With the holiday weekend coming up, I was thinking about what would be a good Labor Day field trip. I thought of Union, SC, a little town northwest of Columbia in the heart of the old textile industry and wondered what might be going on there to celebrate Labor Day. Apparently not a thing.
I googled “union sc history” and found a site for the Union Chamber of Commerce. It included a short history of the town and county. I had expected the name to have something to do with failed union organizing activities, but I was surprised. The town was named for “the old Union Church,” a place of worship shared by Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.
I don’t know what the poverty line was back in those days, but I’m pretty sure those Protestants willing to share a worship space were well below it while being completely unaware of it.
But not everybody was poor. Thomas Cary Duncan founded two cotton mills and financed and built his own railroad to connect the two. As a result of his investments, hundreds came from neighboring states to work in the mills.
The citizens were apparently patriotic, as well as religious, because Union County had the reputation of being the only county in the US to avoid the draft during WWI because the number of willing volunteers made it unnecessary. Maybe everybody just wanted to get out of Union, but I doubt it.
I guess a little bit of poverty brought on by the current economic difficulties could bring us together again, but in today’s toxic political environment, class warfare seems more likely.