an immense quantity of flint rock imbedded on a hill” that was difficult to grade for the railroad track and depot. An extraordinary amount of digging and blasting was needed to lay the tracks. On November 6th and 7th, 1851, Squire John Roddey surveyed and laid out a town with 23 lots on 448.5 acres along one street running perpendicular to the railroad tracks. A U. S. Post Office was established near the railroad tracks on April 17th, 1852. The railroad tracks would extend to the northeast to the Catawba River. Horace Nims, who would later lay the granite foundation of the present South Carolina Statehouse, built granite pylons for a railroad bridge across historic Nations Ford.


Mrs. Ann Hutchinson White (Jan. 9th, 1805 – June 21st, 1880) was a daughter of David Hutchinson and married George White in 1830. Ann White was born on her father’s plantation “acquired by the state from the Catawba Indians”. In 1854, she donated a 250-acre tract of land for a school that would become the Rock Hill Academy. More land was donated to the northeast of her plantation home to become the Pine Grove Academy two years later.

In 1856, Squire John Roddey was asked to complete a second survey of Rock Hill to increase its size. A street to the south of Main Street was to be called Church Street and a Methodist church was to be build on land adjacent to this street. St. John’s Methodist became the first church in Rock Hill, and still holds services today. In 1858, Templeton Black, son of Alexander Templeton Black, Jr., donated 9/10ths of an acre for the Presbyterians to build a church on Main Street. This church is known today as First Presbyterian Church.

After living scattered in North Carolina and elsewhere, the Catawba Indians came back to the western banks of the Catawba River in the latter-1850’s. The State had bought back land from white settlers known as the “Old Reservation” and gave it to the Catawba’s.

At the end of the 1850’s, Rock Hill had a newspaper, the Indian Land Chronicle, two churches, two schools, social groups, a small theater company, and was a center for the area shipping cotton. Wagons of cotton came into the city from miles around, farmers socialized with other farmers, and Indians sold pottery. Rock Hill’s population was 100.

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