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African-American Heritage


People of Interest…


Dr. Isaac P. Brockenton


Isaac P. Brockenton was born in Lee County, SC on May 19, 1828. He was sold to Dr. Tomas Flynn of Darlington, SC in 1856. They both joined the First Baptist Church of Darlington the same time.

Shorty after the Civil War, Dr. Brockenton organized Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Darlington. He served as the pastor of Macedonia for forty-two years before his death on January 6, 1908.

Dr. Brockenton was a Trial Justice in Darlington for eight years, served as a Darlington County Commissioner and as a member of the House of Representatives during Reconstruction.



Simon Brown and Lawrence Faulkner
The small town of Society Hill is known around the world because of the stories of former slave Simon Brown that were successfully recorded by the Rev. Dr. William .J Faulkner.

African American Lawrence Faulkner was a Society Hill postmaster, teacher and merchant. He was a successful businessman and holder of property, including his own store in Society Hill.

When he passed away in 1898 his widow hired former slave, Simon Brown, to work on her farm. Brown was a gifted story-teller who shared his tales with Faulkner's son William, who later immortalized them in Brer Rabbit and His Friends and recorded them in The Days When Animals Talked.

"I collect stories the same way some people collect stamps," noted folklorist Dr. William J. Faulkner, "and the stories of my Black ancestors have so much importance and so much beauty that I want to tell them to the world."

Brown told fascinating stories of "the animals that could walk and talk like men-folks." His allegories were posthumously recorded by the Smithsonian Institution.

A double-sided historical marker was erected on Society Hill's Main Street by the Darlington County Historical Commission in 1989 to honor Lawrence Faulkner and Simon Brown.




Dr. Daniel Collins
Dentist Daniel A. Collins was born in June 1916 in Darlington. He attended elementary and high school in Darlington, and following high school graduation in 1932, attended Paine College in Augusta, Ga. where he received a B.S. degree in science.

Collins continued his studies at Meharry Medical College where he earned his D.D.S. degree. He later obtained a master's degree in dental science from the University of San Francisco.

Prior to moving to California, Collins studied children's dentistry at the Guggenheim Clinic in New York City. He was offered a teaching position in California in 1942, where he became the first African-American dentist on the faculty of the School of Dental Science at the University of San Francisco. He continued teaching until 1968, when he opened a private practice.

Collins founded the Oral-Facial Consultative Service, which provides constructive surgery for those with facial deformities, and he was a co-publisher of the newspaper Reporter. Collins later joined Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. as Director of the West Coast Division, where he was instrumental in hiring several African American staff members.

Throughout his career, Collins was involved in politics both locally and nationally. He helped to establish the National Urban League's San Francisco Bay Area office, the San Francisco Foundation for Aged Colored People and the Northern California United Negro College Fund. Collins passed away on September 13, 2007.




Edmund H. Deas
Originally from Stateburg and moved to Darlington in 1870. He was widely known as the “Duke of Darlington.” He was a noted African-American politician who served as county chairman of the Republican Party in 1884 and 1888. He was also a South Carolina delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1888, 1896, 1900, and 1908.

Edmund H. Deas died in 1915.




Dr. W.F. "Bill" Gibson
Dr. William Frank Gibson, a Darlington native, earned a Doctor of Dental Science degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. and became a licensed dentist in 1959. Dr. Gibson became passionately involved in the civil rights movement after moving to Greenville. He was president of the South Carolina Conference of Branches for the NAACP for 18 years. He also served as the Chairman of the National Board of Directors for the NAACP for ten years.

It was during this time that Gibson's leadership helped the NAACP to enter into agreements with major corporations, which opened numerous franchising and employment opportunities for African Americans.

After founding the Black Council for Progress, Dr. Gibson was elected president of the NAACP Greenville Branch in 1971; elected president of the NAACP SC Conference of Branches in 1977; and served as Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors from 1985 to 1996.

Dr. Gibson worked tirelessly in advancing the causes that otherwise would have robbed communities of their vitality. Things like economic participation, drug intervention, teenage pregnancy and other social ills.

Dr. Gibson's achievements and lengthy public service earned him an impressive list of awards and honors. He was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest-ranking recognition that the state of South Carolina awards to civilians.

Dr. Gibson passed away at the age of 69 in 2002, and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson helped to deliver the eulogy at his funeral.

Photo by Ken Osburn


Dr. Mabel Keith Howard
Dr. Mabel Keith Howard was born in Darlington and educated in Darlington County public schools. She graduated from Atlanta University, and is considered to be the first African-American woman in the state to earn a college degree.

Dr. Howard was active in many civic and religious organizations. She served as the superintendent of the Macedonia Baptist Church for 25 years, and president of the Woman's Baptist State Convention for 29 years.

She was a trustee of Morris College, and in recognition of her leadership a building at Morris College was named in her honor.




Hon. Richard H. Humbert
Historians have yet to establish a date of birth or death for Richard H. Humbert, a resident of Darlington County, born in Charleston.

It is assumed that Humbert was exceptionally smart, in that he was a slave who taught himself how to read and write. In fact, he wrote his own pass for freedom.

He was an active member of the Republican Party, and an organizer for African Americans in 1868. Humbert served in the House of Representatives for eight years.



Annie G. Nelson
Annie Greene Nelson is the first known published, female African American author in the state of South Carolina. She was born and raised in Darlington County.

Her education started at a five-month school on the Parrot's Plantation in Darlington County and later she attended Benedict and Voorhees Colleges.

Annie Green Nelson's first published work, a poem entitled “What Do You Think of Mother,” appeared in the Palmetto Leader newspaper in 1925. In part she said of her mother: "So, while she lives be true, remember, she's the best thing on earth. So, honor, love and cherish the one who gave you birth."

Mrs. Nelson's first published book, After the Storm (1945), and subsequent books, The Dawn Appears, Don't Walk on My Dreams, and Shadows of the South Land depict the lifestyles of average African-American people. Her plays, “Weary Fireside Blues”, which was produced off-Broadway, and the “Parrots' Plantation” as well as her book, To Paw With Love, are autobiographical in that they reveal aspects of her triumphs and tragedies growing up in SC.

"If a person is going to write, it must be a compulsion. A book, a story is something that must be written so people can feel it, see it as it unfolds. The plantation life was one of my most favorite subjects -- the faith, the struggle, the perseverance. They never gave up -- the strict morals -- the hard work... That is why I wrote After the Storm."

Mrs. Nelson passed away in 1993 at the age of 91.



Isaiah DeQuincey Newman
Isaiah Newman was born April 17, 1911. He was an African American clergyman, civil rights leader.

Born in Darlington County SC. Isaiah DeQuincey Newman was the son of the Reverend Melton C. Newman and Charlotte Elizabeth Morris. He attended Williamsburg County public schools and Claflin College and was ordained in the United Methodist Church (UMC) in 1931.

Early in his ministry, Newman identified the struggle for racial equality as a matter of the spirit, as well as a social and political concern, and he developed a preaching style that linked morality with practicality, especially in reference to race relations.

In 1943 Newman helped organize the Orangeburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He contributed to the NAACP in a variety of capacities, including service as South Carolina field director from 1960 to 1969. Newman was a gentle, self-effacing man, patient and slow to anger, who preferred diplomacy to confrontation. A tenacious advocate for simple justice in race relations, he also believed in non-violent protest as the most effective means for achieving the goal.

On October 25, 1983, Newman became the first African American since 1887 to serve in the state senate. Newman served with distinction on several senate committees, until ill health forced him to resign his seat; he died in Columbia SC. on October 21, 1985.



Stephen Presley
Father Stephen Presley was born a slave in 1820. He was owned by Boykin Witherspoon, a prominent planter from Society Hill. Presley was a carpenter by trade. He married another slave by the name of Phyllis McIver Presley. Welsh Neck Baptist Church records indicate that the couple fellowshipped there as slaves but were dismissed in October 1854.

Witherspoon, like many other Darlington District residents migrated west in search of fertile ground ideal for planting. They settled in a then virtually unoccupied area of Desoto Parish, Louisiana which was previously inhabited by the Caddo Indians, bringing with them over 200 slaves.

As a carpenter, Presley along with other slaves helped with the building of Witherspoon’s “Buena Vista Plantation” which was designed by Architect, M. Robbins in 1859 and was used a Confederate Hospital during the Civil War.

After slavery, Presley founded, built, and pastored 3 churches in Desoto Parish including Bethel Baptist Church in Frierson, Morningstar Baptist Church in Gloster and Mechanicsville Baptist in Caspiana, Louisiana. The latter was named for the church and town in his native Darlington District, South Carolina.

All of the churches he founded in Louisiana are still serving the community over 100 years after his death in 1904. His many descendants gather every other year for a reunion to celebrate his legacy and their Louisiana/South Carolina roots. His great-great-great grand-daughter, Karen Burney, a genealogist from California has made visits to Society Hill to research and honor her ancestors.




Lawrence Reese
Lawrence Reese was a master craftsman and architect. He was born in 1864 in Marlboro County on his family's farm.

As a teen, Lawrence learned the rudiments of basic carpentry. He decided early on that he preferred carpentry to farming. He left the farm and traveled to Darlington around 1887.

In Darlington, Reese gained experience and expertise in his trade, and his reputation as a talented craftsman and builder grew. He educated himself about emerging architectural trends and applied his own signature detailing.

Most of the houses designed and built by Reese were two-story with double porches. All contain high ceilings, hardwood floors, and signature fireplaces. Historic records indicate that fourteen extant residences are attributed to Lawrence Reese. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 as the West Broad Street Historic District, and are all located on the same street. In the early 1900s, the area was known as “Reese’s Row.”

Two other buildings outside “Reese’s Row” were also designed and built by Lawrence Reese: the Edward Sanders House on South Main Street and the Western Railway Station. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lawrence Reese died in 1915. His architectural achievements spanned a period of thirty years. In 2001 a marker was unveiled and dedicated, honoring Lawrence Reese for his outstanding architectural achievements.



Arthur W. Stanley
Arthur Whitfield Stanley was born in Darlington on August 19, 1914. As a young man, he served his country faithfully in World War II in the Pacific Theater. Upon his return, he confronted issues of discrimination head-on in Darlington County.

Stanley served the Darlington chapter of the NAACP as its president, a post he held for forty years, and led the effort to desegregate the public school system in Darlington County through legal action as a successful plaintiff in the memorable Stanley v. the Darlington County School District.

In addition, Stanley initiated a legal challenge to the discriminatory polling practices of the City of Darlington municipal elections. His efforts led to the adoption of three single-member electoral districts and three at-large districts. He holds the distinction of being the first African American elected to a seat on Darlington City Council.

Stanley received the Order of the Palmetto from South Carolina Governor David Beasley and the Arthur W. Stanley Gymnasium in Darlington was named in his honor.

The members of the South Carolina House of Representatives recognized Stanley for his many contributions to the City of Darlington and many years of community service by introducing and adopting a resolution in his honor on June 22, 2011.

Places of Interest…


Sixth Street, Hartsville 
N 34° 21.539 W 080° 04.206 
Butler School, located on this site since 1921, was the second
public school to serve Hartsville's black community and operated for over sixty years. Known as the Darlington Co. Training School until 1939, it was renamed for the Rev. Henry H. Butler, its principal from 1909-1946. The first building on this site burned in 1961; extant buildings date from 1936 to the mid-1960s. Butler School was a junior high and high school when it closed in 1982.



Avenue D and Friendship Sts., Darlington
N 34° 18.087 W 079° 51.378 
The Darlington Memorial Cemetery, also known as the Darlington Community Cemetery or the Darlington City Cemetery, is significant as the first cemetery established for the African-American community of Darlington and for its association with many prominent black citizens of the town from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century. It is also an intact example of a cemetery reflecting typical burial customs and gravestone art during this period. The cemetery dates from 1890, when the trustees of Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery purchased a five-acre tract to establish a cemetery for members of the church and other members of Darlington’s black community. Until 1946 it was the only African-American cemetery within the city limits of Darlington. It was expanded by four additional acres in 1946 when the Bethel A.M.E. Church Cemetery and the St. James Methodist Church Cemetery were established and laid out adjacent to it, adding two acres each for a total of approximately nine acres. These three cemeteries are collectively known as the Darlington Memorial Cemetery, still the primary cemetery for the African-American community in Darlington.



229 Avenue E, Darlington 
N 34° 17.729 W 079° 51.755 
After moving to Darlington County in the 1870s, Edmund H. Deas served as county chairman of the Republican Party for a number of years and was a delegate to four national conventions. A black candidate for Congress in 1884 and 1890, Deas was Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue in S. C., 1889-94 and 1897- 1901. This house was his residence at his death in 1915.



1369 Society Hill Road, Darlington 
N 34° 21' 41.68" W 79° 50' 32.37" 
This African-American church was founded in 1877, with Rev. Daniel Jesse as its first pastor. It held its first services in a brush arbor, and acquired a site about 2 mi. SE on Flat Creek Rd. in 1881, building a frame sanctuary there. The church, known through the years as Simmons´ Flat, Summer´s House, the Grove, and Maggie Branch, was renamed Flat Creek Baptist Church by 1927.

In 1913 Rev. Henry Hannibal Butler (1887-1948), newly ordained, came to Flat Creek Baptist Church as his first pastorate. Butler, principal of Darlington Co. Training School / Butler School in Hartsville (renamed for him in 1939), was later president of the S.C. State Baptist Convention and president of Morris College. The congregation moved here and built the present brick church in 2000.



630 S. 6th Street, Hartsville 
N 34° 21' 58.78" W 80° 04' 19.55" 
The first public school for the black children of Hartsville and vicinity operated on this site from about 1900 to 1921. It was renamed Darlington County Training School in 1918. A new school was built on 6th St. south of this site in 1921. Rev. Henry H. Butler (1887-1948) was principal at both sites for a combined 37 years. The 1921 school was renamed Butler School in Butler’s honor in 1939.

Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church grew out of a Sunday school started on this site by Rev. T.J. James in 1922. The church was organized that same year, and a new church building was erected nearby in 1926. Rev. James also founded Mt. Pisgah Nursery School, which operated in the old graded school here for many years. Rev. James’s family later donated this property to the city for Pride Park, established in 1986.




US Hwy 52 and Brockington Rds. 
N 34° 17.366 W 079° 52.966
Henry "Dad" Brown (1830-1907), a black veteran of the Civil War, Mexican, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars, is buried 75 feet north with his wife Laura. Variously said to have been born free or born as a slave who purchased his and Laura's freedom, he was born near Camden. Brown, a brick mason, joined the Confederate army in May 1861 as a drummer in the "Darlington Grays," Co. F, 8th S.C. Infantry, Brown enlisted as a drummer in Co. H, 21st S.C. Infantry in 1861 and served for the rest of the war, "capturing" a pair of Union drumsticks in battle. He was also a member of the "Darlington Guards" 1878-1907. Described as "a man of rare true worth" at his death in 1907, Brown was honored by Darlington citizens who erected the monument nearby.



West Broad Street Historic District (NR) 
SC Western Railway Station (NR) 
West Broad Street, Darlington 
N 34° 17.924 W 079° 52.266 
West Broad Street features several late- 19th to early 20th century residences designed and built by Lawrence Reese (1864- 1915), a native of Marlboro County who came to Darlington as a merchant by 1887. Reese, who had no formal training in architecture, was a self-taught master craftsman and designer. The Belk Funeral Home, at 229 West Broad, was built ca. 1900 as a residence for Abraham Hyman and was Reese's own favorite of the several houses he designed here. The West Broad Street Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, features 14 houses designed and built by Lawrence Reese between ca. 1890 and ca. 1910, most of them with elaborate Eastlake, Queen Anne, and other Victorian era architectural elements. Reese also designed and built the South Carolina Western Railway Station on Russell Street, built in 1911 and listed in the National Register in 1988.



South Main Street, Darlington 
N 34° 17.867 W 079° 52.045 
Tradition says first meetings of this Baptist Church were held in the home of Laura Brown. A house of worship was constructed on the northeast corner of present S. Main and Hampton Streets on land purchased during 1866-1874. The present site was acquired in 1922 and the building occupied Feb. 3, 1935. This Baptist Church was constituted when a group of black members led by the Rev. Isaac Brockenton withdrew from the Darlington Baptist Church on Feb. 11, 1866.



3208 N. Governor Williams Hwy, Darlington 
N 34° 23' 45.98" W 79° 54' 05.84" 
This church, founded in 1869, was organized by 36 black members of nearby Black Creek Baptist Church, who received letters of dismissal to form their own congregation. Rev. William Hart, its first minister, served until his death in 1872. He was succeeded by his son, Rev. Alfred Hart, who served here 1872-79, after representing Darlington County in the S.C. House 1870-72.


The church held its first services in a brush arbor on this site, which its trustees bought from James C. McCallman in 1872. After worshipping under a frame shelter for several years, Mt. Zion built its first permanent sanctuary, a frame building, in 1890. The congregation grew enough to build a second frame church in 1908. The present brick sanctuary was dedicated in 1979.



3500 New Hopewell Road, Hartsville 
N 34° 25' 47.37" W 79° 58' 25.88" 
This church was formally organized soon after the Civil War. It was founded by 20 black members of Antioch Baptist Church, who received letters of dismissal to form their own congregation in 1869. Slaves and free blacks had belonged to Antioch Baptist Church since its organization in 1830.

This church held its first services in a brush arbor. In 1871 Mrs. Lottie Cosom donated an acre on this site, later expanded to four acres for the church and cemetery. New Hopewell built its first permanent church here in 1886, renovated in 1887 and 1917-18. The present sanctuary was built in 1962.




410 Rosenwald St, Society Hill 
N 34°28'36.01" W 79°51'31.94" 
The Julius Rosenwald Consolidated School, built in 1930, was a combined elementary and high school until 1953 and a high school until 1982. It brought in African-American students from three rural schools in and near Society Hill. A brick school built at a cost of $11,150, it was one of almost 500 in S.C. funded in part by the Julius Rosenwald Foundation 1917-1932. Arthur A. Prince was its first principal.

The school opened with pupils in grades 1-10; grade 11 was added in 1939 and grade 12 in 1948. A frame industrial education building was built in 1936. The school, accredited after World War II, became Rosenwald High School, though it continued to include elementary pupils until 1954, when a new Rosenwald Elementary School was built in Society Hill. The high school closed in 1982.



Pearl Street, Darlington 
N 34° 18.060 W 079° 52.483 
This United Methodist Church was originally named Pearl Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The first trustees were Henry Brown, Abner Black, Wesley Dargan, Zeddidiah Dargan, January Felder, Randolph Hart and the Rev. B. Frank Whittemore. Tradition says Federal occupation troops supplied the church bell, which they had taken from nearby St. John's Academy. In 1866, this United Methodist Church was founded by freedmen with aid from the Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Society. The minister was the Rev. Liverus Ackerman, and the first building, used as a school for freedmen, was completed by April 1866.



290 Church Street, Society Hill 
N 34° 49.6188 W 079° 85.377 
Black merchant and educator Zachariah Wines was born in 1847 in Society Hill, represented Darlington County in the S.C. House 1876-78, and was commissioned captain in the National Guard by Gov. Wade Hampton in 1877. He taught at nearby Waddell School and later served as Society Hill Postmaster, 1897- 1904. He died in 1920 and is buried about 1/3 mile northeast.

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