Amid the Great Depression and a national labor strike, workers in the small Upstate town of Honea Path descended upon the town’s cloth-making mill in September 1934 to protest low wages and harsh working conditions.
As some 300 protesting workers began to congregate around the Chiquola Mill, Dan Beacham, the mill’s superintendent, ordered armed police and local residents to surround the protestors. Beacham also ordered a World War I-era machine gun placed atop the four-story mill.
When tensions boiled over over, a fight broke out among the crowd and then the shooting started. Seven workers were killed and dozens more were wounded on what became known as “Bloody Thursday.”
But that day was forgotten in history books and lessons and kept a secret from generations of South Carolinians to come, until Beacham’s journalist grandson Frank Beacham worked to expose the killings.
In the 1990s, Beacham reached out to the daughter of one of the workers killed so many decades ago. They met and she told him the story of how his grandfather was responsible for the death of her father. In 2013, Beacham published “Mill Town Murder,” which recounted the events of the Chiquola Mill killings.
The mill was eventually purchased by a North Carolina company in 2008 and has been reduced to rubble with plans to turn the site into a nursing home. But the memory of what happened on that September day still haunts the town of Honea Path.
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.