Conrad Ehrhardt was born in Weiterade Kuhrhessen Germany on December 13, 1832 and left home at the age of 19 to come to America. He came with only 25 cents in his pocket and skills that he aquired from the mills, in which he had worked, in Germany. To strengthen his knowledge and mechancial aptitude, he did extensive reading on all books involving engineering and machinery. Once in America, he joined with other Germans along the Little Salkehatchie River on the Moccasin Branch where he operated a farm and sawmill. A waterwheel fed by water from the dam, which they built and still standing today, powered the sawmill. After a fire destroyed the mill in 1860, he moved his family to the present site of Ehrhardt. Conrad was a very industrious young man. Without a water source, he built a boiler to power his new sawmill by steam. The mill proved to be very successful and it wasn't long before others flocked to Ehrhardt. As others arrived, Conrad saw the need for other services and built other businesses to meet the people's needs. Besides the sawmill, he built a planing mill, flour and gristmill, rice mill, cotton gin, buckle plant ( for horse harnesses ), and a general store which also served as the first post office in 1876, and subsequently, the first train depot. Now that his sons were older they could manage other businesses. Conrad then proceeded to convince the Atlantic Coast Line to build a railroad spur from Greenpond to Ehrhardt.
With the completion of the railroad, Conrad began selling housing lots in the town and the town was incorporated in 1898. The incorporation set the tide for more businesses to come and Ehrhardt grew to over 1000 people by 1900. He was also a man with high Christian standards and a very generous person. He lived and practiced the standards of his own expressed words. "Try to owe no man anything but goodwill and endervor to pay that to all." It was this goodwill that led him to make a covenant with God as he was traveling to America, to build a church in the area he settled with his prosperity. He donated 2 acres for the Ehrhardt Memorial Lutheran Church and retired its outstanding debt when it was completed in 1904. He built a 10,000 gallon water tower sixty feet high to provide water for town residents for a small fee. And finally, he donated land to the town of Ehrhardt for the use as a cemetery, to which, he became its 1st occupant on September 13, 1908. Subsequent to his death, a 2nd railroad line, The BE&W, was started to provide transportation between Ehrhardt, Bamberg, and Walterboro (never finished) for the workers and merchants to do business with Ehrhardt. Ehrhardt provided significant shipments by rail of lumber products, as well as, growing agricultural & fertilizer products. The Atlantic Coast Line loaded over 40 boxcars of watermelons on a busy day.