Bruce Tyson

News and Views

Little Chicago South Carolina

We happened to go through Little Chicago today and we were somewhat dismayed at the state of things – especially the well-known mileage sign with distances to locations around the world. The last time we were by there must be at least 15 years ago. Back then, you could read the signs, but now they are in almost irreversible decay. The J.B. Williams store still stands at the intersection of Goodjoin Road and Mt. Lebanon Church Road, but is also in a state of advanced decay. Photographs of these two landmarks are below.

Here’s all that I know about Little Chicago, SC:

Little Chicago, the crossroads location of J. B. Williams’ service station and general store, has a title that originated from the Roaring Twenties. There are two versions of the name’s origin: one that a town drunk went to Chicago, came back so loaded that when he came to he thought he was still in “Little Chicago”-hence the name; the second version is relevant to a near shoot-out, when the store proprietor had to draw his own gun to prevent one man from shooting another; after peace and quiet was restored, one of the customers who heard about the incident commented; “Gosh, it’s just like Little Chicago!” (This was at the time that Al Capone and all the shooting and public enemies in
Chicago were making the headlines,) And customers still gather `round J. B. Williams’ pot-bellied stove and have pleasant arguments about which version of Little Chicago’s origin is the right one.

From: Names in South Carolina. Link no longer available.

Dr. Dorothy C. Crow speculates concerning two of the names listed in Volume Xlii’s query column: “Little Chicago in Spartanburg County might well date from the days of the tough guy y-clept Al Capone. During the late 20’s and early 30’s many unsocial communities all over the world became known as Little Chicago. I have heard of several, but the only one I remember at the moment was near Chur in Switzerland. `Twas rumored that residents of such places couldn’t take out life insurance policies even if they weren’t members of the Underworld.”

Also from Names in South Carolina. Link no longer available.
Little Chicago, South Carolina - J.B. Williams Grocery

Little Chicago, South Carolina - Mileage Sign to World Locations

Little Chicago mileage signs:

1. illegible
2. Paris 4,185
3. Denver  1,573
4. missing
5. missing
6. Berlin  4,566
7. Six Mile
8. missing
9. missing
10. missing
11. Campobello  .79?
12. Tokyo  7,317
13. London  7,6??
14. illegible
15. missing
16. Seattle  3,069
17. Rome
18. Illegible  63
19. Flag Pond  95
20. Honolulu  4,882
21. missing
22. Sugar Tit  20
23. Damascus  8,83?
24. illegible  240
25. illegible
26. Hong Kong
27. Enosburg Falls  995
28. Charlotte  95
29. missing
30. Cairo  5685
31. missing
32. San Francisco  2,993
33. New York  685
34. Washington  460
35. Flagstaff  1796
36. Philadelphia  600
37. Quebec  1,182
38. Pumpkin Town  25
39. Warsaw  5,768
40. Tooter Town
41. illegible and falling off
42. Junkie John  1/2
43. illegible
44. Country Earl’s  25 miles
45. Little Chicago NW Territories Canada as the crow flies 2075 miles
46. Superior, WI  1365

June 30, 2011 - Posted by | News | ,


  1. I live about a mile from Williams store. Use to shop there as a kid. It is for sale now. Much history in that store.

    Comment by jeepdave | January 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. I remember buying soft drinks at Bloomer’s store for a dime when I was a kid. I had relatives who lived down the road from the store. When I visit in May every year we have to go by there on our way
    to our family reunion.

    Comment by Kay Holt | November 27, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] Little Chicago, Bruce Tyson […]

    Pingback by Happy Birthday Sean, From South Carolina « Dassel Academy | September 15, 2013 | Reply

  4. South Carolina, my 50th favorite state.

    Comment by George Goodrich | February 2, 2014 | Reply

  5. I lived a mile from therte from 1976-1979

    Comment by Rick Ellington | February 3, 2014 | Reply

  6. It is great that some one is preserving our local history. I remember when I was a kid and I thought going to little Chicago was like town

    Comment by Keith | February 4, 2014 | Reply

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