Originally settled by yeomen farmers, in the nineteenth century numerous plantations were established for the cultivation of short-staple cotton. Its processing had been made profitable by invention of the cotton gin. Cotton was the primary crop grown in Newberry County before the American Civil War. Newberry was a trading town, and expanded with the arrival of the railroad in the early 1850s, which connected it to major towns and markets. Newberry College was established by the Lutheran Church in 1856.