Forest Acres was incorporated as a city in 1935, and it has grown since then from a community of a few hundred hard–working people to an upscale community of more than 10,000 residents. The community proudly proclaims its independence and brands itself as A City Apart.
The City of Forest Acres has its origins in a path created by Native Americans who walked among the pine barrens between the riverside villages of the Congaree and Wateree tribes. The path eventually became a rutted wagon road connecting the colonial towns of Saxe Gotha on the Congaree River and Pine Tree Hill on the Wateree River.
During the Revolutionary War, Saxe Gotha and Pine Tree Hill were renamed Granby and Camden and were sites of major battles. Col. Thomas Taylor, Col. Timothy Rives and Col. Wade Hampton I fought with Gen. Thomas Sumter (the Gamecock) defending the Granby-Camden Road. Once Columbia was established in 1786 as South Carolina’s capital city, pioneers settled along the road and the creeks feeding the Congaree River.
The development of Forest Acres can be capsulized into three critical meetings of influential men: 1) at the Granby Tavern in 1784 between Revolutionary War heroes Hampton, Taylor and Rives; 2) in downtown Columbia in 1926 between attorneys John Hughes Cooper and James Hammond; and 3) at the Huiet dairy farm on the Camden Road in 1935.
The Granby Tavern Meeting
Thomas Taylor and Wade Hampton tied up their horses, brushed off their dusty buckskins and sat down for a hearty brew at Timothy Rives’s tavern in Granby. It had been three years since the peace treaty had been signed with Great Britain, and Americans were getting organized.
Gen. Wade Hampton I, 1754-1833. Photo courtesy South Caroliniana Library.Taylor and Hampton were deeply involved in the fledgling country’s new government.
Col. Thomas Taylor, 1743-1833. Photo courtesy Dr. Edmund R. Taylor.
Rives, on the other hand, was happy cooking, tending bar and passing along gossip at his pine log tavern within earshot of the Congaree River dock. The news from his war buddies about the Granby-to-Lexington move, however, was unsettling. His customers might soon be leaving.
Hampton announced, “Laws are about to be passed in the Legislature to seize Tory land and resell it to fill the coffers of our new state government. The time is right for us to make a move.”
Intent on using his influence to get the state capital moved to the flood-free land across the river, Taylor said, “I recommend we pool our resources and purchase as much of that land as possible.”
The former soldiers raised their mugs, swore secrecy and pledged immediate action. Within a few weeks, the three men had quietly purchased 18,500 acres at 10 cents an acre ($1,850) – most of it confiscated Tory land from the government and some from settlers unaware of the situation. Six settlers along the river smelled a skunk and refused to sell.
In April 1786 the commission (of which Taylor was a member) purchased 2,471 acres that would become Columbia, the new state capital. Taylor received $3,184 and his brother James $2,888. Wade Hampton and his brother, Richard, received $3,048. A nice investment with a quick return.
John Hughes Cooper, 1885-1945. Photo courtesy Richland County Public Library, Cooper Branch.
Taylor, Hampton and Rives then divided their remaining land. Hampton took the land along Gills Creek and Taylor the portion along the Camden Road.
For Timothy Rives’s meager but important investment in the project, Taylor and Hampton purchased four lots (one-half block) across from the proposed State House for their partner. When the State Legislature met in Columbia, Rives’s Tavern was packed with legislators and lobbyists.
The Cooper Office Meeting
Taylor’s property along the Old Camden Road became known as Taylor Town and was settled by the Taylor, Dalloz, Landrum, Dent, Plumer, Romanstine, Fetner, Richbourg, Geiger, Riels, Wages, Kelly and Stork families. By 1920, it had evolved into the communities of Quinine Hill and Dent’s Pond.
In 1926, attorneys John Hughes Cooper and James Hammond, former 1910 U.S.C. law school classmates, met in Cooper’s office in downtown Columbia. This was usual for these two movers and shakers.
Cooper closed the door, handed Hammond a glass of bourbon, and said, “Senator, I have an offer you can’t refuse. Now listen here!”
Hammond had served in the S.C. House of Representatives and was a junior member of the S.C. Senate. He was a familiar figure in the state’s halls of power. His grandfather had been governor of South Carolina, and he was a director of several savings and loan associations, the S.C. Ports Authority and the S.C. Public Service Authority.
Cooper had purchased the former Taylor property along Gills Creek north of the Camden Road from the Dent family, who had logged most of it and created a lake known as Dent’s Pond. Cooper renamed the pond Forest Lake and built a public swimming hole below the dam. He envisioned a land development and recreational project to be known as Forest Lake Club.
Sen. Hammond snorted down his drink, bit off the end of a cigar, and said, “O.K. Short Stuff, what do you want now?!”
Cooper replied calmly, “Senator, old buddy, I will give you a two-acre lot on Forest Lake and a lifetime membership in the club if you come live out here.”
Hammond lit his stogie, blew smoke toward the ceiling, and replied, “I don’t think so. It’s too far from town. But I will buy Quinine Hill from you.” Quinine Hill was two miles closer to town than Forest Lake.
Reluctantly, Cooper agreed, and by February 1929, Hammond had set up an idyllic home (Bell E. Acres) and pond (Ponce de Leon Lake) and was selling lots on Quinine Hill. Early property owners were the Heywards, Moaks, Woodsons, Evans, Bultmans, Roses, Marshalls, Talberts, Mucklows, Munsons, Quattlebaums, Taylors, Mikells, Plumers, Huiets, Cullers, Hendrixs, McRaes, Bynums, Hollers and Tompkins.
Sen. James Hammond, 1885-1970. Photo courtesy Adele Jeffords Pope.
The Huiet Dairy Farm Meeting
By April 1935, the federal Works Project Administration was fighting the Great Depression by putting millions of unemployed citizens to work building highways, roads, streets, public buildings and public utilities. Hammond and Cooper became aware of plans by the S.C. Highway Department to build roads and utilities using WPA funds. Seeing an opportunity for improvement of their small communities, they gathered leading property owners at the Huiets’ 15–acre dairy farm on the Old Camden Road. Attending were William and Callie Rose, who owned a paint factory, Boykin and Fannie Davis, who operated the Davis Store, banker–developer Emmette Groover, the Evans family and several Dents.
Hammond shed his suit coat, called the meeting to order, explained the situation, then announced, “Municipal incorporation will be necessary in order to qualify for WPA funds to build roads and develop water and sewage systems, so we must create a town with a name, corporate limits, listed inhabitants and a government. But, first, my friends, a petition has to be signed by a majority of the citizens.”
He and Cooper then got into an argument over the name of the new town. “How about Forest Lake or Forest Lake Gardens, and rename the road Forest Drive,” Cooper proposed.
“No! It’s gotta be Quinine Hill,” roared Hammond, “and nobody’s changing the name of the road.”
Groover stepped into the furor. “Both names are good,” he said. “The citizens must decide.” Everyone agreed to put the town name question on the incorporation ballot, but to call the road Forest Drive to silence Cooper.
Cooper, satisfied, proposed the town’s north-south boundaries be one-half mile on either side of Forest Drive, the eastern boundary at 1,000 feet east of Gills Creek, and the western boundary to include Quinine Hill. No one disagreed.
It was then proposed by Hammond that mayor-council be the form of government. Upon agreement, he added, “And I propose that my good friend, Uncle John Cooper, be mayor, with William Rose, A.G. Dent, G.D. Huiet and myself as councilmen.” Light applause filled the room. Hammond passed around cigars.
The petition was filed with the S.C. Secretary of State on Aug. 28, 1935. On Sept. 24, approximately 100 voters went to the polls at Davis Store. They chose the name Forest Acres and approved the ballot for mayor and council. The Town of Forest Acres was born with an area of two square miles and a population of 375.