Town Of Williston13112 Main St, Williston, SC 29853
History : Williston was founded in the early nineteenth century by the descendants of an early settler, Robert Willis. Growth occurred rapidly following the establishment of a railroad running from Charleston to Augusta. On Christmas Day, 1833 the locomotive "Best Friend" made the first trip along the 136 mile route, averaging 12 miles per hour! At the time the longest railroad in the world, by the mid-1840s over 100,000 bales of cotton a year were being shipped along it to Charleston. Farms soon sprung up along the route, and Williston soon became an important station stop. During the Civil War Union forces under Sherman made a concerted effort to cut and then destroy the rail line, which was an important supply route from the interior to Charleston. On February 8, 1865, Major-General Kilpatrick, the commander of the Union Cavalry, reached Williston. He set up a headquarters in the Ashley-Chapman House and, pushing on, fought a sharp skirmish with Confederate forces guarding the rail line two miles west of the center of town near White Pond. Units of the First Alabama Cavalry were badly routed and a number of baffle flags captured. Over the next several days successive Union forces moved into and through Williston on their way to Columbia tearing up the railroad ties and track in their wake. Much of the town was burned as they left, with only the Ashley-Chapman house and a nearby house where a woman had just given birth spared. Shermans comments on the matter were we dont burn occupied houses, but if people vacate their own houses I dont think they should expect us to protect them." Kilpatrick is reputed to have said that when he got through, Barnwell County would have to be renamed "Burn well." Many honored dead from the war are buried in the town cemetery. Major rebuilding occurred in the years during and following Reconstruction, as fanning came back, and many of the homes around the town date from this period. In the early twentieth century it was discovered that local conditions were ideal for asparagus, and until the early 1930s more asparagus was grown and shipped from the Williston area than from any other part of the country, earning the town the nickname The Asparagus Capitol of the World. Unfortunately, California gradually captured the market, and only now are asparagus crops being reestablished locally. The first phone system in Williston was established in 1905 and had ten subscribers. City waterlines were built in 1917, and electric power was established in 1919 (at first only available from 5PM to midnight). The high school, built in 1925 and now housing administrative offices, is one of the oldest buildings of its kind in the state. The establishment of the Savannah River Plant by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission caused population to boom, from 896 in 1950 to almost 10,000 a few years later. Once construction ceased, however, many of the workers moved on, and population stabilized near its present level of just over 3,000. Home to a number of large and small businesses, beautiful homes and gardens, pleasant people, and tranquil neighborhoods, Williston is a quiet, peaceful town. The Williston Tricentennial Committee compiled a History of Williston, South Carolina in 1970. The contents of that historical narrative are included below with links provided to each chapter. Note: The information may be outdated due to the time that has passed since the publication of this narrative.