Robert Lee McPherson's family were emigrants from the Highlands of
Scotland, James McPherson emigranted to Charles Town in 1766; praying for
warrents for land on Cane Creek and later settled on Rabon Creek,
Waterloo, Laurens County, South Carolina.
Robert Lee’s dad was James Cleveland McPherson, he grew up Laurens,
South Carolina. His dad was Robert Hubert McPherson.
In 1922, Robert Lee lived with family on their grandfather’s Davis
Farm. Grandfather Davis had a big farm and we lived on his property a
little piece from him. Our Family lived in three room house with no front
porch, in the living room there was a big fireplace, big enough to put
four foot logs in it. Dad would put logs in the fireplace in the morning
and bank the fireplace at night; so we would have coals the next morning
to start the next day’s fire.
We did not have running water, and dad had to go to grandfather Davis’s
well to bring cool buckets of water for us to have that day to cook with
Grandfather Davis would drive to the town of Laurens, selling fruit off
his farm to make extra money. He would hand a piece of fruit to everybody,
and say " Stick a tooth in that and see how you like that."
The reason we left the farm, is because the cotton was a cash crop for
all the farmers in the area, and that year the Bowl weavels hit the whole
country side and put most of the farmers out of business. My mother’s
brother, Walt Davis got dad a job at Loraee Mills in Gastonia, North
Carolina. (Fire Stone Rubber Co.) They made fabric for tires; we lived
there for a number of years, and attended West End Grammar School.
There was a strike in the Mill in 1925, the Chief of Police Addehalk,
was killed there and when the strike was over the mill was bankrupt.
I was about nine when I was selling Charlotte Observer News Papers on a
corner. There was a man who saw me on the corner that day selling papers
when the chief was killed, he asked me if I would like to sell 100 papers.
I sold all those papers in one day, that was the most I have ever sold.
I was 12 years old when we moved back to Greenville, South Carolina. We
moved to Wriggley Street in Dunean Mill. Dad was a card tender in the
mill, just above the house he was working sixty hours a week for $12.00 a
week. Back then you could buy a loaf of bread for nickel. I was twelve
years old when I started to Parker High School; the school was three miles
to and from the school. My sister Virginia went to school at Dunean
Grammar School, Pauline got a job at the mill at the age of sixteen. Back
then the job was more important, if you did not work you didn’t eat.
When I was at Parker High School I took a Defense Course, I finished
the course in two weeks when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th.
They called to the Navy Yard Base in Charleston, South Carolina to work.
When I was working at the Navy Yard as a Ist Class Ship Fitter, I met
Mr. Dandridge, he was a foreman on a building on a church close by. I told
him I would work for nothing if he would let me learn to lay brick, and
told him I did not need the money. Mr. Dandridge told him he would work
out something, and to come in the next day. I knew they would close down
the ship yard after the war and I had better know a trade.
We moved back to Greenville in 1948, I believe; I would get up at 1:00
in the morning to get the early edition of the Greenville News, there was
a house for rent and when I went to see it; the house had a dirt floor.
There was no way I was going to rent this house. My mom and dad had moved
back from Charleston, South Carolina when we did. (my dad worked in the
ship yard also) They had rented a large house on Dunbar Street, behind the
General Hospital. We moved into the house with them until we could buy a
house. After the war, there were some houses built on Manning Street in
Greenville, these houses were the only houses built after the war. I put
$500.00 down on one of the houses, the had running water, for the hot
water heater; which was in the kitchen, we had to build a fire in it to
wash clothes or take a bath, we thought we were in heaven.
Velma, belonged to the Dacusville Methodist Church, she transferred her
membership to the Navy Base Church there. When we moved to Greenville, she
took her letter to Pendleton Street Church; and that’s where we started
I had financed my self in the brick mason business, we operated for
about two or three years.
I took in a partner and we called the business, " Alexander and
McPherson’s Brick Masons."
Our partener ship did not work out and we split up. I continued to work
on and stayed busy.
And while working on the Sears Robuck Building here in Greenville, I
met a man who wanted to sell his service station. This was in 1951 when I
bought the Amoco Station on 615 Pendleton Street. When I bought the
station, it was the only full service station in the area at this time.
All the Doctors at Greenville General Hospital traded with me, and the
business was profitable.
There was a gas shortage and Amoco called me they had a tanker coming
to Greenville for me to put gas in my tanks. I called the Greenville
General Hospital and told them to tell all my customers to line up at my
station, we will pump this gas for their employees, and they were real
We had the Greenville Service Station Association here in Greenville
and I was President in no time. I held this position for a year and they
elected me the President of the state Association. I have never been in
any organization that I did not go to the top. I have been President of
the Kawanis Club, and was elected Chairman of the Deacons of Pendleton
Street Church by acclimation one year. When the meeting opened, a Deacon
nominated me, one seconded the motion and the meeting was closed. This
shocked the day lights out of me, and I also was on the property committee
for several years. I also served with Meals on Wheels, for many years and
I am a Mason.
Oral Conversation taped, none of dads words has been changed; June 3,
1998 at Robert Lee McPherson’s house, by Brenda McPherson Compton.]
Robert Lee McPherson Photo, original, photograph is 10"x12",
card stock, the photo is unsigned, undated, black and white. (photo taken
in 1932) The photo was given to Brenda Compton in 1994, as a gift by
Robert Lee McPherson.
My father is eighty two, in the early seventies he and my mother, Velma
Garner McPherson, traveled to Scotland to find his roots. Dad owned an
American Oil Service Station for forty years, in Greenville, South
Carolina. Mom died in 1978, dad remarried in the later 1980’s to Katie
My research on my dad's line has been a trip in time, going back to the
Ancients Scots. These Scots had hard life in the Highlands, in Highland
Clearances their property was destroyed and the people were
burned out to make room for Cattle. I found the Macphersons helping the
Ruthvens in Perth, Ancient Scotland fighting to defend the Ruthven Castle,
about the time the Ruthvens lost their property in the 1600's.
Note: Citation: Book: A Compilation of the Origional List of
Early Protestant Immigrants To South Carolina 1763-1773 Compiled by Janie
Revill, Clearfield , CD #517 Family Tree Maker's Family Archives
Genealogical Records: Early South Carolina Settlers, 1600's -1800's.
James was awarded 100 acres - Council Journal 32, page 709-710. Meeting of
31Janurary 1766. James McPherson 100, "The petitioners severally alleged
that they were protestants and produced proper Certificates of their good
behaviour and praying that they might have Orders to the public Treasurer
to pay them
the Bounties allowed by the Act of the General Assembly passed 25th, July
In 1999, I presented my dad at Christmas Eve with his Book called
" The William McPherson, family of North Carolina and Waterloo,
Laurens County, South Carolina." That was the first time I saw my dad
cry. In Waterloo, South Carolina, there is a McPherson Bridge, McPherson
Post Office, and on an early map of the Laurens, South Carolina, William
McPherson had a Plantation. The McPherson Grave Yard in Waterloo is in
front of the old home place. When the road had been cut through this area,
the county had to save the gravesite, but the road split the property. Dad
told me in one of the conversations, I had with him on tape, his mother
Willie Leona Davis McPherson told him he was spelling his name wrong, when
he was about eight. Their last name was Macpherson, he was spelling it
McPherson, dad told me he was too old to change it back. Robert Lee
McPherson ( living) has a sister Myrtle Virginia Chapman, age 80; (
living) and another sister Pauline Carroll, age 84, ( deceased as of
Brenda Elaine Macpherson Compton