Prominent Pickens descendents visit city

PICKENS — Last Wednesday one of General Andrew Pickens’ many prominent descendents, Oklahoma billionaire oil tycoon and investment leader T. Boone Pickens, was a guest speaker at Clemson University’s Brooks Center.

And immediately after his plane touched down at Pickens County Airport, Pickens’ entourage first traveled directly up to Pickens Courthouse to view the Andrew Pickens memorial statue and plaza.

Pickens was welcomed by retired local newspaper publisher and author Jerry Alexander, who presented him a copy of his book “Blood Red Runs the Sacred Keowee,” which chronicles the Cherokee wars of 1761 and 1776, in which Gen. Pickens played vital roles.

Pickens’ group was accompanied by another distinguished descendent of the general, Washington, D.C., attorney Andrew Pickens Miller. Miller is already well-known to Pickens County folks for his generous November 2000 donation of a large oil portrait of Gen. Pickens that hangs in the courthouse.

Both Pickens family descendents are interested in learning more about their famous patriarch and his many adventures before, during and after the Revolutionary War, some of which occurred right here in the upstate.

The city of Pickens and Pickens County are named for Gen. Pickens. He is, of course, famous nationwide for helping defeat the Lower Cherokee nation and the British during the Revolutionary War at battles such as Cowpens, Kettle Creek and King’s Mountain, which led to the opening up the northwestern part of S.C. for settlers.

He served the state of S.C. in various capacities, and his son and grandson each served as governor. Locally active following all his battles of the war and negotiating the 1785 Hopewell Treaty with the Cherokee at Clemson, he immediately used his local civilian position as a commissioner to see that Pickens, Oconee and Anderson counties had a strong governmental structure. He also, with other commissioners such as Robert Anderson, laid out early roads farmers desperately needed to get to markets.

As a sign of his immense popularity with the average citizens of this area, two other local towns were quickly named for him in early years. They were Pickensville, at the southwestern edge of today’s Easley and Pickens Courthouse Village on the Keowee River. Both are gone now, of course.