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Darlington, South Carolina
Location of Darlington, South Carolina
Location of Darlington, South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Darlington
 • Total 4.6 sq mi (11.8 km2)
 • Land 4.6 sq mi (11.8 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 148 ft (45 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 6,289
 • Density 1,383/sq mi (534.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 29532, 29540
Area code(s) 843
FIPS code 45-18565
GNIS feature ID 1247486

Darlington is a small city in and the county seat of Darlington County, in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of South Carolina. It is a center for tobacco farming. The population was 6,289 at the 2010 census, down from 6,720 at the 2000 census. Darlington is part of the Florence Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Darlington, theorized to be named for the Revolutionary War Colonel Darlington, is known for its Darlington Oak and Spanish moss. Darlington County was named thus by an Act in March 1785.

Darlington is the location of Darlington Raceway, a speedway that is home to the annual NASCAR Southern 500 race. Darlington is also the site of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame.


Early history

This area was settled in the mid-18th century by Welsh, Scotch-Irish, and English farmers, who grew cotton primarily.

The settlement of what is now Darlington County began in earnest after 1736 and 1737 when the province of South Carolina set aside a vast area of land for the Welsh Baptists of Delaware. This Welsh Tract bordered both sides of the Pee Dee River. Soon after the first settlers began to arrive they constituted the Welsh Neck Baptist Church. This church was first located on the north side of the Pee Dee River, opposite present-day Society Hill. For almost thirty years settlers concentrated on the banks and small tributaries of the Pee Dee River. Beginning in the 1760s and continuing into the 1770s other groups slowly made their way into present-day Darlington and were granted lands on the Lynches River, Jeffries Creek, and a host of other watercourses. These later settlers included descendants of French Huguenots, Scots-Irish, and the English.

For three decades following the arrival of the first settlers, local government did not exist for the citizens of the area. All deeds, estate settlements, and other legal matters had to be taken to Charles Town to be recorded. In 1769, by an Act of the Assembly, Cheraw District was established as a Judicial District. A courthouse and gaol (jail) were built at Long Bluff (near present-day Society Hill) and were operational by late 1772.

After the Revolutionary War, in 1785, Cheraw District was divided into three counties, Marlborough, Chesterfield, and Darlington. Darlington County was bounded by Cedar Creek, the Pee Dee River, and Lynches Creek (River). To this day there is uncertainty concerning why the county was named "Darlington". A new county seat was established near the center of the county, Darlington Court House. After 1798 the designation "county" was changed to "district". In the 1868 South Carolina Constitution, the designation reverted to county.

Florence County was created out of parts of Darlington and Marion counties in 1888. Darlington County lost additional territory in 1902 when Lee County was created.

Darlington Court House and Public Square

The public square and the courthouse now sit in their present location because of an argument between two men, Colonel Lamuel Benton and Captain Elias Dubose, in the late 18th century. The tale goes that the disagreement began over whether the courthouse should be located in Mechanicsville or Cuffey Town. It was said that the two compromised, each beginning in their town traveling on horseback until reaching one another. The spot where they met is now the site of the Darlington public square and courthouse. A fire in March 1806 destroyed the original courthouse. It was rumored at the time that an old woman was responsible for the flames in an attempt to burn papers connected to her coming court case. Between 1824 and 1825 it was rebuilt with brick due to a petition to build all buildings on the public square in brick to prevent the spread of fire.

Historic sites

The Cashua Street-Spring Street Historic District, Julius A. Dargan House, Darlington Downtown Historic District, Darlington Industrial Historic District, Darlington Memorial Cemetery, Dove Dale, First Baptist Church, Nelson Hudson House, Manne Building, Clarence McCall House, Charles S. McCullough House, Oaklyn Plantation, St. John's Historic District, South Carolina Western Railway Station, West Broad Street Historic District, Wilds-Edwards House, and Mrs. B.F. Williamson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other information


In 1818 Darlington's growth proved time to build a school. The first schoolhouse built was named the Darlington Academy. In 1860, the name was changed to St. John's Academy. This building served educational purposes as well as the site for fund-raising and the lottery. St. John's Academy was later renamed St. John's High School. Still later, during renovation, St. John's Elementary School was added, followed by the move to a new school in 1977. It was renamed "Darlington High School" when it was combined with Mayo High School in 1995.

In September 2006, work was finished on the Darlington County Institute of Technology, Darlington Middle School, and Hartsville Middle School.

After desegregation, Mayo High School became a magnet school called Mayo High School for Math, Science, and Technology.

Early churches

In the 1820s, denominations, mostly the Baptists, met at the Court House. The Presbyterians built the first church. With the help of donations from all denominations, the church was built with the understanding that all denominations could have access to the building. The Baptists built their church in 1831, which had been planned since 1829. The Methodists built the third church in 1834, where the Methodist Cemetery is now located. The present-day Trinity United Methodist Church sanctuary was constructed in 1901. New Providence Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist church in the city of Darlington.

The Civil War

No battles during the Civil War occurred in Darlington. One of Sherman's lieutenants, a former architect, was sent to burn down part of Darlington. When he arrived and saw a house that he had designed, he left the house and the rest of the town standing. The federal troops burned down the depot, cotton platforms and railroad trestles in 1865. During this time, St. John's Academy was used as a hospital. Federal troops also did some foraging. In 1865, Confederate troops returned through Darlington and hanged a former slave named Amy Spain on the Public Square for insurrection. After the war, the town was occupied by federal troops, which were not withdrawn until 1871. By 1865, Darlington was the headquarters for the Third Separate Brigade of the Military District of Eastern South Carolina and the Freedmen's Bureau. In 1866, during the occupation, the worst fire to ever hit Darlington burned down the court house and the jail. It was rumored that drunken federal soldiers were to blame.

The Darlington Guards

Prior to the Civil War, as the South readied itself for secession, Darlington formed the Darlington Guards. When South Carolina seceded, they were the first called upon to defend Charleston. After their term of enlistment was over, the men returned to Darlington to reenlist in regiments going to Virginia. The Darlington Guards existed at this time for almost two years. They reorganized in later years and received their own armory in 1893. They were the first in the state to volunteer for the Spanish–American War in May 1898. They were also seen by President William McKinley in Savannah, Georgia, before being sent to Cuba for occupation duties near Havana. After coming home, they continued to serve in the National Guard. In 1915 the group retired from service again, only to be reinstated and sent to the Mexican border in 1916. After returning home, they served in World War I. The last surviving member, Thomas W. Buchanan, died in 1984.


Darlington is located southeast of the center of Darlington County at 34°18′5″N 79°52′7″W / 34.30139°N 79.86861°W / 34.30139; -79.86861 (34.301370, -79.868659). U.S. Routes 52 and 401 bypass the city on the southwest. US 52 leads southeast 10 miles (16 km) to Florence, US 401 leads southwest 38 miles (61 km) to Sumter, and the two highways together lead 17 miles (27 km) north to Society Hill. South Carolina Highway 34 passes through the center of Darlington, leading east 36 miles (58 km) to Dillon and west 23 miles (37 km) to Bishopville. Columbia, the state capital, is 76 miles (122 km) to the west.

Darlington Raceway is located on the western outskirts of town, 2 miles (3 km) west of the city center along SC 34/151.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Darlington has a total area of 4.6 square miles (11.8 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 940
1890 2,389 154.1%
1900 3,028 26.7%
1910 3,789 25.1%
1920 4,669 23.2%
1930 5,556 19.0%
1940 6,236 12.2%
1950 6,619 6.1%
1960 6,710 1.4%
1970 6,990 4.2%
1980 7,989 14.3%
1990 7,311 −8.5%
2000 6,720 −8.1%
2010 6,289 −6.4%
Est. 2015 6,155 −2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 6,289 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 60.4% Black, 37.7% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, <0.1% from some other race and 0.5% from two or more races. 0.7% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,720 people, 2,812 households, and 1,765 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,565 people per square mile (604.8/km²). There were 3,140 housing units at an average density of 731.7 per square mile (282.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 56.04% African American, 42.50% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 0.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 1.01% of the population.

There were 2,812 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.3% were married couples living together, 24.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 79.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,869, and the median income for a family was $33,971. Males had a median income of $28,110 versus $20,206 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,454. About 24.9% of families and 29.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.9% of those under age 18 and 29.5% of those age 65 or over.

In popular culture

Bruce Springsteen recorded "Darlington County" on his album Born in the U.S.A..

A 2012 article in Small Wars Journal explored a hypothetical military operation in which an extremist group sympathetic to the Tea Party movement takes over Darlington and clashes with federal troops. Conservative groups criticized the article, suggesting it reflected misplaced priorities.

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