Gowensville had own post office for almost a century

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The first post office called Gowensville was established in 1803 within a store owned and operated by Major John “Buck” Gowen, who had commanded the Revolutionary War era Fort Gowens on Blackstock Road.

He was the first postmaster at the location off the old Tugaloo Road on a knoll above Emery Creek and north of the South Pacolet River (think present day Hogback Mountain Road off SC Highway 14, originally known as the Rutherford Road).

The post office closed in 1815 after Gowen died, but it reopened in 1818 when William Holcomb was appointed postmaster. He, along with Theron Earle, had purchased a portion of Gowen’s land from Vardry McBee, Jr. and David Henning in 1817, which included the store, and he evidently used the same space in the store for the post office.

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The store site became known as the focal point of the community of Gowensville and it is referred to in at least one deed as “the old Gowensville House.”

Holcomb remained postmaster until February, 1823, when Alfred Whitten was appointed. The post office was then relocated to Whitten’s home on the south side of South Pacolet River, on land which had been part of the original Robert Goodjion land grant of 827 acres in 1792.

Two Spartanburg men, James McMakin and John Ramsey Bowden, purchased portions of the Robert Goodjion grant and began to establish businesses on it at, and near, the intersection of the Middle Indian Path (present day SC Highway 11) and the Rutherford Road.

As postmasters were appointed following Alfred Whitten, the post office was located, at various times, in the homes or businesses of those so named. These were (with year of appointment in parentheses): William Morgan (1836); Benjamin Wilkinson (1843); Dr. W.A. Money (1847); Elias Holcombe (1849); James McMakin (1850); William McMakin (1853); James McMakin (1856); John R. Bowden (1858); James C. Peace (1866); Margaret Gleck (1868); Perry J. Harrison (1874); Thomas J. Earle (1877); W. David O’Shields (1880); Thomas C. Davis (1881); and W. David O’Shields (1893).

Henry Stafford Reid was appointed postmaster in April, 1899, and the post office was established in his store, which was actually located within the intersection of SC Highway 11 and SC Highway 14. Traffic had to jog around two sides of the store building as it passed through the intersection.

Reid served as postmaster until January 27, 1902, when the Gowensville Post Office was officially merged with the Campobello Post Office in Spartanburg County, after serving the Gowensville community for a total of 96 years.