(Anderson County; 2000 pop. 3,504). A water stop on the Greenville and Columbia Railroad in the 1850s developed into a town whose name origin is uncertain. Honea Path may be misnamed for William Honey, an early landowner and trader, or it may be double-named by Cherokee Indians, with “Honea” being an Indian name for “path” according to folklore. When the town was chartered in 1885, it was referred to as Honey Path in three different places, and early wills and deeds also bear the Honey Path name. However, in 1917 the town was incorporated under the name Honea Path and it has gone by that name ever since.
Located on the Anderson-Abbeville county line, Honea Path became a cotton mill town. Chiquola Manufacturing Company commenced operations in 1903 and has remained the economic mainstay. The mill’s early employees included future U.S. senator Olin D. Johnston, who went to work as a sweeper in the mill at age eleven. In 1934 Honea Path was the site of one of the most infamous events in American labor history. Chiquola mill hands joined the general strike that swept the upstate that summer, which badly divided the community. On the morning of September 6, later dubbed “Bloody Thursday,” strikers and their supporters gathered to prevent strikebreakers from entering the mill. Fighting broke out, and gunfire erupted. In less than five minutes, six strikers were dead and more than a dozen lay wounded. Under military guard, the Chiquola Mill reopened the following Monday. On Memorial Day 1995, a small granite monument was erected in a Honea Path park to commemorate the tragic event.
As the town entered the twenty-first century, the Chiquola Mill continued as Honea Path’s largest employer. However, the town had diversified its economy somewhat. Plants opened nearby that produced synthetic fibers, linens, ladies sportswear, shipping containers, and medical equipment. Among the town’s claims to fame is its Carnegie Library, built in 1908. Honea Path is the smallest town in the nation with a Carnegie Library, which remains in use as a branch of the Anderson County Library.
Second Edition of Honea Path Milestones. Honea Path, S.C., 1992. Simon, Bryant. A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands,
1910–1948. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.