Bennettsville is a city located in the U.S. state of South Carolina on the Great Pee Dee River. As the county seat of Marlboro County, Bennettsville is noted for its historic homes and buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries — and the Bennettsville Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the 2000 census, Bennettsville has a population of 9,425.
|Bennettsville, South Carolina|
The Marlboro County courthouse
Location of Bennettsville in
Bennettsville is located at (34.621270, -79.684830).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.2 square miles (16 km2), of which, 5.6 square miles (15 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (10.13%) is water.
The city of Bennettsville was founded in 1819 on the Great Pee Dee River and named afterThomas Bennett, Jr., then governor of South Carolina. The area was developed for short-staple cotton cultivation, dependent on the labor of enslaved African Americans. Many were brought to the upland area from the Lowcountry, carrying their Gullah culture with them. Others were transported from the Upper South by slave traders. This shift to cotton cultivation in the uplands was based on the development of the cotton gin, which made short-staple cotton, cotton with relatively short fibers, profitable. The advent of the gin in turn led to development of large cotton plantations throughout the Deep South.
In the same year, the S.C. General Assembly authorized the relocation of the courthouse from the eastern bank of the Great Pee Dee River to a more central location, selecting a 3-acre (12,000 m2) apple orchard located on a bluff above Crooked Creek. The new courthouse was designed by South Carolina architect Robert Mills. Streets were developed radiating courthouse square, one of the state's largest. In 1852, the Mills building was replaced.
In 1865 during the last year of the Civil War, the city was occupied by Union troops. During this time, the Jennings-Brown House and the first County Courthouse were used as the headquarters for General William T. Sherman. The new courthouse escaped burning. This is one of the few county seats that has preserved records dating to 1785; they are available for genealogical research.
In 1884, another Second Empire-style courthouse was built on the site. In 1952-1954 it was later enlarged with additions, and the 1884 portion constitutes the central portion of the current building. Additions included two-story red brick wings and the present clock steeple, all designed by Bennettsville architect Henry D. Harrall.
In 1885, Duncan Donald McColl financed development of the first railroad, bank and textile mills in Bennettsville, stimulating the economy as the town was connected to other markets and built an industry. The economy boomed during this "king cotton" era. The city became the center of one of the richest agricultural areas in the state. In the 20th century, the State of South Carolina designated Bennettsville as one its first "G.R.E.A.T. Town" (Governor's Rural Economic Achievement Trophy).
The county is still largely rural, with limited job opportunities. The county seat serves as a trading center for the county.
The Federal Correctional Institution, Bennettsville was built outside of the city in the county. It is a medium-security prison for male prisoners, and has an associated minimum-security camp holding 139 prisoners. Together the facility houses 1776 prisoners.