William Edgeworth Beattie

Greenville, SC
William Edgeworth Beattie (1859 –   )

William Edgeworth Beattie was born on September 25, 1859 in Greenville, SC, the son of Hamlin Beattie and grandson of F.F. Beattie of Virginia.  The grandfather moved the family from Virginia and set up a mercantile business.  His father continued the business and founded the First National Bank in 1872.  Beattie graduated from school in Greenville, attended Princeton University and graduated in 1882.    His father hired him into the bank and there he labored for 22 years to become the Cashier.  He learned banking under his father’s tutelage.

In 1889, Mr. Joe D. Charles, who had served as President and Treasurer of the Reedy River Manufacturing Company, died.  The mill was reorganized as Conestee Mills and bought by Mr. Lewis Parker, Mr. F.F. Beattie and Captain Ellison A. Smyth.  William was named President and Treasurer but still remained as Cashier at First National Bank.  At the same time, Parker was President of the Victor Mill in Greer, SC as well as other mills.  Beattie was elected to the directorate.

Meanwhile a vacancy was created in the Presidency of Piedmont Manufacturing through the death of Col. James L. Orr.   Col. H.P. Hammett, who served as President for many years, organized the plant in 1873.     Upon his death, Mr. R.L. McCaughrin succeeded to the Presidency for a short time and then to Orr, the son-in- law of the founder, Hammett.  Upon the death of Orr in 1905, Beattie was elected President and Treasurer of Piedmont.  He gave up his positions with the Reedy River Manufacturing Company and the bank.

A biography of Beattie was published in a collection of  biographies: Men of Mark in South Carolina in 1907. 3

In 1914, the Parker Cotton Mills Company, the result of the merger in 1911 of 16 mills by Lewis W. Parker became insolvent.  Following re-organization, the company continued as Victor-Monaghan Company with M.C. Branch as President and Beattie as Vice-President and Treasurer.  In 1920, Branch resigned and Beattie was elected president for three years.  The combination of Piedmont and Victor-Monaghan gave Beattie command of one of the largest group of spindles in the South.*

*The greatest number of spindles in the South. Victor-Monaghan Group with eight mills according to Mill News in 1920:

  • Monaghan, Greenville, S. C.
  • Victor, Greer S. C.
  • Greer, Greer, S. C.
  • Apalache, Arlington, S. C. (a suburb of Greer) Note: The Apalache Mill has been converted to condos.
  • Seneca, Seneca, S. C.
  • Walhalla, Walhalla, S. C.
  • Wallace, Jonesville, S. C.
  • Ottaray, Union, S. C.  Note: Ottaray became part of the Deering-Milliken Company.

One of the most unusual clubs is what is known as the Fixit Club within the Victor-Monaghan Mills. It is composed of the superintendents, overseers and section men of the mills. They hold monthly meetings for the purpose of discussing practical questions of how to improve their work. There they swap ideas and get the other fellow’s opinion. Once every three months the superintendents and overseers of all the mills meet for joint discussion. This club has developed into one of the best organizations of the mills.  Mill News

In 1923, at age 64, Beattie turned over operation of Piedmont to his oldest son, Samuel Marshall Beattie.  The Victor-Monaghan portion was turned over to Thomas M. Marchant.

No obituary can be found by electronic search (GM).  Beattie was apparently alive in 1934 when Jacobs wrote The Pioneer and included Beattie as one of the leading textile minds in the South.


Sources:

  1. Jacobs, William Plumer. 1935. The Pioneer. Clinton, S.C.: Jacobs & Co. Press.
  2. http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/millnews/millnews.html Vol. XXII, No. 16 Oct 14,1920 Victor-Monaghan Group page 62-3 Accessed April 17, 2008.
  3. www.archive.org/details/menofmarkinsouth03hemp Accessed February 19, 2009.