Where is Santa Claus?

The Christmas greetings letter is a special way of touching the heart of friends and families, and the aim behind writing it is to reach out to them on this special occasion. The letter is a way to wish them all the best and good luck for rest of year.

Christmas is a festival of great joy and sharing for people all over the world.  Many people who aren’t Christians also enjoy celebrating Christmas. A Christmas greeting letter, also called an Xmas letter, is a letter written to convey the season’s greetings to somebody.

In the course of processing material acquired by the Historical Commission we came across this Christmas letter and thought you might find it as interesting as we did.   The letter is addressed to the C. W. Coker Company of Society Hill, SC.  It was written by W. T. Wright, general sales manager for the F. S. Royster Guano Company of Norfolk, Virginia.  It is dated Christmas 1927, Just 2 years before the Great Depression.

From the collections at the Darlington County Historical Commission

First to Strike a Match in Darlington County!

Matches, LuciferIn 1826, John Walker, an English chemist and druggist from Stockton on Tees, discovered through lucky accident that a stick coated with chemicals burst into flame when scraped across his hearth at home. He went on to invent the first friction match. Until the first half of the nineteenth century, the process by which fire was created was slow and laborious. Walker’s friction match revolutionized the production, application and the portability of fire. Walker sold his first “Friction Light” on the 12th April 1827 from his pharmacy in Stockton on Tees. Walker’s first friction matches were made of cardboard, but he soon began to use wooden splints cut by hand. Later he packaged the matches in a cardboard box equipped with a piece of sandpaper for striking. He was advised to patent his matches but chose not to and, as a result, Samuel Jones of London copied his idea and launched his own “Lucifer’s” in 1829, an exact copy of Walkers “Friction Lights”.

From the Darlington News & Press, December 27, 1923 we read where Elihu Muldrow, 93 years old, gives an interesting reminiscence of life in Darlington.  In the article he discusses the Ebenezer Community (now Florence County) and mentions that just across Jefferies Creek lived Elias Windham.  Windham, a prosperous farmer that today exist in an almost forgotten past.  He had a “Yankee” visitor that called on his home with an idea that changed the old and primitive way of starting a fire.  Elias, took hold of this knowledge and began “making and selling the first friction matches in Darlington County.  As a large quantity of Sulfur was used in making them, they were called Lucifer Matches.  Possibly the fumes of Sulfur from a lighting match suggested the idea of naming them for his Satanic Majesty.”

Windham, Elias

Elias Windham


When Elias Windham was born on March 16, 1795, in Darlington, South Carolina, his father, Daniel, was 26 and his mother, Sarah, was 28. He married Sophia Stewart on July 3, 1816. They had five children in 10 years. He died in 1845.

Hartsville Graded School / Mt. Pisgah Nursery School

Hartsville History First Black School.jpg

This photograph, circa 1902, shows Hartsville’s first Black School at the corner of Sixth Street and Marion Avenue.  The photo is courtesy of T.B. & Lovis Thomas.  It was printed in the Hartsville Messenger on January 29, 1999 and was a part of a Black History Month Special.

Darlington County Historical Marker

Marker ID: SCHM 16-70
Location: 630 S. 6th St (Downtown)
City: Hartsville
County & State: Darlington County, South Carolina
Coordinates: N 34° 21′ 58.78″   W 80° 04′ 19.55″




Erected by: Private or Site Owner in 2012.



The first public school for the black children of Hartsville and vicinity operated on this site from about 1900 to 1921. It was renamed Darlington County Training School in 1918. A new school was built on 6th St. south of this site in 1921. Rev. Henry H. Butler (1887-1948) was principal at both sites for a combined 37 years. The 1921 school was renamed Butler School in Butler’s honor in 1939.


Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church grew out of a Sunday school started on this site by Rev. T.J. James in 1922. The church was organized that same year, and a new church building was erected nearby in 1926. Rev. James also founded Mt. Pisgah Nursery School, which operated in the old graded school here for many years. Rev. James’s family later donated this property to the city for Pride Park, established in 1986.

Document Conservation done on Hidden Treasures

Early this morning, while working on a map file at the  Commission, a Commission staffer and a volunteer came across 17 fragments of parer filed away in plastic sleeves.  The cashe was immediately brought to my attention and the priorities of the day immediately changed.  The fragments were removed from their plastic protectors and I began working to establish if they were a part of a larger document.

To our surprise, we ended up with 3 complete documents consisting of one Land Grant (December 1801),and 2 Deeds (1834 & 1788).   We also had one partial Plat dated June 18, 1839.

The conservation work that was done is 100% reversible and honors the 2 golden rule of conservation, “Do nothing that cannot be undone” and “Do no harm.”

Many may ask, “why is it important that we save documents such as these”?  These documents trace the ownership of the land we currently live on.  They tell us the story of individuals who dared to dream and then caused those dreams to become a reality.  For folks doing genealogical research, it will serve as a primary source documentation verifying place, date and location for the particular individuals included on the document.  But most important of all, they are threads in the overall historical narrative of Darlington County.

These threads mention the Prestwoods that came into Darlington County from Chesterfield County and today Prestwood lake carries their name. It mentions the Kilgore’s of Kilgores Mill, the area on highway 15 between highway 102 and the top of the hill by the Dollar General in Hartsville.  It mentions John Eli Gregg of Society Hill, one of the most outstanding early business men in the Pee Dee. Last it references William Fulconer, a former president of the St. Davids Society, Society Hill, SC and representative to the SC Legislature.  These and documents like them help tell the story of the birth of the Pee Dee and Darlington County is central to that.