Welch Neck High School / Coker College

Welch Neck High School / Coker College

Darlington County Historical Marker

Marker ID: SCHM 16-32
Location: 311 E. Home Ave. (DT)
City: Hartsville
County & State: Darlington County, South Carolina
Coordinates: N 34° 22′ 41.65″   W 80° 04′ 09.60″
Latitude

Longitude

34.374043100000002

-80.073400499999906

Erected by: Hartsville Heritage Commission in 1995.

Inscription:

Front:

The Welsh Neck Baptist Association initiated this institution as a coeducational boarding school. It opened Sept. 17, 1894, through the generosity of Maj. James Lide Coker, Civil War veteran, local industrialist, and the school’s first chairman of the board of trustees. Enrollment peaked at 267 in 1902. When the 1907 public high school act reduced the need for this school, it became a four-year college for women.

 

Reverse:

The trustees of Welsh Neck High School converted their institution into a non-sectarian Baptist college. It opened Sept. 30, 1908, as “Coker College for Women, founded by James L. Coker.” Baptist control ended in 1944, and in 1969, the college became coeducational. The Governor´s school for Science and Mathematics opened on the campus in 1988. Throughout its history, Coker has emphasized liberal arts.

For ETV’s Video on Coker College..

Military Occupation of St. John’s Academy

     “inside the academy building bunks had been arranged, constructed of rough lumber, arranged in tiers….the only other furniture in the building was of the roughest kind, made by the soldiers….the bunks or beds were in the center of the building….the two wings were also used by the military, in one wing they had their guns, and in the other end a barber shop….the academy grounds were used for parade grounds, for drilling, and a guard house was constructed thereon….”

 


Within a few weeks after the surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomattox, victorious Union forces began the systematic military occupation of the prostrate South. Garrisons were established not only in Columbia and Charleston, but in every court house town throughout the State, from which matters attendant to the “reconstruction” of the State were administered.

The village of Darlington, as county seat became the unwilling host first to the 29th
Maine Regiment of the United States Army, then others, sent here to oversee the affairs of Darlington District.  The troops arrived in May, 1865, and remained until August 28, 1868; during this period, they encamped on the academy grounds, and converted the old academy building into a hospital.

Very little would have been known of this period in the history of St. John’s, had not the Board of Trustees during the chairmanship of W. C. Coker, initiated a suit for damages against the Federal Government, as a result of the occupation by the United States Army. Captain Coker died in 1907 before the claim was perfected, but it was carried to a successful conclusion by his successor, C. B. Edwards, and by the Board’s Secretary, George E. Dargan, attorney. The case was tried in the United States Court of Claims, and a number of witnesses examined, whose testimony gives intimate glimpses into that far-away era.

The first witness called on behalf of the Claimant was John Floyd; he was a native son, having been born in Darlington January 20, 1836.  His father was ante-bellum Sheriff Wiley J. Floyd. He served during the war as Captain of Company “I”, 18th South Carolina Infantry, C.S.A., and was a member of the Legislature representing Darlington County 1898-1900.  He testified: “….when the war, broke out I enlisted and remained in service until after the surrender, after which I returned directly to Darlington….it took me some time to get here, but I think I arrived about the 25th of April…shortly afterwards the Federal troops of Gen. Beal’s command arrived and occupied the school here and had tents on the grounds between the academy and the Methodist Church….at that time the academy building was a wooden building in good condition, a one-story structure, about 50 feet wide and 150 feet long; it was covered on one side with weather boarding and on the top with shingles, and was jointed…the main building was very old, with a new addition of about 20 feet to each end, built about fifteen years before the war…there were 6 to 8 acres of ground belonging to the academy, with the academy about in the center…in front of it was open  space and to the rear a grove….the main building was filled inside with desks…the additions were used for recitation rooms…there was a partition in each one….the rooms were ceiled on the sides and overhead with dressed pine painted white….I first attended school there as a very small boy….it was a private institution….”

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Copy of the Bill to compensate the Academy.

The next witness was Dr: John Lunney, who had come to Darlington as a Surgeon for the military garrison ‘ and remained to practice medicine in the community for the balance of his days. He became very active in the political life of the county, serving as Senator, County Auditor and Judge of Probate, but not in that order.  He testified: “….when I came to Darlington in June 1866 the St. John’s Academy property was occupied by Captain Hamilton S. Hawkin’s Company, “G”, 6th U.S. Infantry; I remained with this unit until it left here; after if left, Col. Maynadier and Lt. Col. Frank came here in charge of two companies….I was here as assistant surgeon and also served for a time as surgeon for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. I had an office in a small building a short distance from the academy….later I had my office in two hospital tents, which I used as a temporary hospital, within about 50 feet of the academy building… inside the academy building bunks had been arranged, constructed of rough lumber, arranged in tiers….the only other furniture in the building was of the roughest kind, made by the soldiers….the bunks or beds were in the center of the building….the two wings were also used by the military, in one wing they had their guns, and in the other end a barber shop….the academy grounds were used for parade grounds, for drilling, and a guard house was constructed thereon….”

The next witness called was Mrs. Elizabeth H. Sanders, her home (now removed) stood in the center of the present St. John’s campus, which in 1865 was a tract adjacent to the

2016_01_23_15_57_58_001.jpg
Plat of the area around the academy, and general area of Darlington as related to Mr. Haynsworth.

original school lot. She was the daughter of James S. McCall, early Darlington merchant and plantation owner. She was first married to Thomas Baker Haynsworth, attorney of Sumter District, who removed to Darlington about 1839 after having served in Sumter as junior partner in the law firm “Moses & Haynsworth”. He died at a relatively early age, and she remarried to Henry E. P Sanders, a distant cousin. Mrs. Sanders testified: “I lived in 1865 on the eastern side of the academy grounds within sight of the academy….United States troops occupied it right after the war, volunteers first, then regulars….several of the officers in command of the troops here boarded at my house….Capt. Hawkins boarded with me for nearly two years….of the two wings built onto the academy budding, one was used as a music room by the pupils and the other used to study chemistry….these wings were totally destroyed to get boards for flooring the tents of the troops….in the main building all desks were removed and the window glass all broken, and left an empty building when the soldiers left….I saw into their tents as I passed in and out constantly, over the academy grounds….their tents were all over the grounds….my children went to St. John’s Academy before the war….it was considered a select, private school, the best in town….I paid tuition to the teacher, John Harrington….” The final witness was Walter D. Woods; when questioned, he gave his occupation as “Forester” tho’ he is best remembered as a Nurseryman, son of Samuel A. Woods, prosperous merchant of mid-nineteenth century Darlington. Despite his youth, W. D. Woods entered the military service in 1861. In the closing months of the war, he served as hand-picked adjutant to

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Letter written by Mr. W.C. Coker about the compensation to be given to the Academy.

Maj. F. F. Warley on detail to construct a prisoner of war camp in Florence, S.C.  He testified:  “….immediately after the war the federal troops arrived, and took possession of the academy grounds…. they erected shanties, stables, and necessary out-buildings….during their occupancy of the academy a very fine school bell that had been the property of the academy for a great many years disappeared; it was a fine bell but not a large one, and was very valuable on account of historical value….for a good many years after its establishment the school was called “Darlington Academy”….it commenced to be called St. John’s Academy about 1851, when I was just a little fellow and had just commenced school….”  Mr. Woods, ex-Confederate Soldier, epitome of the Southern Gentleman, must surely have been overwhelmed with emotion during the cross-examination, when counsel for the United States Government asked him: “Did the Trustees of St. John’s Academy render any aid or comfort to the Confederacy during the Civil War?” He replied simply: “They were strong supporters of the South, but as a Board of Trustees, had no aid they could give.”

 

Mr. Woods’ testimony on behalf of St. John’s is interesting and is represented below, verbatim:

Q.  Where did you live and where were you at the time of the Civil War?

A.  Here, except the time I was in the Army. I entered the Con-­ federate Army in 1881 and did not return to Darlington until after the surrender of Johnston’s Army except for a few short intervals. I think I reached Darlington, after the surrender about the 20th or 25th of April, 1865. I remained at Darlington from that time until January 1868.


 

Q.  State what, if anything, you know of any military occupation of the property of the institution known as St. John’s Academy at Darlington?

A.  They came here immediately after the close of the war. Just after the war a garrison was sent here, a whole regiment, the 29th Maine Regiment, they took possession of the academy, and the grounds. They took possession immediately upon their arrival here. They occupied the academy building and their tents occupied the grounds. They erected necessary stables, out buildings, etc, shanties. How many I can’t say, but they destroyed a good many fine trees on the grounds, and during their occupancy a very fine school bell that had been the property of the academy for a great many years disappeared. It was a fine bell but not a large one and was very valuable on account of historical value. They occupied the building and grounds too. The only doubt in my mind in regard to the occupancy is to the exact time it was occupied. I am not cure how long. Of course I can’t be positive that the entire 29th Regiment occupied it. But that has no bearing on it, but my impression was that the whole regiment was there. That was head quarters for this Pee Dee section. All orders emanated from there. This Maine regiment did not occupy the whole of the time. They were succeeded by some troops from Massachusetts. It may be well to give you some idea of the size of the Garrison. They had a brigadier General here, Gen. Beal.


Q.  State whether or not you have knowledge of the occupation of this academy property by any troops besides the 29th Maine?

A.  They were succeeded here by troops from Massachusetts. The number of the regiment I can’t recall now.


Q.  Where was the Massachusetts Regiment quartered?

A.  They were quartered at the same place, one garrison succeeding the other.


Q.  For what purpose did the troops occupy or use the academy building?

A.  Simply as quarters, the place being centrally and conveniently located and well adapted for a thing of that kind.


Q.  For what purpose or in what way did the troops occupy the lands of the academy?

A.  For any military maneuvers, guard mounting, tents, play grounds, and just for usual purposes for a garrison.


Q.  If you are able to state approximately how long or up to what date the property was occupied by the Federal military, please do so?

A.  I am rather slow to make any estimate, for the reason that I left Darlington in Jan. 1868, and for    that reason I can’t make any estimate definitely, but for the whole time they had their garrison here, it was so occupied.


Q.  At what date after you returned to Darlington after the surrender did the Federal Military first occupy this property.

A.  When they first came here it was the last of April or first of May, I think about the first of May. They came here very soon after the surrender.


Q.  What was the size of the academy building in 1865?

A.  I never measured it, but I suppose the width was about 30 feet and the entire length about 125 or 130 feet. That is what I would suppose from going to school there a number of years.


Q.  How much land then belonged to the property?

A.  Between five and 6 acres, something under 6 acres.


Q.  State whether or not you were familiar with rental values of property at Darlington about 1865?

A.  I would say to some extent I was.


Q.  What do you estimate the rental value of this property, including the building and grounds, to have been at that time?

A.  Under the circumstances and everything of the kind, I should think it ought to be about $125.00 to $150.00 per month.  I should say that would be a very low estimate. I would like to state too in that connection, that owing to the war that there were no buildings erected during the war, and owing to this fact that rents were considerably higher than they would otherwise have been, buildings were scarce.


Q.  When and under what circumstances was the name “St. John’s Academy” first adopted by this institution or applied to it?

A.  The general impression and to the best of my knowledge and belief that the academy for a good many years after its establishment went just by the name the Darlington Academy. Just a few years previous to my earliest recollection there was a teacher employed here by the name of Ambrose Spencer, and he being a very enthusiastic Mason and standing very high in Masonry, he gave the academy the name of St. John’s.


Q.  How early, to your personal knowledge, was it known as St. John’s Academy?

A.  Just at the time I was a little fellow, first commenced going to school, say about 1851 or 1852. Of course I qualify that by saying my recollection may be a few years amiss, but I think not.


Q.  State, if you can, who were the trustees of St. John’s Academy early 1835?

A.  The only three that I can recall positively, my father was one, S.A. Woods, E.A. Law, S. H. Wilds, S. DuBose was one I think. Those are all I positively remember.  They are all dead.


Q.  For whom did those parties hold this property as trustees?

A.  For the public. That doesn’t mean that it was a free school in the sense it is now.


Q.  What position on the Board of Trustees did your father hold?

A.  I think for a number of years he was chairman. I can’t say positively about that.


Q.  State whether or not this academy was at any time conducted or operated for private gain?

A.  Never, at any time. In case the tuition fees happened not to meet the salary of the teacher or teachers as the case might be, the trustees simply had to make up the difference out of their own pockets, which was very often the case.


Q.  To what pupils were the privileges of the academy open?

A.  All, open to everybody.


Q.  State whether the trustees of the St. John’s Academy, acting as a hoard of Trustees of said academy, rendered any aid or comfort to the Confederacy, during the Civil War.

A.  Nothing whatever, they had no means of doing it. They were all, of course, strong supporters of the South, but as Board of Trustees they had no aid they could give.


GENERAL QUESTION: Do you know of any other matter relative to the claim in question, that you desire to state about, if so, please state it?

A.  I don’t know that I can recall anything further.

 

 

EARLY INDUSTRY IN DARLINGTON COUNTY

For the first decade after the original settlements were made in Darlington County (then called Craven County) in the late 1730’s, there is no existing evidence to indicate that the populace engaged in any type of industry other than that required for their own personal needs or agricultural pursuits. As the clearing of the land

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Map showing Craven County in relation to the rest of the state.

s progressed, and the population slowly increased, several primitive forms of industry appeared throughout the area.

The most common and widespread was the water-powered saw mill-grist mill operation. As early as 1772, Arthur Hart had a saw mill several miles north of the present Mechanicsville, near the center of the heaviest population density along Pee Dee River between Cashua Ferry and Society Hill. Arthur Hart was one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, and grandfather of Thomas E. Hart, founder of the town of Hartsville. About the same time, John Manderson had three mills in operation on Big and Little Cedar Creeks near Society Hill.

Immediately following the Revolution, possibly the largest and most elaborate saw mill throughout the entire area was constructed near the confluence of Sparrow Swamp and Lynches River. Whereas earlier mills were individually owned, this mill was organized and conducted as a company.

Since the first settlements in Darlington County were along the Pee  Dee River, (navigable to Cheraw), and since the river was the colonists’ only link with the outside world, it is logical to assume that the first manufacturing industry in the area was the building of boats-of necessity, and for sale. One of the earliest boat builders of whom we have any record was Joseph Dabbs, who was plying his trade in the vicinity of Cashua Ferry in the 1780’s; William Evans was operating a boat yard on the riverbank and was known far and wide.

Even after primitive roads began to be cleared through the area, the river was still the chief means of communication and transportation, and offered bright prospects to those inclined to follow the transportation industry. Years before the Revolution, Martin Kolb and George Cherry were hauling goods on the river for others; after the war, Adam Marshall of Society Hill appears as the largest among those engaged in river-boat traffic, regularly transporting Dar­lington produce to the Georgetown markets. Within a few years, boats for hire (and personal use as well) were put upon the river by Col. Bright Williamson; Moses Sanders; and Corne­lius Mandevllle, all prior to 1830. During the 1830’8, traffic on the river apparently became so lucrative that several corporations were chartered, each one operating several boats. Some of the Darlington County men who participated in these commercial ventures were Col. J. Nicholas Williams, Eli Gregg, Davis Gregg, John McClendghen and Caleb Coker.

 

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The Old Williams Mill and Factory Pond, near Society Hill around 1909.  This was the site of Society Hill’s first major industry, Gov. David R. Williams’s Cheraw Uniform Factory of 1812.

 

The first, largest, best financed, and most successful manufacturing industry in Darlington County was the ”Cheraw Uniform Factory” of Society Hill, founded by Gov. David R. Williams in 1812.  A water-powered cotton mill with up to four hundred spindles, it produced cotton bagging, cotton yarn, ognaburgs, etc.  Williams was constantly seeking means to export his products to other regions, but also m

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Gov. David Rogerson Williams

aintain a store in connection with the mill where the finished products were sold.  After Gov. Williams’ death the family did not see fit to continue the operation.

Although they might perhaps be more appropriately designated as “craftsmen”, they were numerous persons throughout Darlington County in its early days who were principally engaged in individual industry, producing their specialties for those in their immediate neighborhoods.  The following will be listed, although there were doubtless others in these same crafts, but their names have not yet come to light.  Tailors and hatters circa 1785 – circa 1850: Cornelius Joiner, Luke White, John Turner, Levy Doughty, Samuel Dabbs, John Griggs, John K. Meigs, William Stanley, and George Whitlow. The saddlers circa 1775-circa 1850: Daniel Doyle, Jesse Mercer, William Winn, James Petty, Calvin Stephens, and the Rev. James Newberry. The last named, a Methodist Protestant minister, came to Darlington County from Sumter; he also conducted a school near his home, which was situated between Lamar and Cartersville.  The wheelwrights circa 1757-circa 1840: Charles Dewitt, Benjamin Skinner, Thomas Keller, Solomon Morgan, Elijah Truett, James Goodson, Zachariah Booth, Aris Woodham, James Russell, end John Tolson.  The gin-wrights circa I835-circa 1870:  Duncan McLaughlin, Robert Dickinson and Maurice W. Hunter.                   tj

By the mid-1800’s, with increased population and prosperity and a better network of roads throughout the district, much of the population became mobile, creating a demand for locally manufactured vehicles. The first professional carriage-maker in Darlington County of which we have any record was Daniel A. McEachern; he was actively engaged in the vicinity of the new village of Hartsville as early as 1846.  He moved to Darlington, about 1850 and opened a shop in partnership with William R. Hunter;
Hunter withdrew , and William Shy became McEchern’s partner in a firm, known as “The Darlington Carriage Manufactory.”  Possibly awed by the bright prospects offered by the newly completed railroad through lower Darlington County (now Florence County), McEachern moved again, this time locating in Timmonsville.

When McEachern left the Hartsville area, the void was immediately filled by John L. Hart’s opening of a carriage factory; existing records do not reveal whether or not Hart purchased McEachern’s Hartsville facilities, but he quickly became the area’s largest manufacturer of vehicles, certainly the largest in ante-bellum Darlington County, In 1852 he purchased the exclusive rights to a device “Hubbard’s Patent Coach Springs” for the counties of Dar­lington, Marion, Sumter, Marlboro, Chesterfield and Williamsburg; in 1853 he opened a branch factory in Timmonsville in partnership with D. W. Carter, and about the same time formed a partnership with William Shy, then already in business in Darlington. Hart’s industry was so extensive that he imported skilled German workman: one of these foreign artisans was Ferdinand Miller, who came to Darlington County from HesseCassell, as a “carriage-trimmer.” He was the grandfather of the late Frank A. Miller, State Senator from Darlington County.

The largest industry, with the greatest outside cap­ital, to come to Darlington County in the ante-bellum period, was the railroads. Considerable local capital was invested in the railroads, and many plantation owners whose lands were crossed by the rails received railroad stock in exchange for cross-ties from their forests. In Darlington County, the largest, stockholders in this infant railroad industry were Col. E. W. Charles, Dr. Thomas Smith, S. A. Woods, John F. Ervin, Caleb Coker, James H. McIntosh, G. J. W. McCall, Rev. John M. Timmons, John Gibson, Moses S. McCall, Robert and John A. Rogers.

After the War Between the States, as Darlington County slowly began to recover, a number of small industries sprang up, too numerous to mention; many were started by newcomers to Darlington County. C. J. Coney was instrumental in trying to form a company to open Black Creek for navigation from Darlington to the Pee Dee River; a Tinsmith opened a shop in Darlington; E. W. Lloyd, a carriage-maker opened a shop in Florence (then in Darlington County); and John Siskron, a native of Connecticut, opened & shop in Darlington for the manufacture of wagons and coffins, about 1872.

IMG_0019
Postcard of the Carolina Fiber Company, Hartsville, SC. ngton County; his first successful venture into the field of manufacturing came in 1833 when he organized the Darlington Manufacturing Company, one of the first modern cotton mills in eastern South Carolina; he

 

 

Maj. James Lide Coker of Hartsville led the way in the post-war industrialization of Darli-ngton County; his first successful venture into the field of manufacturing came in 1833 when he organized the Darlington Manufacturing Company, one of the first modern cotton mills in eastern South Carolina; he

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This is the earliest known view of the mill and plant of the Carolina Fiber Company in Hartsville, taken around 1989.  The small log building on the far right was Major J. L. Coker’s office.  This is the mill that later merged with the Southern Novelty Company to form Sonoco Products Company.

next organized the Hartsville Railroad Company and constructed a line to connect the then-isolated Hartsville with the existing primary arteries of the G&D and the WC&A railroad companies. Within the next few years at Hartsville, Maj. Coker organized the Southern Novelty Company and the Carolina Fiber Company, both for the production of paper products from, abundant Darlington County pine as the basic raw material.

EARLY HISTORY OF THE CITY OF DARLINGTON

“The modern era had arrived and Darlington was in step with the times.”

Darlington as a municipality came into being as a direct result of an Act of the South Carolina Legislature dated March 24, 1785, which created, the County of Darlington. The passage of this Act initiated a search for a centrally-located site on which to erect a court house and jail for the newly-created County. After a lengthy controversy between two influential families of the County, a compromise was reached and a point on the plantation of John King, Sr., astride a trail leading to Camden, was finally selected.

Aviary Photo_130705703474570754           The first settler in the immediate Darlington area was Abraham Ener; he arrived in the year 1758,having received a Land Grant from George III of Great Britain. His land lay on both sides of Swift Creek, and embraced much of what are now the west-central sections of the city. Most of the eastern areas of Darlington were granted to Emanuel Cox by the King in the year 1770. About the time of the American Revolution, John King, Sr., pur­chased these two Royal grants, and secured his own grant for the vacant land between.

When it was finally determined that the new court house should be on his land, John King gave the necessary lot, and then proceeded to have the surrounding lands laid, off by a surveyor into lots, anticipating the emergence of a village. However, available evidence indicates that growth was slow, and that for years, there was little more in the village other than the court house, the jail and John King’s house.

According to tradition, Thomas Knight, a merchant, is said to be the first person to erect a dwelling in the recently laid-out village, at the same time building a store on a corner lot. He was followed in short order by Joseph Woods, District Sheriff; Col. John Smith, Justice of the County Court; Jesse DuBose and Moses Sanders. Sanders’ choice of a home site extended the village westward beyond the original lots surveyed for John King. Of these pioneer settlers, only Woods has descendants still in the city.

For a number of years, James Ervin was the only resident attorney in the village. Shortly after the War of 1812, the court house at Darlington was made the seat of justice for the huge Cheraw Equity circuit; thus the importance of the village as a regional court was assured.  This caused more  attorneys to locate in the town.   Long before the Civil War, the Darlington Bar was one of the largest and most highly respected in the entire upper Pee Dee region.

By 1818, the population of the town had increased, sufficiently to warrant the St John's Academy 1890founding of a school; that year, the “Darlington Society” — a group of influential men of the neighborhood — were instrumental in the organization of the Darlington Academy which later became St. John’s School.

Until 1827, there was no church edifice in the village; services for the various denominations had been held, regularly in the court house for years, and, it was not until 1827 that a successful movement got underway to build a church in

Darlington.   It was completed in 1827 by the Presbyterians, but all denominations contributed, to the effort with the understanding that each had free access to the facility, By 182.9  the Baptists had organized officially into a church but did not have their own meeting house until 1831. Methodists acquired their lot and built their first sanctuary in 1830.

Although Darlington is shown in 1820 as the “head of navigation” on Black Creek, no serious attempts were made to navigate that stream, and Darlington merchants for generations hauled their goods from landings on the Pee Dee River; stages passed through town at regular intervals, giving excellent connections to the outside world.

Darlington is described in 1826 as “….the seat of justice of the district situated near Swift Creek, which waters two sides of the village the public buildings are a handsome new brick court house and jail, besides several private homes and the requisite taverns.”  The village was incorporated December 19, 1335, with an intendant –warden system of government. By 1836, a Library Society flourished, and in 1849, a warrant was issued to organize a Lodge of Ancient Free Masons, which is functioning to this day. An earlier Lodge, organized, in 1822, withered and died after less than five years in existence.

In 1854, a railroad connecting Wilmington with the interior of South Carolina was completed; it passed ten miles South of the village of Darlington. A horse-drawn hack service was immediately inaugurated from the Court House down the Ebenezer Road to a passenger platform built alongside the tracks on the Beaverdam plantation of W. E. James, where the daily trains were met.  It is said that several prominent Darlington citizens refused to allow the tracks to be laid any closer to the town to prevent a feared influx of undesirables. Many of the same persons quickly modified their views and worked to get a spur line extended to Darlington and on to Cheraw. Such a connection was completed during 1855.

Wells Fargo 035.jpg           As the great American Civil War began, Darlington’s militia company, the “Darlington Guards”, was the first to respond to Gov. Pickens’ urgent call for volunteers; they arrived at the scene of action in Charleston ahead of any other unit. The village of Dar­lington escaped the ravages of the war, but did not come out unscathed.  During the final days of the conflict, enemy forces passed through the town, en route to liberate prisoners of war in Florence, S.C.  Only the railroad depot, cotton platform and newspaper office we burned by these passing troops. Immediately after the end of the war, Darlington became regional headquarters for the U. S. Army occupational forces in eastern South Carolina; matters from Cheraw to Georgetown were handled through the office.

After a disastrous fire swept through the town in 1866, DCHS 086the Phoenix Fire Company, a group of volunteer fireman, was organized; the town has had continuous fire protection since that time.

Starting in 1873 and continuing for many years, a large regional fair was held annually in Darlington, representing most of the counties of the upper Pee Dee region. It is said to have compared favorably with the State Fair in Columbia; backing and motivation for this fair came primarily from the Darlington Agricultural Society.

T2011-09-01 2011-09-01 005 007he first banking house was opened in Darlington in 1881, with a capital stock of $50,000.00.  The town had not previously been without banking services, however, since both the Bank of Cheraw and the Bank of Georgetown had maintained agencies here as early as the 1840’s.

The first industry of any consequence arrived in Darlington after the Civil War; a newcomer, John Siskron, opened a wagon manufacturer. Then, in 1883, a major industry came in the form of a cotton mill founded by l2011-09-01 2011-09-01 004 053ocal businessmen utilizing to a large degree local capital.  Cultivation of tobacco on a large scale came to the region in the mid-l880s, and within a little more than a decade, Darlington became the largess tobacco market in the state, with several tobacco related industries as well.

By the early 1890’s Darlington had the benefit of centrally-supplied running water and electric lights; and several new industries, including a fertilizer plant; a phosphate plant; a compress company; a canning factory and a marble works.  Nor were leisure activities overlooked: The Darlington Driving Association, a group of horsemen, built a race track near town, where races were held regularly for years. After the turn of the century, motorcycles supplanted horses on an oval south of town. A small, wooden opera house had been in operation for years, and the Darlington Baseball Association held regular games.

The first decade of the Twentieth Century was one of unparalleled growth. A magnificent city hall-opera house, modern in every respect, and designed by famed architect Frank P. Milburn, was completed in 1901; a beautiful new court house of the latest and most fireproof design was completed in 1905; the first three-story brick office DCHS 020building was completed in 1908; many expensive new homes were begun, in the residential section; and subscriptions were taken for a four-story hospital. Concrete sidewalks were laid in the business section; Bell took over the localized phone service and waterworks were modernized and expanded.

The modern era had arrived and Darlington was in step with the times.