Lancaster and Fort Mill, SC
Colonel Leroy Springs, one of the foremost pioneers in cotton manufacturing was equally prominent is banking, cotton oil, rail and insurance. During his day, he may have been the busiest textile executive of them all.
He was born on Springfield Plantation, near Fort Mill, SC, just south of Charlotte, NC, on November 12, 1861, the son of A. Baxter Springs and Julia Blandina (Baxter) Springs. His father was a lawyer but more importantly, a planter on a large scale; president of a railroad; director of two other railroads; and interested in banking. His father became a state senator and was a member of the South Carolina Convention, which formed the ordinance of secession. He was a student at the University of North Carolina from 1878-1880. After the university, he entered the mercantile business and became a salesman for a Charlotte wholesale grocery firm. This began a long, successful career in business. He married Grace Allison White, daughter of Samuel E. White of Fort Mill, in 1981. She died in 1907. He began his own business, Leroy Springs and Company in Lancaster, SC in 1884. He organized the Kershaw, SC Mercantile and Banking Co. in 1888. Many other banking ventures followed.
Springs entered textiles late in his career. He organized the Lancaster Cotton Mills, one of the largest in the South in 1896; the Eureka Cotton Mills and Springstein Mills in 1899; and Kershaw in 1904. He reorganized the two mills of what would become the most famous location, Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1904. These mills, founded in 1884 and 1889 became the central location of what grew into a dynamo in the 20th century.
He served as Colonel on the staff of Governor John P. Richardson from 1886 until 1890. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lancaster Grade School for a period. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention four successive times up to 1920, and a delegate-at-large in 1924.
In 1928, toward the end of his career, he was president of seven cotton mill companies, president of the Bank of Lancaster, the Lancaster and Chester Railway, the Lansford Water and Power Company of Lancaster; Vice-President of the Bank of Kershaw; Director of the Catawba Fertilizer Co., the Lancaster Cotton Oil Co., First National Bank of Camden, National Exchange Bank of Kershaw, Savings bank of Fort Mill, the Southern Home Fire Insurance Co. of Charleston, the Prudential Fire Insurance Co. of Greenville, Trustee of the Mutual Life Insurance Co. of New York,; Director of the American Trust Co. of Charlotte; Vice-President of the Columbia, SC National Bank. He was a director of the Charleston, Columbia and Augusta Rail way a t the time it merged with the Southern Railway. He was probably officially connected with more separate corporations than any one businessman in the state of South Carolina.
He died in 1931 and turned over the textile business to his son, Colonel Elliot White Springs, a distinguished World War I flying ace and entrepreneur who really put Springs textiles on the national map with imaginative advertising and outlandish quotes.
Source: Jacobs, William Plumer.1935. The Pioneer. Clinton, S.C.: Jacobs & Co. Press.