HISTORY OF SIX MILE, SC
The area now known as Six Mile once belonged to the Cherokee Nation. A popular legend says that Six Mile was named by the Indian maiden, Issaqueena, who rode her horse on a journey of ninety-six miles to warn her lover, an English trader named Francis Allen, of a coming Cherokee attack on the fort where he was staying called Star Fort. Issaqueena numbered the creeks she crossed until she reached the fort in the area she labeled Ninety Six. There is a town called Ninety Six, and many other “number names” on the path to it; these include Mile Creek, Six Mile, Twelve Mile River, and Six and Twenty Creek. According to the legend, Issaqueena succeeded in warning Allen and they married and had a child, only later to be pursued by, and escape, the Cherokee. This tale is similar to many of Six Mile’s other legendary events in that it stresses courage, bravery, ingenuity, and determination.
In 1777, Six Mile was signed over to South Carolina in a treaty. The “rugged terrain” of this region was not settled until about 1800 when Scots-Irish, Dutch-German, and English pioneers slowly moved in, cleared the land, and planted crops. One of the main reasons for this early settlement was that Six Mile was located along the Keowee Path, “one of the most famous trading paths in our nation”. This path guided the first settlers to the region; and at first there were just a dozen families until about thirty more followed. The early settlers left a legacy of “integrity, industry, and independence” characterized by settling business deals with handshakes and helping one’s neighbors that can be seen in residents today.
There were no businesses for several years, but by 1836, Six Mile Baptist Church had been founded, and 1878 brought the town’s first post office. The community was incorporated in 1910, and a few establishments including saw mills, blacksmith, welding, barber shops, furniture stores, groceries, service stations, and a mortuary began to spring up over the next few decades. Six Mile was chiefly a farming community until World War II when many men went overseas to fight and still others moved to bigger cities to obtain jobs. After the war, it became unprofitable to grow cotton, and textile mills began to spring up around the area. Again, Six Mile lost some residents to jobs in other counties. Employment opportunities usually require traveling out of town, and the number of businesses has gone down since automobiles have become available. Six Mile has become a community with strong ties to larger cities where townspeople find more jobs, goods, and services.
The modern strength of valuing education had early roots. In the early 1900′s, the townspeople of Six Mile organized to petition the Southern Baptist Convention to build a school in their community. Despite the Convention’s reluctance, the residents did not back down, and the Six Mile Baptist Academy was established in 1910. Six Mile is now home to the very modern Six Mile Elementary School.
There is one person in a small town that shines above others and that person is Dr. David E. Peek. Dr. Peek established the first hospital in Pickens County in the town of Six Mile as an example of ingenuity. Dr. Peek and his wife moved to Six Mile from North Carolina and established the 15-bed hospital in 1925. Dr. Peek outgrew his 15-bed hospital, so he bought the girls’ dormitory left over from the closing of the Six Mile Baptist Academy, for $1900 and turned it into a forty-bed hospital which is now Six Mile Retirement Center. “Dr. Peek had a life-long dream to build a big, beautiful, new hospital on top of Six Mile Mountain,which overlooks the town.” He did get as far as building a nurse’s quarters for the hospital on top of Six Mile Mountain, but “shortly after its completion in 1942, Dr. Peek, only in his early 50′s died of a heart attack”. “When Dr. Peek died, so did his dream of a hospital on top of Six Mile Mountain. At one time, Pickens County was home to more Congressional Medal of Honor winners than any county in the Nation (there were only 27 in the whole country), and three of these four men were from Six Mile.
A devastating tornado roared through Six Mile on the night of March 13, 1929. This was the greatest blow ever to hit Six Mile or Pickens County. Nine people were killed, five elementary students, one high school student and three adults. Those killed in the storm are buried in two large graves at Six Mile Baptist Church. It is reported that after the storm, within thirty minutes, “hundreds of citizens rushed to the stricken community and offered any aid as they could give.” This continued for days despite heavy rain and nearly impossible roads.
In the 1960′s, Duke Power began construction of a power generating complex, that would be the largest of its kind in the world, within a few miles of Six Mile. The presence of this mammoth complex was expected to turn Six Mile into an urban metropolis, and plans were drawn for a “dream city” of over 100,000 people very close by. Fortunately this has not happened and Six Mile has remained much as it always was. Although there has been several waves of new residents, the town is still populated by descendants of the original settlers. As said by Bill Holder, a citizen of Six Mile, “if you ever come to Six Mile and stay for a month, you’ll never leave. People down here got hearts.”
Sources: V. Mitchell 2002 / Grant, Richardson and Griffin 1999 / Stewart Robertson 1985 / Gorham Mitchell 1989 / Lyle 1990
The climate is mild and temperate with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Winters are moderate with an average monthly temperature of 43. Snowfall occurs each winter, but significant amounts come only once every two or three years. Spring is a period of transition with March the month for heavy rains. As the showers decrease, a secondary dry period occurs late in April and early May. Steady rains typical of winter are likely in early spring. The average date of the last spring freeze falls around the end of March, which gives the area a growing season of approximately 180-200 days. Summers are warm and long with the average temperatures hovering around 79. Temperatures reach 90 on an average of 48 days a year. Six Mile’s warm and pleasant autumn is the driest season of the year with the first frost usually occurring the first week of November.
The 2010 census showed a population of 675; this is a 21% growth increase since the 2000 census. The Town’s residents are employed in a variety of occupations ranging from professors, teachers, auto mechanics, government officials, textile employees, accountants,manufacturers, merchants & students.