Dexter Edgar Converse

Glendale and Spartanburg, SC
Dexter Edward Converse (1828 – 1899)

Converse was born in Swanton, Vermont, the son of Olin and Louisa Converse. He was a direct descendent of Edmund Converse who arrived in 1630 with Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts. His father was a woolen manufacturer, but died when Dexter was only three. An uncle in Canada, who was also in the woolen business, raised him. At age 21, he accepted a position in a cotton mill in Cohoes, NY owned by another uncle, Winslow Twichell. While there he fell in love with a cousin, Helen Twichell, and married. At age 26, they moved to Lincolnton, NC to accept the position of superintendent. He left within the year in February 1855 to move to Bivingsville (now Glendale), SC. Unfortunately, the mill was failing, but that brought an opportunity to become part owner in a bankruptcy sale. His claim to fame was his civic spirit, which made him invaluable to the Spartanburg community. During the War Between the States, many people feared the loyalty of this Yankee, so he and his brother­in­law, Albert Twichell, enlisted in the Confederate Army. However, his employees asked him to reconsider and eventually both stayed on to run the mill and produce fabric for the Confederate Army. He started D.E. Converse Co. or Glendale Mills in 1866. In 1880, Converse, with associates, formed the Clifton Manufacturing Co., which eventually grew to include three mills. He and his family remained in Glendale until 1891 when he relocated his family to Spartanburg, where had become interested in establishing a college of women that became Converse College (1889). Twichell Auditorium, named for his wife’s family, remained in constant use throughout the 20th century – hosting music concerts, recitals and meetings.
1878 DE Converse and Co. became Glendale Mills

He died in 1899. At his death, he was a stockholder in the Pacolet, Whitney and Spartan Mills. Albert Twichell, brother­in­law, becomes President

1903 Mill No. 1 nearly destroyed by the flood of the Pacolet River. Rebuilt with 37,392 spindles, 518 plain looms, and 550 automatic looms. Main products include heavy drills, print cloth and sheeting.

1957 Sold to Indian Head Mills

1961 Closed


Sources:

  1. Jacobs, William Plumer.1935. The Pioneer. Clinton, S.C.: Jacobs & Co. Press.
  2. Teter, Betsy Wakefield, editor. 2002. Textile Town Spartanburg County, South Carolina Spartanburg :Hub City Writers Project. ISBN 1-­891885­-28­-6