A History of Conway, South Carolina

Horry County Court House - Conway, SC (2007)

One of the early and important actions of the Royal Government was the Township Act of 1730; additional townships were authorized in 1761. The first Act authorized nine townships containing 20,000 acres each, and agents were sent to Europe to recruit families as settlers. The families were offered inducements such as free transportation to South Carolina, free provisions for one year, and free land. The townships neither created nor kept records; their functions were solely geographical. Townships, like parishes, were used for some tax districts and appeared as locators in grants and conveyances.

Kings Town Township was established and first settled in 1734 by Scots-Irish from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. It was located on the north bank of the Waccamaw River in northeastern South Carolina. By the end of the Royal Period its name had been shortened to Kingston Township and the town of Kingston was thriving therein. It was originally situated in the original Craven County, then in the new Kingston County of 1785.

Located a mere twelve miles from present-day Myrtle Beach, this scenic river town is one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. Originally named Kings Town, then shortened to Kingston, Conway was created in 1734 as part of Royal Governor Robert Johnson's Township Scheme, and was then considered the colonial frontier, quite a distance from Charles Town.

Conway's first European settlers were Scots-Irish immigrants who carved out a new life for themselves amid the wilderness of colonial America. The town was named Kingston to honor Great Britain's King George II. During the Revolutionary War, Brigadier General Francis Marion - "the Swamp Fox of the Revolution" - operated in this region, waging a monumental campaign for American freedom. On at least one documented occasion (perhaps many others were not documented), Marion and his men camped at Kingston during the American Revolution.

Following independence, the town was renamed Conwayborough in honor of Robert Conway, a veteran of the Revolution and a prominent local legislator. In the mid-1800s, the name was shortened simply to Conway. Led by hardworking townsmen and independent-minded farmers, Conway eventually flourished as South Carolina's outpost on the Waccamaw River.

During the War Between the States, most of its young men went off to fight for Southern independence, many never to return.

In the 1870s, Conway boomed as an export center for timber products, shipping tar, pitch, turpentine, and pine lumber around the world. The Wilmington, Chadbourn & Conway Railroad came to Conway in 1887, and a few years later a group of Conway businessmen extended it to the coast, launching what is now Myrtle Beach and its famous Grand Strand.

Conway has flourished as the county seat of Horry County, South Carolina and as the center of one of the largest tobacco-producing regions in the nation. Today, Conway is a pleasant, riverside town of quiet neighborhoods, historic structures, and moss-shrouded live oak trees. The best of the Old South's charm lives today in picturesque Conway, South Carolina's Historic Rivertown.

In 1768/9, the Royal Colony of South Carolina passed the District Court Act and eliminated all references to the old counties and townships with respect to governmental organization. The parishes remained intact, and even two new Parishes were established in 1768 - St. David's Parish and St. Matthew's Parish.

What had been Kings Town Township was now part of the much larger Georgetown District (created in 1769) and within All Saint's Parish (created in 1767) but the new "overarching Districts" were not truly functional until around 1772, right before the American Revolution.

Immediately after the American Revolution, the newly-independent State of South Carolina redefined its internal districts in 1785 and recreated a new version of "counties" quite unlike the mostly-ambiguous and unsurveyed counties that existed prior to 1769. In 1791, South Carolina once again redefined its districts to now include the specific newly-created counties. In 1800, South Carolina decided to rename all existing counties as districts, and the larger term for district was now obsolete - no more aggregation of counties into an "overarching District."

During all of this, Kings Town Township ceased to exist. In 1785, Kingston County was created with present-day boundaries, and in 1801 it was renamed to Horry County, in honor of Colonel Peter Horry, a French Huguenot officer in the South Carolina Continental Line during the American Revolution and later a Brigadier General in the South Carolina Militia and state Senator for this area. In 1868, all districts were retitled as counties, and the town of Conway is the county seat for Horry County, South Carolina

As Conwayborough, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on May 1, 1807, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Henry Durant. On April 17, 1882, the Post Office Department officially changed the name simply to Conway. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception in 1807.

Click Here to view / download a 1957 map of Conway, SC.

Click Here to view / download a 2018 map of Conway, SC. Adobe PDF file - 8 pages. Fairly large.

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