On March 12, 1785, statewide efforts finally culminated in the passing of the County Court Act, which created Darlington County. In this historic act, the Cheraws District, of which present day Darlington County was a part of, was subdivided into three counties: Chesterfield, Darlington, and Marlboro.
Darlington County boundaries explained, from County Court Act, 1785: “One county beginning at the mouth of Cedar creek, thence down Pedee to the district line, thence along Lynches’ Creek, thence up the same to the fork, being the lower county in said division, and shall be called Darlington county.”
After March 12, 1785, the Justices of the County Court became the official governing body in the newly-created Darlington County, and there were seven justices named: Lamuel Benton, Elias Dubose, Dr. James P. Wilson, Robert Lide, Zachariah Nettles, Robert Loyd, and William Dewitt. Among other duties, these men were charged with establishing a courthouse for Darlington County, and this was when Lamuel Benton and Elias Dubose, both prominent plantation owners, clashed. According to legend, Col. Benton, who served under Gen. Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War, insisted that the courthouse be constructed on his plantation in Mechanicsville, while Dubose wanted it built on his property in Cuffey Town (Early’s Cross Roads). In History of the Old Cheraws, Col. Benton is described as possessing “talents of a superior order and an energy that flagged under no difficulties”; and, perhaps more tellingly, “he was a bitter enemy and a fast friend.” So I can only imagine how Dubose (or some other intermediary) could have successfully brokered the following compromise. To settle the matter, both men agreed to ride on horseback from their respective homes toward each other at a given rate of speed, and wherever they met in between would be the location of the Darlington County courthouse. The two men met at a crossroads on the John King Plantation on Swift Creek, which, 247 years later, became the courthouse square around which the town of Darlington grew. Now there’s a story for you!
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