Spotlight On: Kalmia Gardens

Located in Hartsville, the gardens, now owned by Coker College, were developed into an arboretum prior to World War II by Mrs. David R. Coker. The old home was built by Capt. Thomas E. Hart (1796-1842) shortly after he purchased the surrounding lands in 1817. The city of Hartsville derives its name from him–he was its first postmaster; a merchant, planter, officer in the South Carolina Militia, member of the Board of Free School Commissioners, and Magistrate for the area.

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Spotlight On: Grave of Augustin Wilson

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Located in Lake Swamp Baptist Church Cemetery, Timmonsville vicinity. Wilson’s grave is marked by a partially embedded cannon barrel. During the American Revolution, he served with NC troops and as an Ensign at the 1779 Battle of Brier Creek, GA. He moved to South Carolina before 1820, where he died in 1848.

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Spotlight On: Yankee Hill

This hilly area was once used as burial ground for Union soldiers who died while garrisoned here at the end of the Civil War.

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Spotlight On: Darlington Methodist Church

Darlington Methodist Church

Now a private home, this first Methodist Church was built in 1834. During the Civil War, occupying troops were invited to attend the services as women sat on one side of the church and the men sat on the other. The carpenter who built the church later became a Baptist minister. This building served as the Methodist church until 1901. It is believed that the second floor door once led out to a large veranda. The building once boasted a beautiful steeple and stately front columns. The only know picture is on display at the Historical Commission.

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Spotlight On: St. John’s Elementary School

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This site has been the home of a Darlington School since 1818. Originally built as the Darlington Academy, it is now occupied by the St. John’s Elementary School. According to local tradition, an early teacher who was also an ardent Mason named the school for the Apostle St. John who was believed to have belonged to the Masonic Order. It is the oldest elementary school in the state. Near the close of the Civil War, Federal Occupation troops turned the school into a hospital for their wounded, using the grounds for their tents. They lined their tents with boards taken from the school and the school was paid war reparations. The beautiful brick building that you see today replaced the old wooden one in the fall of 1902.

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Brief History of Darlington County Historical Commission

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Original blueprints of Darlington County Jail, now home of the Darlington County Historical Commission

History of DCHC

The DCHC was created in 1967 by the South Carolina Legislature to procure historical records relating to the county; to have care and custody of the archives of the county; and to mark historical cites. The Commission’s holdings of historical material had grown to such an extent by 1984 that its quarters were placed in the old County Jail building, renovated for its use. This building is located in downtown Darlington, just off the Court House Square at 204 Hewitt Street.

Archives

The Commission’s holdings include official county and municipal records; church and school records and histories; business and industrial records; records of clubs and societies; compiled land records (deeds, maps, plats); family records (correspondence, journals, diaries, etc); and newspapers. The Commission solicits the donation of historical material relating to Darlington County. Such gifts are tax deductible.

Fun Facts

  • There have been a total of three County historians at the DCHC: Horace Rudisill (1968-2003); Doris Gandy (2003-2015); and Brian Gandy (2015-present). Doris served as the Assistant Director for many years alongside Mr. Rudisill, and Brian, Doris’s only son, has been coming to and working in the Commission since he was twelve.
  • At the Commission, there are roughly 750,000 photographs, 50,000 negatives, 1 mile of flat stock documents, and one Bible that is over 373 years old.
  • The Commission has been featured on a TV show that focuses on supernatural activity in buildings.

So come visit us at 204 Hewitt Street in Darlington. We are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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Spotlight On: Darlington Memorial Cemetery

Located on Avenue D and Friendship Street in Darlington, the Darlington Memorial Cemetery was the first cemetery created for African-Americans in the community. The cemetery began in 1890 as a five-acre cemetery established by Macedonia Baptist Church and African-American citizens in Darlington. In 1946, Bethel A.M.E. Church and St. James Methodist Church established cemeteries across from Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery. The three cemeteries are collectively known as the Darlington Memorial Cemetery. The cemetery includes graves dating back to the late 19th century and includes graves of many prominent and well-known African-American residents of the town. Notable citizens such as Rev. Isaac P. Brockenton, D.D. (1828-1908), minister and public servant; Lawrence Cain (1871-1944), principle of Mayo Grade School and Mayo High School; Edmund H. Deas (1855-1915), a prominent politician; Lawrence Reese (1864-1915), a merchant and self-taught designer and master craftsman; and Dr. Mable K. Howard (1876-death unknown), an educator.

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Spotlight On: Arthur W. Stanley, veteran, activist, and councilman

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Arthur W. Stanley, a native of Darlington, was a WWII veteran. He served in the Pacific Theater. Stanley was the president of the Darlington Chapter of the NAACP and held the position for 40 years. He led the efforts to desegregate the Darlington County Public School System as a plaintiff in Stanley v. Darlington County School District. Stanley also initiated a legal challenge to the discriminatory polling practices of the Darlington County municipal elections. His efforts led to the adoption of three single-member electoral districts and three at-large districts. He was also the first African-American elected to the Darlington County Council. He received the highest citizen honor from the State of South Carolina, the Order of the Palmetto.

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Spotlight On: Dr. Daniel Collins

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Dr. Daniel Collins, a Darlington native, was a 1932 graduate of the Darlington County Public Schools. He attended Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, where he received a B.S. degree in science and a D.D.S. degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He also obtained a master’s degree in dental science from Guggenheim Clinic in New York City. Dr. Collins became the first African-American dentist on faculty at the School of Dental Science at the University of San Francisco in 1942. In 1968, he opened a private practice, Oral-Facial Consultative Service. Dr. Collins helped establish the National Urban League’s San Francisco Bay Area office and the Northern California United Negro College Fund. Dr. Collins passed away on September 13, 2007, at the age of 91.

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Spotlight On: Mayo School

Mayo High Colored

From “Introduction: A History of Mayo School”

About the year 1890, public education in Darlington County was started for African-Americans. One of the early buildings which the state and county used for education of African-Americans was located on Pearl Street in front of the old Charles estate, now Darlington Motel. Later in the year of 1890, the land was purchased by the school board and Mayo School became more of a reality.

According to the Darlington News on August 29, 1889, Rev. A.D. Mayo, a “friend of higher education in the South,” aroused great interest locally when he came here and spoke from Boston. As one of the main individuals in the establishment of the school, it was named for him.

A building of four very spacious rooms with large halls diving two rooms on either side was constructed about 1890 on the land purchased by the school board. All school work, elementary and high school, was done in this building. The school remained on this site until 1914.

When the school was moved from this site in 1914, a new building was constructed in the block between Jessamine and Chestnut Streets facing Pine Street. There were twelve classrooms and an auditorium in this building. This building later burned and a new brick building of 24 rooms was constructed on Chestnut Street where, at one time, there sat a plant. On February 8, 1947, this 24 room building was destroyed by fire. Plans were begun for a new building during which time classes continued in various public buildings and churches of the city.

In 1949, Mayo was rebuilt, consisting of 19 classrooms. After the completion of this new building, Mayo grew continually. To keep abreast of the increased enrollment, the I.P. Brockington and J.L. Cain Elementary Schools were constructed in 1952. Pine Junior High School was added to the city school system in 1963. Around this time, Mayo High School had a Library Building consisting of a well-equipped library and four additional classrooms, a gymnasium, an Industrial Arts building with departments for Carpentry and Vocational Agriculture, Home Economics Demonstration, and other temporary framed buildings.

The late R.W. Boyd was the first chairman of the Board of Trustees; he, with the aid of his fellow members, did much work in helping establish the present school system.

Former principals of Mayo were Professors Gordan, Cobb, Cotton, Andrews, Cain, and Wiley.

Mayo High School was the first of three (Mayo, Booker Washington, and Sims High) African-American public high schools in South Carolina to be accredited by the State Department of Education during the early 1920s.

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Spotlight On: Honorable Richard H. Humbert

Letter to Governor R.K. Scott from Richard H. Humbert, July 18th, 1868
Letter to Governor R.K. Scott from Richard H. Humbert, July 18th, 1868

Born in Charleston, Richard H. Humbert was a devoted resident of Darlington County. A former slave who taught himself to read and write, Humbert wrote his own pass for freedom. He was an active member of the South Carolina Republican Party and an organizer for African-Americans in 1868. In a letter to Governor R.K. Scott dated July 18, 1868, Humbert wrote: “I have the honor respectfully to state that I have organized two companies of militia at Darlington, and one at Florence. . .I am the only man of color in this county capable of organizing militia, having served as orderly sergeant for two years in the U.S.A. during the Rebellion.” In fact, our records indicate that, as of 1874, Humbert attended the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Eighth Regiment of the National Guard.

Humbert also served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for eight years. He was a judge in Darlington County from 1871-1878.

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Prestwood Country Club was founded

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On July 3, 1914, the Prestwood Country Club in Hartsville, South Carolina, was founded.

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