PARIS MOUNTAIN - GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
By Cathleen Gallagher, Contributing Writer
In 1770, Richard Pearis, an affluent Irish immigrant, began trading among the Cherokee Indians in . He was distinguished and eloquent, bold and opportunistic. He used liquor and lies to gain land deeds from the Native Americans. Since British citizens were not allowed to own property, he was prosecuted for illegally possessing Indian land. Conveniently, his son George, who he fathered with a Native American woman, was able to inherit this land. George, in turn, immediately transferred that property back to his father.
Pearis, his family and a dozen of their slaves cleared more than 100 acres of land near the Reedy , what is now the heart of downtown Greenville. He built a vast plantation (The Great Plains Plantation), a trading post and a mill. When The American Revolutionary War ensued, Richard Pearis was captured, but escaped when General Andrew Pickens facilitated his lifesaving getaway down the river.
Richard Pearis' entire plantation was burned by backcountry opponents, and, in 1781, the state of confiscated all of his land. He is considered the first white settler in . He lived out the rest of his life with his family in the . The spelling of the mountain subsequently changed (perhaps a clerical error) to: . It was under President Franklin D Roosevelt's The New Deal, in an attempt to recover from the Great Depression, that the South Carolina State Park System was formed. Between 1934 and 1941, more than 34,673 acres of land in was designated as State Parks. Much of the land was donated by private land owners.
Paris Mountain was developed under the United States Forest Service. Interestingly, these parks were placed under the administrative care of the United States Army. Camps were set up in with a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) company consisting of about two hundred men each. The CCC proved to be the cornerstone of labor that provided the indigenous design of the parks we enjoy today. Roads at were built to blend into the terrain, and rubble stone and rough hewn logs were used to construct a "set in nature" style of architecture.
on Paris Mountain