The County was settled in the mid-18th century by Welsh, Scotch-Irish, and English farmers, who grew cotton primarily.
The settlement of what is now Darlington County began in earnest after 1736 and 1737 when the province of South Carolina set aside a vast area of land for the Welsh Baptists of Delaware. This Welsh Tract bordered both sides of the Pee Dee River. Soon after the first settlers began to arrive they constituted the Welsh Neck Baptist Church. This church was first located on the north side of the Pee Dee River, opposite present-day Society Hill. For almost thirty years settlers concentrated on the banks and small tributaries of the Pee Dee River. Beginning in the 1760s and continuing into the 1770s other groups slowly made their way into present-day Darlington and were granted lands on the Lynches River, Jeffries Creek, and a host of other watercourses. These later settlers included descendants of French Huguenots, Scots-Irish, and the English.
For three decades following the arrival of the first settlers, local government did not exist for the citizens of the area. All deeds, estate settlements, and other legal matters had to be taken to Charles Town to be recorded. In 1769, by an Act of the Assembly, Cheraw District was established as a Judicial District. A courthouse and gaol (jail) were built at Long Bluff (near present day Society Hill) and were operational by late 1772.
After the Revolutionary War, in 1785, Cheraw District was divided into three counties, Marlborough, Chesterfield, and Darlington. Darlington County was bounded by Cedar Creek, the Pee Dee River, and Lynches Creek (River). To this day there is uncertainty concerning why the county was named “Darlington”. A new county seat was established near the center of the county, Darlington Court House. After 1798 the designation “county” was changed to “district”. In the 1868 South Carolina Constitution, the designation reverted to county.
In Darlington County we have had our fair share of General-interest newspapers typically publish news articles and feature articles on national and international news as well as local news. The news includes political events and personalities, business and finance, crime, severe weather, and natural disasters; health and medicine, science, and technology; sports; and entertainment, society, food and cooking, clothing and home fashion, and the arts. Typically the paper is divided into sections for each of those major groupings with pagination prefixes yielding page numbers A1-A20, B1-B20, C1-C20, and so on). Most traditional papers also feature an editorial page containing editorials written by an editor, op-eds written by guest writers, and columns that express the personal opinions of columnists, usually offering analysis and synthesis that attempts to translate the raw data of the news into information telling the reader “what it all means” and persuading them to concur.
Most newspapers are businesses, and they pay their expenses with a mixture of subscription revenue, newsstand sales, and advertising revenue (other businesses or individuals pay to place advertisements in the pages, including display ads, classified ads, and their online equivalents). With the list of newspapers below, remember the motto – “Publish or Perish.” Some newspapers are government-run or at least government-funded; their reliance on advertising revenue and on profitability is less critical to their survival. The editorial independence of a newspaper is thus always subject to the interests of someone, whether owners, advertisers, or a government. Some newspapers with high editorial independence, high journalism quality, and large circulation are viewed as newspapers of record.
- BUILDER weekly-established 1924, ceased c. 1926. Cited Ayer 1925 and 1926: Thomas H. Coker (editor), Builder Publishing Company. Jun 12, 1924 = vol 1, no 19, Thomas H. Coker (editor), Thomas E. Stokes (manager). Files: SCL Jun 12, 1924.
- CAROLINA PLANTER monthly, agricultural, family newspaper—established in Florence as a semi-monthly in 1895, moved to Darlington c. 1897, and cited by Ayer once in Darlington (1897): W. D. Woods (editor), B. O. Bristow (publisher). Ceased c. 1898. No known files exist.
- CONFEDERATION weekly, anti-secession c. 1860. According to Ervin and Rudisill’s this paper was established in 1860 by James H. Norwood and ceased in 1861 when it was sold to the Darlington Southerner. Horry Dispatch (Apr 11, 1861) contains a prospectus for weekly “Southern Confederation” to be published in Darlington by James H. Norwood, William C. Zimmerman, and Jessee E. Norwood. No known files exist.
- COUNTY MESSENGER weekly—established in Hartsville as Hartsville Messenger Mar 8, 1893, moved to Darlington Mar 17, 1898, and became County M In 1903 moved back to Hartsville and in 1909 became the Hartsville Messenger. May 5, 1898 = vol 6, no 8, T. J. Drew (editor and publisher). Note: This issue contains precise data on establishment and move to Darlington. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission (1900-1907) 10; SCL May 5,1898 (fragment), Jan 18,1900.
- DAILY INDEX daily—established Jun 1896, ceased c. 1896. Not cited in Ayer. June 29, 1896 = vol 1, no 1, C. F. Salisbury (editor). Files: Darlington County Historical Commission Jun 29, 1896.
- DAILY OBSERVER daily-established Jul 1912, ceased c. 1912. Not cited in Ayer. Jul 26, 1912 = vol 1, no 3, Stokes Printing Company. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission (Jul-Sep 1912) 25
- DAILY RECORD daily-established Sep 1896 by owners of semi-weekly Darlingtonian, soon ceased. Not cited in Ayer. Sep 9, 1896 = vol 1, no 3. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission Sep 9, 1896.
- DARLINGTON DEMOCRAT weekly—established 1868 by E. P. Lucas (editor and publisher), ceased 1871. Clarendon Press (Aug 6,1868) contains proposal by Lucas to start Darlington Democrat about Aug 19. Nov 18, 1868 = vol 1, no 8, E. P. Lucas (publisher). Cited in Rowell 1869 and 1870. According to Camden Weekly Journal (fragment), Darlington Democrat was sold early in 1871 and succeeded by the Darlington Files: Darlington County Historical Commission (Oct 1869-Jul 1870) 10; SCL Nov 18, 1868, Jan 26,1870.
- DARLINGTON FLAG weekly-established 1851, ceased 1861. Mar 5, 1851 = vol 1, no 1, J. H. Norwood (editor), John F. DeLorme (publisher). By Oct 1851 Norwood and DeLorme (publishers). For a brief time in 1850s issued as Family Friend (see). According to Ervin and Rudisill’s T. C. Evans, F. F. Warley, and A. J. Rugg also associated with paper. Rugg, who purchased the Darlington Flag in 1858, ceased operations in 1861. He planned to move his press to Marion after the war, but died in battle. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission (1851-1860) 30; Florence CL mfin Mar 5, 1851-Apr 15, 1852; News and Press Apr 11, 1861; SCL (1851-1860)9, mfin Mar 5, 1851-Apr 15, 1852.
- DARLINGTON HERALD weekly-established Jul 16, 1890, destroyed by fire Dec 15, 1890, re-established Feb 11, 1891, ceased c. 1895. Cited by Ayer 1890 thru 1895. Ayer 1890: A. S. Mclver (editor and publisher). Sep 30, 1891 = vol 2, no 4, W. D. Woods and T. J. Drew (editors and proprietors). Files: Darlington County Historical Commission ((1892-1894)); SCL Sep 30, 1891, Apr 6,13,1894.
- DARLINGTON INDEX weekly—established May 1871, ceased c. 1871. Not cited by Rowell. Jul 13, 1871 = vol 1, no 10, Ira E. Hill (editor), John R. Liles and Thomas W. Westbury (proprietors). Files: SCL Jul 13, 20, Aug 10, Sep 14, Oct 5, Nov 2, 1871.
- DARLINGTON NEWS weekly-established 1875 by J. W. Hammond, merged with Darlington Press Apr 20, 1909 to form News and Press. Nov 28, 1878 = vol 4, no 44, J. W. Hammond (publisher and proprietor). Cited in Rowell and Ayer 1877 thru 1909. W. and Henry T. Thompson, George W. Brown, D. D. Evans, and Alex G. Kollock also associated with paper. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission ((1878-1909)); Florence CL ((1886-1895)), mfm Jun 1890-Dec 1895; Francis Marion mfm Nov 28, Dec 26, 1878; SCL (1879-1907) 9, mfm Nov 28, Dec 26, 1878, (1886) 48, 1888-1895; Sumter County Museum-Archives Apr 1, 1897.
- DARLINGTON PRESS weekly—established 1903 as New Era, changed name toDarlington Press Jul 4, 1906 = vol 3, no 32, A. J. Bethea (editor), merged with Darlington News in 1909 to create News and Press. In addition to Bethea, Thomas H. Coker, Jr., S. C. King, T. E. Stokes, and J. Monroe Spears also associated with paper. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission (1906-1908) 10; SCL mfm Jul 1, 1906-Dec 16, 1907.
- DARLINGTON SOUTHERNER weekly-established 1859 by J. M. Brown, ceased c. 1883. Cited by Rowell and Ayer 1869 thru 1883. Apr 6, 1863 = vol 4, no 1, J. M.Library mfm (1894-1907) 10, 1908 +; Hartsville Messenger 1961 + ; SCL (1895- 1952) 50, mfm (1894-1907) 10,1908 + .
- HARTSVILLE NEWS semi-weekly—established 1938, ceased c. 1938. Not cited in Ayer. Apr 2, 1938 = vol 1, no 1, Thomas H. Coker (editor). Files: SCL Apr 2-26, 1938.
- LAMAR BULLETIN weekly-established 1891. According to Rudisill, First One Hundred Years: Lamar. South Carolina. 1872-1972. created by local businessmen, ceased c. 1892. Jan 28, 1892 = vol 1, no 16. Files: Darlington County Historical Commission Jan 28, 1892.
- LAMAR LEADER weekly c. 1898. According to Rudisill, First One Hundred Years: South Carolina. 1872-1972. established 1898, but soon ceased. No known files exist.
- LAMAR SENTINEL weekly-established 1922, ceased c. 1926. Cited Ayer 1923 thru 1926: Jack Wells (editor and publisher). Only known copy is at the Darlington County Historical Commission.
- PRESENT TRUTH weekly, Seventh Day Adventist—established c. 1900, ceased c. 1904. Cited Ayer 1901 thru 1904: A. B. Cargile (editor and publisher). Printed at office of Lamar Leader. No known files exist.
- X RAYS weekly—established 1897, ceased c. 1898. Cited once in Ayer (1898): Walter L. Wilson (editor and publisher). No known files exist.
- SOCIETY HILL NEWS weekly, black publication, Republican—established 1910, ceased c. 1911. September 23, 1910 = vol 1, 23 S.B. Thompson (editor and publisher). Cited once in Ayers (1911): S.B. Thompson (editor and publisher). Files: Darlington County Historical Commission Sept 23, 1910.