The City of Darlington was founded in 1835 and chartered by the South Carolina General Assembly the same year. Darlington was built around the courthouse and the surrounding area known as the Public Square. The City of Darlington was occupied by General Sherman’s troops in early 1865 with the train depot and cotton stores being burned.
From 1890 until 1920, Darlington grew as a agricultural town with cotton and tobacco sales playing an important role. In 1899 Bright Leaf tobacco replaced cotton as Darlington’s top cash crop. For many years Darlington had the largest tobacco market in South Carolina. (Today the City of Darlington is a member of the South Carolina Cotton and Tobacco Trails).
In 1940 Darlington had a population of just over 5,000 and the population growth continued after World War II. By 1970 Darlington had more than 7,000 residents. Darlington’s agricultural boom lasted until the late 1970’s when tobacco began to fade from the scene. In 2008 Darlington has no tobacco markets, but cotton continues to play an important part in the town’s economy. The City of Darlington has a cotton gin, on East Broad Street, and a cotton seed oil mill (Hartsville Oil Mill) on Washington Street.
The City of Darlington is home of Darlington Raceway founder Harold Brasington, who built the superspeedway in 1949 and 1950. Today Darlington Raceway is home to the Dodge Challenger 500 on Mother’s Day weekend each May.
Famous Darlington Natives
Harry Byrd played major league baseball with the Philadelphia Athletics as a pitcher and was 1953 American League rookie of the year.
Orlando Hudson played for the Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League and he is a three-time gold-glove winner for his stellar defensive play at second base.
Elliott Williams was a Medal of Honor recipient and is the most decorated Navy enlisted person in the history of the United States Navy. He fought in both Korea and Vietnam and recently a United States Navy destroyer was dedicated in his name.
Willam G. “Billy” Farrow was a United States Lieutenant who was one of General Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders that were the first Americans to bomb Tokyo, Japan in World War II. Farrow, age 24, was captured by the Japanese and executed for his role in the bombing. Lieutenant Farrow is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Photo courtesy of the Darlington County Historical Commission