Chesterfield County has within its boundaries eight municipalities. The following is a brief history and quick facts of each town.
History – Many millions of years ago, Chesterfield County was at the bottom of an ancient sea. The sand hills all around the county prove this. Indians lived throughout the area and Indian artifacts can be found in various places where Indians were known to camp. No white settlement was recorded until the 1730′s when the Welsh Baptist came from Delaware in 1736. Phillip Dormer Stanhope, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, gave land grants to the Craig family. John Craig, who fought in the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina, settled here and built a mill that was known as Craig’s mill. It was very versatile in that it contained a grits, flour and saw mill, plus a cotton gin. With an altitude of 290 feet above sea level, Chesterfield County is located on a long ridge running in a generally easterly/westerly direction. Since Chesterfield was never affected by a serious epidemic of typhoid fever or small pox, many believed the location to be a healthy ridge. The “Stage and Main Post Road” which provided a north-south stage coach route from New York to New Orleans became known as the “Old Wire Road” when the telegraph came into existence. By 1845, the county was industrialized. All material needs for the citizens were supplied by local industry including an iron foundry. South Carolina’s first secession meeting was held on November 19, 1860 at the Chesterfield County Courthouse. Sherman and his troops torched the County Courthouse in March of 1865 and all records were destroyed. During the reconstruction period, a new courthouse was built Chesterfield County has come a long way. Several industries are located all over the county. Excellent educational programs are maintained. Farming continues today with new variations in crops, fruit orchards and livestock, including poultry. Several small towns across the county still offer tranquil surroundings with large cities a few miles away. Today, Chesterfield County serves eight (8) municipalities, providing the rural areas with opportunities for growth and development through services that are far reaching. The county is a historical treasure but inhabited with a receptive spirit for new ideas.
History – The first non-Indian settlers were Welsh Baptist, who settled in the area in 1736, having obtained a large grant of land from the British government for colonization. Moving their entire settlement from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, they occupied the West Neck section of Society Hill, but quickly began pushing their way up the Pee Dee River towards what is now Cheraw. They were later joined by English, Scotch and Irish immigrants. One of the earliest businesses established in the Cheraw area were a mill and a trading post, established in 1740. This early settlement would later become one of the major centers of colonial commerce in South Carolina. Cheraw obtained its name from the early small tribes of Indians which inhabited the region, principally the Cheraw and Pee Dee tribes. Reduced in strength and number from disease, these tribes joined the Catawba’s of North Carolina, leaving only their names. At the head of the Pee Dee River, connected to Georgetown and Charleston by steamboat, and having an important post road running through town, it was natural for the town to develop early on an extensive trade with the surrounding areas, a tradition it maintained with the advent of railroads. In recent history, the town shifted from agriculture to an industrial center for the county with several large industries and textile plants. Today, Cheraw is a prosperous, modern community with much of its past proudly preserved in the form of architectural landmarks.
History – Chesterfield had its beginning as a town in 1785 when the County Court Act divided St.David’s Parish into three separate districts. It was decided that the courthouse would be built where the Town of Chesterfield now stands. In 1786 the first courthouse was constructed. In 1798, Mr. John Craig built his home which still stands across from the present day U.S. Post Office on Main Street. In 1826, Chesterfield (named in honor of the Earl of Chesterfield) became the seat of justice for Chesterfield County. At this point in time, Chesterfield was a town consisting of 100 inhabitants, 12 houses, two stores and a beautiful new courthouse in the midst of construction. The Town of Chesterfield was incorporated as a municipality in 1872 with 200 persons. The Town grew slowly until the year 1900 with the construction of the Chesterfield and Lancaster Railroad. Progress and growth proceeded quickly with the operation of this new railroad. Chesterfield could now trade more easily with Cheraw and other neighboring towns and the exportation of cotton would prove very prosperous to the now 856 inhabitants. In the twentieth century, agriculture continues to be an important part of the community’s present heritage. However, business and industry have grown to play an ever increasing role in the Town’s future.
History – Pageland was named in honor of Adolphus High “Captain Dolly” Page, the man responsible for bringing the Cheraw and Lancaster Railroad to the town. In 1904, the railroad reached Pageland, which was then known as Blakeney’s Crossroads. The arrival of the railroad sparked growth in the business community as well as the agriculture sector. Agriculture was the base of Pageland’s economy during the first part of the 20th century. Cotton was a major cash crop. Watermelons were also grown extensively and for many years, Pageland was known as the “Watermelon Capital of the World”. Soybeans have since replaced watermelons as the major cash crop grown in the area but substantial numbers of watermelons are still produced.
History – McBee came into existence with the arrival of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Lots for the town were auctioned off at a barbecue in 1900. The Town was incorporated in 1902. With the transportation of the railroad, production of agriculture crops began to increase. Peaches have for many years played an important role to the farming community in the McBee areas of Chesterfield County.
History – The history of Jefferson is more the history of the Miller family. In fact, many of its citizens are direct descendants of its first inhabitant, Michael Miller. The first name for the community was Miller’s Mill. It was later changed to Millerville. The name Jefferson was suggested between 1870 and 1890 and was chosen when the town was incorporated in 1901. That same year the Charlotte, Monroe and Columbia Railroad was chartered. The railroad never expanded beyond Jefferson, as originally planned. In the late 1820′s, gold was discovered in the Jefferson area of Chesterfield County by a Mr. Burwell Brewer. Mr. Brewer developed the Brewer Mine which reached its peak production in the 1830′s. With the skyrocketed price of gold in the 1970′s and the new mining and processing techniques, Brewer Gold Mine has been revitalized as an important industrial segment of the town’s and county’s economy. Typically, 20 to 30 tons of rock must be processed to extract one ounce of gold.
History – The Town of Patrick was issued a Town Charter in 1906 when the local postmaster, grocer and school principal petitioned for incorporation. The Town was named for Mr. John T. Patrick, an industrial agent of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad when that railroad constructed a rail line in 1900, connecting Cheraw with Columbia. A part of that construction included the location of a rail depot in the Patrick area, with that station being named after Mr. Patrick. Consequently, with the chartering of the town in 1906, the town adopted the name of their local rail depot. Prior to that date, occurrence in Patrick areas noted by the listing of McFarland’s Tavern, located in the Patrick area, the Mill’s Atlas of 1825. Troops of General Sherman camped about where the Old Wire Road crossed the present road to Chesterfield as they traveled north. With the coming of the railroad came the demand for cross ties, which was a boost for the local farmers whose main crops were cotton, grain and some rice and tobacco. The demand for cross ties created a wood products industry which ideally located near the rail line. In time the Patrick Woodyard became one of the areas largest industries. The extension of electric lines in 1936 from Chesterfield to Patrick, by the Carolina Power and Light Company, was a big step for Patrick.
History – The origins of Ruby date back to before the American Revolution when Mr. Harry Sellers received a land grant from the King of England for the land around Ruby. Sellers later came to the area and in 1850 finished the first house constructed in the area. During the Civil War, General Sherman reportedly camped in the area, making his temporary headquarters in the Sellers’ house. Ruby was first known as Flint Hill, probably because of a lot of flint existed in the hilly countryside. In 1902, the arrival of the Cheraw and Lancaster railroad created the development of a town to be known as Ruby. The Town of Ruby was incorporated in 1903, where there were 20 residents, a livery stable, a drug store and a school house. Although these companies are no longer in operation, Ruby was once the central location for some of the southeast more predominate transportation lines; Griggs, Hennis and Tri-State were some of the companies located in the area. Ruby is vitally interested in becoming the home of a new industrial operation. 80% of the residents are employed in industry and commerce, most of them commuting to other areas.
History – Mt. Croghan was named after a French officer of Revolutionary War fame, Major Croan. On his way to Virginia, after the battle of Camden, he and his men camped on the hill overlooking the present town. In 1809, Mt. Croghan was a voting precinct and had a post office. In 1836, the first school, Elizabeth Academy, was built. It was considered a prestigious high school which taught Latin, Violin, History, Geography, the three R’s and other subjects. The town grew progressively until the destruction, which occurred during the march of General Sherman during the Civil War. In the early 1900′s Mt. Croghan was a growing farm town with 8 to 10 stores. The Cheraw and Lancaster Railroad facilitated the transportation on merchant and farm goods. A group of leading citizens applied for a Charter of Corporation in 1911, with 150 inhabitants shown in its declaration.