‘Old Mill’ workers honored with monument

Jim Kelly and Peggy Sheffield of the West End Heritage Corp. with the newly installed monument honoring workers from the Darlington Manufacturing Company. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA LYLES

by Samantha Lyles


Once upon a time, the Darlington Manufacturing Company was the lynchpin of Darlington’s economic and social life, with generations living and dying on ‘Mill Hill’ and earning their pay by putting in long hours at the cotton mill. For the past decade, descendants of these west end families have worked to establish a permanent marker honoring those workers. Last week, that dream became reality. Jim Kelly and Peggy Sheffield of the non-profit West End Heritage Corporation say the handsome granite monument now standing at the corner of Pearl St. and Cleveland St. was a long time coming. “We bought this property around 2013, but we had this project in mind well before we got the property,” said Sheffield. “And we’ve been working to get this monument done for the past four years,” added Kelly. Crafted by Nelson Blackmon of Blackmon Memorials at a cost of nearly $10,000, the polished stone base features three images of the mill as it looked in the 1950s. Perched on pillars over this base, the cap stone is engraved with the words Darlington Manufacturing Company 1883 – 1956. Inscribed on the stone’s back are words from an original Mill Hill boy, author Bill Shepard, who has published many poignant and nostalgic tales from the mill’s heyday. “This memorial is dedicated to the memory of the men, women, and children who worked within the walls of the old mill for more than half a century. The old mill contributed significantly to the economy of the town of Darlington. The old mill is gone and soon all who worked within its walls will have gone, also. When future generations visit this spot and look upon this memorial, may they reflect on a time, a people, and a way of life that has come and is gone forever. Gone. But not forgotten!” = While the monument stands alone for now, that won’t be the case for very long. “The next step is to lay the pavers around the bottom of the monument in their memory,” said Sheffield. “If you have not purchased a paver for yourself or a loved one who worked at the old cotton mill, please contact me. We have room for about 400 pavers, but we have only sold about 140 so far.” Pavers are available for $50 each, and the brick will be laser engraved with the name of the mill worker you specify. “We are in need of funds to complete this project. If you can make a contribution, we would greatly appreciate it,” said Sheffield. Once the pavers are laid, work will proceed on the rest of the park, including concrete pouring and bricklaying to transform the dirt lot into a finished space with a defined border wall. Benches and landscaping will then be added to make the site more welcoming for visitors. “The Darlington Manufacturing Company is a part of our history and heritage. We would like to, as a corporation, see this memorial dedicated to those who created this heritage,” Sheffield said. To make a donation or purchase a dedication paver, contact Peggy Sheffield at 843-618-0879, or mail your inquiries to 108 Columbian St., Darlington SC, 29532. Any checks should be made out to the West End Heritage Corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Author: Stephan Drew

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