History

Established as the county seat of Marlboro County on December 14, 1819, Bennettsville continues to serve as the political and economic center for the county.

In 1819, the town of Bennettsville was established and named in honor of Thomas Bennett, then governor of South Carolina. Bennettsville quickly grew into one of the richest agricultural communities in the state. Legend has it that the land is so rich it once was sold by the pound instead of the acre. The State of South Carolina recognized Bennettsville’s prominence by designating it South Carolina’s first “G.R.E.A.T. Town” (Governor’s Rural Economic Achievement Trophy).

Bennettsville’s affluent past and lifestyle are captured in the Victorian and Greek revival homes and public buildings. Bennettsville was occupied by Union forces in 1865. The Jennings-Brown House and original Marlboro County Courthouse served as headquarters for Union Major General Frank Blair and General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War. 

"The Gulf" Heritage tells the story of the colored business district, aka "The Gulf", in Bennettsville, South Carolina. For over 100 years, " The Gulf" was a place where African American professionals overcame many challenges and obstacles in a time when there were little-to-no opportunities for people of color. Visionary bankers and financial wizards saw needs and fulfilled them. There were dentists, physicians, pharmacists, educators, ministers, attorneys, farmers, and other business persons who contributed to the prosperity of "The Gulf". Prior to integration, it was a place where African American professionals overcame many challenges and obstacles in a time when there were little-to-no opportunities for people of color. Visionary bankers and financial wizards saw needs and fulfilled them. There were dentists, physicians, pharmacists, educators, ministers, attorneys, farmers, and other business persons who contributed to the prosperity of "The Gulf".  Prior to integration, it was also the only place that people of color had to go for entertainment and relaxation.  Sometimes there would be 200 to 300 people in the area on the weekends. "The Gulf" was a prime example of how democracy and freedom work and how in just one generation after emancipation, people of color were able to own property and start businesses. This time was a Renaissance period for African Americans in Bennettsville and "The Gulf" let the way!

 

Today Bennettsville is home to cultural venues, recreation activities and a lifestyle comparable to none.

Many visitors to Bennettsville and Marlboro County are seeking information on their ancestors from this area. Genealogy resources can be found here.