Today in Darlington County History – Dove’s Depot is incorporated as Dovesville on February 9, 1882.
The startling news that citizens of the Dovesville area are seeking incorporation for their village, brings to mind the old adage “there is nothing new under the sun”. Any such action would be a reincorporation, since Dovesville was first incorporated more than one hundred years ago, and at that distant period, had a Mayor, Town Council, Police Chief and Jail.
The area that is being proposed for incorporation was, at the close of the Revolutionary War, part of the immense plantation of Nathaniel Sanders, whose lands extended Eastward to the Pee Dee River. Sanders’ home stood on or about where the present historic McIver Williamson House now stands.
John Dove came to Darlington County in the year 1792 and purchased a sizable tract of land from Sanders, situated on Horse Branch. At that time, his land was bounded on the East by Sanders and later Dr. Thomas Smith; on the North by McIntosh; on the West by Dr. Nathan Leavenworth; and on the South by Black Creek (after he acquired adjacent tracts).
By 1850, most of John Dove’s property had passed to his grandson, Daniel Dove, who should probably be considered the founder of Dovesville. In 1853, construction was underway on the first railroad to be built in this section of South Carolina, connecting Darlington with Cheraw, and Daniel Dove granted the railroad company the right to build its line across his plantation. The legal agreement provided that “a Depot
shall be constructed” on his land and that he should have the refusal of the job of Depot Agent. He did not refuse,for existing records indicate that a Depot was built, and he became first Agent. Within two years, the Dove family had been instrumental in having a United States Post Office — called “Dove’s Depot” — opened, and Daniel’s son-in-law, Charles H. DeLorme, was the first Post Master.
Dove’s Depot was burned in March of 1865 by a detachment of Gen. Sherman’s Army under command of Col. Reuben Williams; it was rebuilt soon after the war, and soon became a
busy terminal. Transferring much freight, it was the shipping point for the Coker Mercantile interests in Hartsville, who hauled their goods by wagon directly from the Dovesville depot.
During the post-Civil War period, the town boasted of a popular general store, operated for years by C. H. DeLorme as a partnership (among his partners were Evander Byrd, Alexander Pitts and J.C.Dove); the Dovesville Institute, which had the respect of area educators as a school of highest standards; and, alas, a Bar Room.
By 1882, inhabitants of the village of Dove’s Depot felt that they should be incorporated, and they forthwith petitioned the S.C. Legislature which in those days granted incorporation by special Act. This Act was passed and signed into law by the Governor on Feb. 9 1882. The Act provided for a change of name from Dove’s Depot to Dovesville, and provided for a governing body of “an Intendant and four Wardens”. The Act further provided, that the town limits would extend “one-half mile in each direction from the center of the crossing of the road leading to Smith’s Mill
and the C&D Railroad”. Election for the first town officers was set for the first Tuesday in March, 1882? Unfortunately, results of this election have not been found, although we know that J. C. McCallman (Daniel Dove’s son-in-law) was elected in the 1888 election.
By the Act of Incorporation, the Town Officers were vested with the power to “establish rules respecting the streets, ways, public wells, springs of water, markets, and police” and they were further empowered to “impose an annual tax not to exceed the sum of fifteen cents on the hundred dollars. The Act specifically prohibited the Town Council from imposing fines in excess of twenty five dollars and jail imprisonment of more than five days.
The most controversial provision in the Act was the right given the Town Council to “grant license to keep a tavern or to retail spiritous liquors within the town limits”. This caused an uproar in the staunch Baptist community, and the Act was amended the following year by striking out this clause and in its stead inserting a prohibition article.
This original incorporation was for twenty one years, so in 1902 incorporation was renewed. Interest in municipal government began to wane with the decline of commercial activity in the town, and finally, on June 19, 1936, the Town Charter was officially surrendered.