Marlboro County, SC History
The Old Stage Road

 
 

 

The following article was transcribed from microfilm of the Pee Dee Advocate newspaper, and contributed by Mary Lewis, 2004. It's a fascinating era of Marlboro's history and I cannot thank Mary enough for sharing it with us, nor Mrs. Faison for writing it.

I've taken the liberty of adding an 1895 map for illustration (which was not part of the original article), and emphasizing some names and places mentioned. Click on the small map to view a larger version. -- Victoria

Pee Dee Advocate newspaper published in Bennettsville, S.C. April 19, 1915 page 4.

Paper Read by Mrs. J. A. Faison at Recent Meeting of Pee Dee Chapter Daughter of American Revolution, and Published by Request of Chapter.

THE OLD STAGE ROAD

Click to view large version In this age of steam and electricity and all modern ways of rapid transit, we look back and smile when we read and hear talk of the "Dashing Stage Coach" but the Stage Coach played its part in the history of our county, and immortalized the Old Stage Road, which was a part of the metropolitan line from New York to New Orleans. This line first passed through Adamsville in 1883 this line from Cheraw to the "Old Scotch Fair Ground" in North Carolina was established. It started from the old Cheraw Hotel which is still standing. It was then a tavern for the Stage Coaches. From this tavern, branch lines radiated, connecting with this through line stages left daily for Charleston, Charlotte and other cities. These lines were owned by wealthy men, and contracts were given out by them to parties. Our line was owned by Haynesworth of Sumter; McLean of North Carolina; Stgall and others.

The drivers were important personages, and among those serving this line we will mention Britt, Bright, Martin, Surles, Allen, McCorquordale, and a witty Irishman, Kelly, was the last. Allen McCorquordale became a prominent minister in the M. E. church after which he used to visit in the old Scotch settlement and preached in gallic to his ----slan . This stage route was discontinued after the completion of the railroads. The last gap was between Camden, S.C. and Warsaw, N.C. The stage coaches were drawn by four horses, and had accommodations for from eight to ten passengers who sat facing each other, with their baggage under their seats and on top of the coach and sometimes under the driver’s seat. The mail was carried in a leather bag, similar to those used now by the star route. These coaches ran twice daily, one coming and one going. They had a relay of horses every nine or ten miles.

After leaving the tavern at Cheraw the first relay was at Stafford Gibson’s just on the other side of Gibson station and thence to the Old Scotch Fair Ground at Laurel Hill, N.C. A post office stood where Brightsville post office now stands and was kept by John W. Stubbs. He sold tickets for this line, and here many travelers got on. Everybody gave way for the "Dashing Stage Coach" the driver blew his horn, which was a tin trumpet from four to six feet long, and could be heard two or three miles. The roads were very narrow in some places and required this signal to keep the road clear and thus avoid the least delay. There was only one tavern between Cheraw and Laurel Hill and it stood near where George Ballard, Jr. lives and was kept for a long time by Stand White. It was an unpretentious frame building without a chimney at first, the accommodations were very poor, and just here if you will pardon a personal allusion, I will say that at the home of Capt. Henry Easterling the weary travelers found welcome and unbounded hospitality. Many distinguished men partook of this hospitality, among them Gov. Orr, John C. Calhoun and many celebrities from other states. Our representatives used this route, and many lasting friendships were cemented by this old house.

This mode of travel was not exempt from dangers, wrecks, and petty inconveniences. At Godwin’s mill the coach was "held up" by two armed men, the driver being well armed, and aided by his passengers put their assailants to flight and pursued their journey. A thrilling scene took place at Easterling’s mill, his lead horses, impatient to go on, jumped into the pond, the coach became uncoupled, and all four houses, coach and passengers went overboard having the back wheels on the dam, the screams for help soon brought the Negroes from the quarter just across the pond and happily all were rescued. Another incident occurred at the same pond. –just before crossing the dam at the old saw mill the water was shallow and often the drivers would water their horses before crossing. On this occasion the horses got into a hole and upset the coach, the only two passengers, an old gentleman and his wife, en route to New York were drowned before help reached them. Many amusing incidents too are told of the drivers sometimes "warming up" before leaving the taverns and running their horses at a lively rate.

This Old Stage road from the Cheraw tavern to the North Carolina line has done her part as nobly as any other part of the country in furnishing the men to build up our commonwealth. Every square mile has furnished heroes. Some may not have adorned pages of song and story, yet they will live locally forever in the heart of a brave and --------- people. This portion of the county furnished a governor to the state, Governor John Lide Wilson. He married first Governor Allston’s sister. His second wife was the ward of Aaron Burr. He wrote the famous :"Wilson Dueling Code" the code observed in America in antebellum days. Chas. Mott Lide, his uncle also a son of Marlboro, though eratic, was considered one of South Carolina’s most gifted sons. Dr J. H. Thornwell, the eminent southern divine was born near this road. It was said that on one occasion Gen. Gillespie was passing through a field, came to a gate, seeing a small boy minding a calf for his mother to milk, he asked him to open the gate for him. The dutiful son said, "I will if you will mind the calf." The General became interested in him, and a few years later he and Mr. Robbins of Cheraw educated him. Charles Thornwell, his brother, was the leading lawyer at the bar of Bennettsville when he died at the age of thirty-six. He married a sister of Judge Townsend, and has one son living James H. Thornwell.

The name of Claudius Pegues, a captain in the Rev., and Ordinary for Cheraw district, a Justice for Marlboro, and a member of the legislature, is honored and respected. Many worthy descendants still live in the locality. Randolph and Wesley Pegues were prominent Methodist preachers. Our worthy Senator J J Evans is a descendant of Claudius Pegues. We find the names of Gen. Harrington, Hicks, and Irby all enlisted on the patriotic side – names never to be forgotten. Representative men of every calling have gone forth from this road. Drs Cornelius Kollock, and H. R Easterling finished their medical course in Paris under Cazeau, Valpeau and Malgigne, and other eminent French surgeons. Dr Dudley of Blenheim was a student at the same time. Mr J. B. Bellingsby is remembered as the noted "note shaver." He married the widow Catherine Bedgegood. Mrs. Ann Lide, an esteemed old lady, lived near Phill’s creek.

Among the early representatives of the county a name prominent in early affairs, is that of Maj. Drury Robertson, a representative man in every respect. He married a Miss Winfield of Virginia. He was an extensive land owner, his large estates covering thousands of acres of land, beginning above Goodwin’s mill and going to Pee Dee river. He built the house at Easterling’s mill (now McLaurin’s mill), and this is one of the oldest houses in the county, being built one hundred and thirty years ago. Lafayette spent the night here on his way to Georgetown and here Gen. Winfield Scott read law while visiting his relatives, the Robertsons. Maj. Robertson left two daughters; one married a Hearsey and moved West. George Hearsey of Blenheim is her grandson. The other daughter married first an Ellerbe, the father of Col. W. T. Ellerbe. After his death she married a Prince, and had one son. There are no living descendants. Mrs Prince, as a widow, lived at the "Old Prince Place", which was a part of Drury Robertson’s estate, with her son, Col. Wl T. Ellerbe, a man of noble character and broad culture. He represented his country many years in the legislature. This magnificent home was surrounded by an old Colonial garden, the only one of the kind in Marlboro. It covered several acres of ground and was fashioned and laid out much in the style of the garden at Mt. Vernon. The flower beds and borders were hedged with box wood and in this plot bloomed and boloosmed from common hollyhocks, sweat alyssum, and every ready growing flower to the rare exotics that with care and attention could be made to live in this clime. Mrs Prince was an invalid from a fall, and Col. Ellerbe designed this garden for her pleasure and here with her companion, Mrs. Black, much of her time was spent. The pleasure circle was a circular plot lmade of cedars planted in a circle, their tops tied together wen young. They were kept pruned and the doors and windows were shaped. Around the roots of the cedars jasmine and woodbine trailed, and when in bloom the contrasting colors lent charm to the vision. On the inside of the circle easy chairs and tables were placed for loungers. The last vestige of house and garden were destroyed by Maxwell, a Negro senator, during the Reconstruction period. He got possession of the property by paying the taxes. The finest library in the county at that time was owned by Col. Ellerbe. He and his mother rest in Robertson’s burying grounds just back of Easterling’s mill, and a stately magnolia marks his grave. Mrs. Black after Mrs. Prince’s death became a nurse in the Florence hospital dudring the war between the states. Capt. Henry Easterling a----------- Drury Robertson’s estate including the house, and lived here until his death. John L. McLaurin lately purchased part of the property.

James Moore lived on stage road where Willis Turlington used to live. He first married an Easterling, and the second time a Bethea of Marion. James Moore of Latta is the only descendant. Benj. Moore, Sr. lived where Alex Moore now lives. He bought his land from Maj. Robertson which abutted the Stage Road. He married a daughter of Wm. Stubbs, a Revolutionary soldier, and raised a large family. The names of Odom, Stubbs, Cox, and Bright were the only families between here and Goodwin’s mill. The names are still identified with this locality. Shadrack Easterling took up a grant of land from Thos. Pinckney in 1789 on Stage Road opposites where George Bullard, Sr. now lives but he sold and moved to Mississippi in the early part of the nineteenth century. Lamar Fitzhugh Easterling, the present Attorney General of Mississippi, is his great grandson. – W. Godwin’s name appears as one who signed the "Ordinance of Secession", from this county. His wife was Luca A. Stubbs, the grand daughter of Capt. Daniel Sparks. Her mother, Lucy Sparks, first married Alexander Stubbs, the ancestor of W. D. Moore, and the second time she married Rev. Thos. Stubbs a noted Baptist preacher and Lucy Goodwin was the only child by this marriage.

Boykin church was founded in 1805, named for the family of Boykins and was one of the oldest religious centers in the eastern part of the state. The first deed for this church for two acres for two dollars, was deeded to Samuel Boykin, Matthew Boykin, Thos. Turner, Wm. Seal, Robt. Purneil. Ed Crosland, James Spears, Aaron Knight and Sol Rye. These families who lived in this neighborhood then, have disappeared and not one of the nine trustees named in the original deed, executed over a hundred years ago, remain here.

Mr. Edward Crosland married Ann Snead, of North Carolina. He was the ancestor of the Crosland family. He moved near Gardner’s Bluff from this section, and reared a large family. After leaving Boykin church on the "Old Fair Ground", we find Gibson, Adams and Gibson – Chas. Gibson, the father of Col. J. P. Gibson; Robertson Adams, Jepetha Adams, Ziba Adams, Noah Gibson, Wm. Gibson, all men of sterling qualities. The present town of Gibson used to be a commercial center for all that section of the county, and Noah Gibson was the only merchant. He amassed a fortune. It was at the store of Noah Gibson that Lauachlin Me---- began clerking as a lad and here he spent his life, with the exception of a few years spent in Bennettsville. By honesty and industry, he amassed wealth, and is the father of our worthy regent, Mrs. Pratt. If you will look over the list of Confederate soldiers from this county you will see the names of these people and the bones of many of their noblest sons are today sleeping at Richmond, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, and in Federal cemeteries, where they died prisoners of war. These men were sons of those pioneer men who stood strong for freedom, the characteristics of Americans.

Now we will note a few historical spots on this road. Leaving the old tavern at Cheraw we reach the river bridge, the spot where Sherman’s army under Gen. Logan and Benj. Harrison (afterwards President) fought the Confederates, who retreated, burning the bridge after them as the Federals entered it. Sherman then built a pontoon bridge, and his soldiers crossed just below the site of the present bridge. Col. Wm. Stokes in his memoirs of the war says "Col. Hugh K. Aiken of the 6th S. C. V. was killed here". Just after crossing the bridge to the left of this road, near Kollock, is a cemetery, the burial place of the Wilson family. This is the field in which Green when sent South after Gates’ defeat at Camden to take charge of the southern division of the American army, made his camp. He was joined here by Light Horse Harry Lee, father of Gen. Robt. E. Lee, who came from Virginia with a body of horsemen, which formed Green’s calvary. From here Green marched to Guilford court house North Carolina, and fought Cornwallis. In this battle the British lost so heavily that they retreated to Yorktown and surrendered.

Again to the Stage Road, we find Sherman’s army encamped at Easterling’s mill in March 1865 (just fifty years ago), for several days. From this point the army divided, one part going by Bennettsville and the other division going up the Stage Road and camping near Bright (now Stubbs) graveyard. In this onward march as they left their camp they burned the house of Dr. H. R. Easterling to the ground, destroying everything within their reach that they could not carry away with them – but let us throw the veil of charity over those heart rending scenes and bury the past.

Again on this road in 1876; the distinguished Gen. Wade Hampton driven by a pair of horses in company with Col. John Harrington, led the red shirts forth --- redeem their loved state from the carpet baggers and robbers. Her loyal sons will always rise up to protest her fair name against foul assault and the memories of political economics. "All honor to this matchless leader."

Jesse K. Faison

March 1915

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