Loris: The First Hundred Years

By Catherine H. Lewis

From Loris Centennial 1887 - 1987 Souvenir Book; 1987

The upper reaches of Horry County were settled mostly by second and third generation Scots, whose families had settled in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina. Because there was no natural or geographical barrier between the provinces (later states) people moved back and forth without hindrance.

Early names were Boyd, Patterson, Cox, Prince, and Todd, among others. The Mill's Atlas map drawn by Harllee in 1820 shows almost no settlement between Buck Creek and Lake Swamp, but does show a road leading to Todd's Ferry on the Waccamaw River.

On July 4, 1881, a man named J.W. Ogilvie arrived in Horry County. More than a quarter of a century later, in 1909, he wrote a series of articles describing his impressions of his new home county. Of this vicinity he said: "Loris was unknown. The site of that coming city was but a worn out corn field that would not have brought at forced sale more than 25 cents an acre."

The livelihood of people in the area depended on what they could grow themselves and on timber and turpentine which came from the woods. Chadbourn Lumber Company of Wilmington had been engaged in logging for a number of years and operated saw mills just over the line in North Carolina. It constructed rail lines to facilitate getting timber to the mills. When it decided to extend its operations into Horry County, the firm persuaded townships along the proposed right of way (Green Sea, Simpson Creek, Bayboro and Conwayborough) to issue bonds to finance it. Landowners hoped that the value of their acres would increase and that they would profit from the sale of timber rights and from better access to markets for their produce. As the tracks of the Wilmington, Chadbourn and Conway Railroad moved south, the trains caused consternation among the people and the livestock unaccustomed to their size and sounds.

James Gould Patterson owned land in northern Horry County along the Todd's Ferry Road. When the Chadbourn Lumber Company was building a railroad to Conway, Patterson, a canny Scot, struck a bargain with the Chadbourn brothers. On December 7, 1887, he sold them land west of the right-of-way for a depot. The sale price was $1.00 and the five sided lot measured 175'x 900'x 225' x 900' x 50' (Horry County Deed Book LL, p.114). The tracks had probably been laid through the area in early to mid-1887 because the first train ran into Conway on December 15, 1887.

The name of the town of Loris is said to have originated with the Chadbourns, though members of that family have offered different versions of how it came about. Since both stories originate from the same source and from the same period, it is impossible to know the truth of either. Loris will probably always have to live with the uncertainty of whether it was named for a novel or for a canine pet. For whatever consolation it may be, the name is at least unique among place names in the United States.

James G. Patterson was the grandson of Dr. Daniel Patterson, a University of Edinburgh professor who had emigrated to the Cape Fear region of North Carolina. The Pattersons were among a number of families who gradually migrated south into the Waccamaw River area. Among them were McMillans, Reaveses, Buchans, Blues, Smiths, Holmeses,Boyds and Todds.

Patterson (1816-1891) was the son of John and Elizabeth Smith Patterson and was married to Martha Marlow. Their log house stood just in front of the Loris Presbyterian Church. Both are buried in Patterson Cemetery, which the family later deeded to the Town of Loris. Many descendants of the Pattersons live in the Loris area still. Some moved along with the naval stores industry to Georgia, but maintain ties with their Horry relatives.

The deed book at the courthouse in Conway shows that Patterson sold a number of lots to merchants and others who wanted to locate nearby. Almost immediately it became known as the Town of Loris. James G. Patterson was the first postmaster.

Until recent years Main Street was named Patterson Street in honor of the founder. Now his name remains only in connection with the town cemetery, which was his family burial ground.

By 1890 the community at the intersection of Todd's Ferry Road and the Wilmington, Chadbourn and Conway Railroad had grown to four stores operated by Y.P. McQueen, Pat- terson & Toon, B.R. King and Boss Holt.

When Loris was incorporated with a one mile radius on July 26, 1902, the intendant (mayor) was D J. Butler and the wardens (councilmen) were D. O. Boyd, J. C. Bryant and H.H. Burroughs.

There were little settlements in every direction around Loris which had grown up around mills, gins, or turpentine stills. Generally there would be a small general merchandise store which was frequently a commissary supplied by one of the larger turpentine firms. Daisy, Bayboro, Green Sea were among those which held as much promise as Loris in early days. Bayboro, for example, was on the railroad at that time and had five stores in 1899; Gurley, also on the railroad, had four stores, two turpentine stills, two churches and a schoolhouse in 1900. In 1901 Daisy had three stores, a post office, a cotton gin, grits and saw mills. Its newspaper corresponent bragged it had tri-weekly mail and telephone lines.

As early as 1900 there was a Loris High School, the first principal being Hugh R. Todd, who later became the president of Draughan's Business Schools located in Columbia and elsewhere. School opened in July! In 1908 Loris and two nearby school districts voted by a margin of 3-1 to build a high school.

Meantime tobacco began to replace turpentine as a source of income. The first $1500.75 for a warehouse was raised at a picnic given for potential subscribers in August, 1902 and the contract was let in February, 1903. The Loris Tobacco Warehouse Co., Inc. officers were J.C. Bryant, president, P.C. Prince, vice president, Dan W. Hardwick, secretary-treasurer. The other stockholders were Doc D. Harrelson, Y.P. McQueen, D.A. Spivey, Jim King, N.E. Hardwick, Sims Harrelson and others. Two Virginia men, John T. Edwards and Walter Tyree, were brought in to run it because local people lacked the necessary experience. The first year a million pounds of tobacco sold for an average of less than six cents.

Later P.R. Casey (for whom Casey Street is named) became the manager and bought out the local stockholders. He renamed it Casey's Warehouse and ran it several years before selling to other Virginians, Wilson and Wright. Local businessmen formed a corporation and built the second warehouse about 1906 and by 1909 there were two in operation, the Loris and the Standard.

The Loris warehouse burned. Local men again formed a corporation and built the Brick Warehouse. For a time a cooperative operated it and then it was sold to King and George Walden. While it was being used to store and cure sweet potatoes, it also burned.

The fourth house was built by a group of farmers headed by E.L. Sanderson and D.W. Ross and was known as the Farmers Warehouse. The farmer owners sold it to the Farmers Bank which in turn sold it to a cooperative. When it failed, Cliff H. Hardwick bought it at auction and operated it for a time until it was bought by C. P. Brewer, J. Paul Bishop and Harry Eddleman. Later Lloyd B. and Roscoe Bell owned and operated it until it was demolished.

The second Loris Warehouse was owned by Cliff H. Hardwick and others and was the fifth to be built. It burned in 1947. The sixth was also built by a group headed by Cliff Hardwick, named the New Deal, and was sold to Harry C. Lewis. The seventh warehouse and the second to be called the Brick Warehouse was owned by Hardwick and King Walden. The eighth and ninth were owned and operated by H.C. Lewis and Lloyd B. Bell.

The Bank of Loris was established in 1907 and occupied the first brick building in town, located at the main intersection. Founded by Thos. Cooper of Mullins, its local officers were J.C. Bryant, E.L. Sanderson, W.A. Johnson, J.C. Prince, D.W. Hardwick and J. D. Graham.

In January 1909 a writer in the Hony Herald wrote:
One visiting Loris now cannot help but note the difference in the busy little town -- what it once was and what is is to-day and what she is to be in the future. Loris is one of the best cotton markets in the county and the largest tobacco market in this section of the State, having sold near one and one half million pounds the past season.

Later the same year the Herald noted that Loris was also making strides in government and was revising and adding to its ordinances. The Town Council consisted of J.D. Bryant, intendant, D.J. Butler, A.F. Cannon, E.L. Sanderson and Dan W. Hardwick, wardens. The Bank had deposits of "nearly" $10,000". The Conway Telephone installed a complete telephone system in Loris, connecting it to Conway and the outside world.

Loris had the telegraph from the beginning, for everywhere the railroad went, so did the wires. Every depot had an expert telegrapher. In 1911 a new depot had to be built to accommodate the increased shipping received and sent from the area.

In the early years Loris suffered many disastrous fires. In 1911 the P.C. Prince Co. and the J. C. Bryant Co. burned. In 1914 the home of Y. P. McQueen was destroyed and the family was temporarily housed in the Masonic Temple. In January, 1915, a number of buildings were destroyed by fire, including a meat market operated by D.N. Stanley, and buildings owned by O.C. Cox and H.L. Singleton. As the old wooden business buildings burned, they were replaced by brick structures.

While W J. Hughes was mayor, the Horry Herald (Feb. 27, 1913) reported:
Modern offices are just being completed at Loris by the Loris Supply Company, in the second story of their store building, these offices being the first to be offered for rent in the town. One of the largest of the lot is occupied by the Loris Telephone Co., which was recently purchased by O.E. Todd and his brother. The offices are lighted with ascetelane and in every way are convenient and well appointed. This enterprising firm started business at Loris several years ago, and has been successful from the first under the careful and efficient management of Mr. O.E. Todd.

By 1914 Loris was being called the Gate City, which probably referred to its being the first town on the railroad south of the North Carolina line. It had a newspaper, the Loris News, which unfortunately failed to make the grade financially. Its presses were shipped back to the firm from which they were purchased.

Loris and the surrounding area had had a number of medical men who practiced for a while and left, among them Pickett K. Bethea (about 1890), Sam Mace (from about 1895-1901), H.H. Burrough (1900- ?), D.O. Dubose, P.P. Chambers, ____Robinson, Charles Rhett Taber (1902- ? ), and H.T. Kirby (about 1980- ?). Dr. Huger Richardson arrived in April, 1912, and Dr. J.D. Thomas in 1915.

Somewhere along the line the Loris High School had ceased to be. In 1915 the County Superintendent of Schools, S.H. Brown, visited the town and found it thriving. "There is not a high school between Conway and Chadbourn," he wrote, "and Loris is a logical place to develop one. Besides, a strong high school at Loris ought to draw support from the communities on each side of the railroad."

Thriving it was. Loris took a full page in the Horry Herald of August 19, 1915, to advertise its businesses and institutions. This may have been the first cooperative effort of the new Board of Trade. Besides the Loris Methodist and Baptist Churches, the Loris Grade and High School, and Drs. Richardson and Thomas they were:

A.W. Hodges and Sons Stables Standard Warehouse (Franklin & Wright)
J. E. Prince Loris Hardware and Furniture Company
Peoples Store (David Scheer) Gate City Cash Store
D.N. Holt Barnes & Brunson(incl. soda fountain)
J.C. Bryant Co., Inc. (est. 1884) Bank of Loris
W.J. Hughes J.T. Alford (blacksmith)
O.C. Cox C.M. Reaves
S.D. Jenrett G.T. lkner
Brunson Company Prince Hotel
C.D. Harrelson & Co. Cannon-Hickman Co.
S.M. McNabb Geo. C. Butler
Canady, the Barber Loris Warehouse (P.R. Casey)
Loris Drug Company  

Directory of Town Officers:
  • Y.P. McQueen, Intendant
  • W.A. Prince, Postmaster
  • A.D. Cannon, Railroad Agent
    and Telegraph Operator
  • O.E. Todd, Clerk
  • J.E. Prince, Trial Justice
  • As more and more men from the area went to fight in the first World War, the people of Loris were active in homefront activities. Toward the end in 1918 a War Savings Stamp rally in Loris drew a crowd "estimated at not less than 2,000", truly remarkable considering the population and the state of communications in that time. Both local doctors volunteered for the Volunteer Medical Corps of South Carolina to deal with the influenza epidemic. A local board decided that Dr. Thomas should go and Dr. Richardson should stay to look after the home folks. When the war was over, Loris celebrated with a general street parade. The newspaper correspondent reported that the citizens, teachers and about 100 school children marched it it.

    Church bells were rung, guns were fired, and every boy had his horn, trumpet, bugle, or some old tin pan. Cow bells were swung on long poles and carried through the streets by the boys. The Kaiser was put into an oil barrel with a pound of powder and was blown high into the air. Parts of the barrel came back, but the Kaiser decided not to return this way." (Horry Herald, Nov. 14, 1918)

    On February 3, 1919 Dan W. Hardwick, Chas. D. Prince, A.J. Mishoe, and O.E. Hickman secured a charter for a new bank and opened the books for subscription. The Farmers Bank opened for business June 2, 1919.

    Loris has always had its share of people interested in public office. In the early years of this century men like Doc D. Harrelson, William Armagy Prince, Montgomery J. Bullock, W. K. Holt, John L. Boyd, John Holt and M. M. Stanley served in county and state offices. Others over the years have been Cornelius J. Prince, John Pickens Derham, John Robert Carter, Sr., Edgar McGougan Derham, Walter Porter Gore, Clifford Hugh Hardwick, Forrest Brooks Whittington, Lloyd Berkley Bell, John Robert Carter, Jr., Winston Wallace Vaught, John Wilson Jenrette, Jr., James Paul Blanton, Charles Edward Hodges, and James Price Stevens, state senator for twenty years, 1955-1976.

    In the twenties and thirties Loris continued slow growth. Local people, fed up with what they considered the greed of Conway politicians who grabbed for the county seat every goodie which political favor could secure, decided that northern Horry need to be a separate county with Loris as its county seat.

    Jefferson M. Long, a lawyer, William A. Prince, who was a member of the House of Representatives, Dan W. Hardwick, D.O. Heniford and others recruited a young newspaperman, Burroughs H. Prince, and started a newspaper called The Loris Observer to give a voice to the new county movement.

    Buck Prince was a native and had journalism training and experience, but was then working in Loris for the Imperial Tobacco Co. He became reporter and editor and Jeff Long acted as publisher and general manager of The Loris Observer.

    The New County group fielded a slate of candidates in the next election: William A. Prince for State Senate and Long for the House of Representatives. They were soundly defeated and the new county movement and the paper died.

    About 1920 the local high school was accredited by the state and finally added the eleventh grade. Joseph Graham and Milton Hughes, class of 1923, were the first to receive state diplomas. In 1921 M. J. Bullock was named superintendent and his wife, Agnes Richardson Bullock, principal of Loris schools. They set about persuading the people to vote a bond issue for construction. In spite of some opposition the new two story brick building was ready for students in January, 1923. One account said, "It was during a freezing spell and as the carpenters would finish a room a class would move in." When a new building was completed in 1931 to house the high school, this one continued as the grammar school.

    Home Economics and vocational agriculture were begun about 1924. R.E. Naugher from Mississippi came to Loris to be the first vocational agriculture teacher. A remarkable man who is remembered with great affection, Naugher began the slow process of helping farmers improve their business and the quality of their lives. He has been followed by others, J.H. Yon and S.F. Horton among them, who came to Loris to teach and stayed to become part of the business community, helping to develop the area economically.

    By the mid-thirties Loris had a thousand residents. Jennings W. Hardwick, mayor, bragged that 50% of South Carolina's tobacco crop was grown in a 25 mile radius of his town. Its four warehouses sold six million pounds a year. Strawberries, beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce and poultry were being grown for northern markets. Hardwick was making a pitch on a Charleston radio station for canneries and manufacturing plants, and named good labor, an up-to-date water system, good hunting and State Highway 9 as inducements. The mayor pointed out the extensive lumber and veneer industry which had been built up and said that there was ample raw material for furniture plants. Finally Hardwick promised that one hundred paid members of the Loris Boosters Club, organize in 1936, would stand ready to assist prospects. He concluded on a ringing note: "For those who seek recreation, we bid you welcome; to those who have no home, we bid you cast your lot with us; and to those who have good homes but desire better ones, we bid you to come and be a part of our community."

    Mayor Hardwick mentioned among the amenities of the town the new gymnasium then under construction with federal funds and the state ranked athletic teams fielded by the local high school. The wooden gym, named for M.J. Bullock, was one of several projects of the Works Progress Administration. Another was the first public library service in the county, which was supervised by Mrs. Sophie Blanton of Green Sea.

    The Depression era is remembered for the closing of the bank and Hoover carts and the establishment of a community cannery. Nobody had much money, but most people lived well despite that. They grew their own food, wore their clothes to rags, and swapped produce for what they needed. Many a local student went to colleges which accepted produce in lieu of tuition.

    Loris' first civic club was the Civitans, organized in 1938 by Eldred E. Prince with the assistance of Robert H. Burns, a Wake Forest classmate and member of the Whiteville Civitan Club.

    In 1940 young men began to sign up for the draft again and in 1941 World War II was upon us. There were air wardens and aircraft spotters, ration books and shortages, rumors of spies, and lots of people who went to Wilmington and Charleston to work in defense related plants, particularly the shipyards.

    Despite the wartime commitment of the people of this area, and it was strong and deep, despite the shortages and the rationing, Loris continued to grow. The leadership of the town continued to try to improve the local economy.

    In 1946 Needham Causey, Sam Hickman and B.T. Ragan, Sr., organized Loris Wood Products, the first real industry to locate here. The plant employed nine people the first year and produced furniture such as chests of drawers.

    Planning was going forward for the establishment of a hospital in Loris. The Civitan Club which included most of the town leadership undertook sponsorship of the movement and canvassed the townships which would be the primary service area. Enough signatures were acquired to persuade the Legislative Delegation to establish a special tax district and the Loris Community Hospital became a reality. The members of the first hospital commission were S.F. Horton, C.A. Lupo, E.W. Prince, Sr., Lundy Vaught and Eldred E. Prince, chairman, who served in that capacity for thirty-six years. Loris Community Hospital opened for use on May 15, 1950 and has been in an almost continuous expansion since that time.

    For a long time there had been a Boosters Club which included most of the business leaders of the town. In 1952 the Loris Merchants Association, forerunner of the Loris Chamber of Commerce, was organized. O.D. Freeman became the first president. When it became apparent toward the end of the 1950s that there needed to be an intensive effort to induce industries to locate in this area, a group consisting of George M. Lay, Eldred E. Prince, president, Rod Sparrow, B.K. Stabler and Thomas W. Stanley formed the Loris Industrial Developers, Inc., for the express purpose of providing sites and buildings and negotiating with industrial prospects.

    Local leadership did not ignore the needs of the farming community which has always provided the base of the Loris economy. In 1958 the Legislative Delegation under the leadership of Sen. James P. Stevens created the Farmers Market in Loris and Philip Cronkhite became the first manager. In the 1960s local leadership cooperating with vocational agriculture teachers helped in the organization of the Buck Creek and Todd Creek Watershed Projects which helped improve farming to the east of Loris through drainage.

    The early 1960s were marked by a sharp upturn in the business of the town. There was construction along Main Street. Loris Drug Store, which had been in business for forty years and was now owned by Douglas B. Bailey, built a new and much larger store. Its old quarters became the temporary location of the new Horry County National Bank which opened August 5, 1963. The Civitan Club sold house markers so that Loris was ready for the home delivery of mail which was instituted in the fall of 1963.

    The early 1960s also saw the passing of an era when Dan W. Hardwick died on Nov. 30, 1963. Mr. Hardwick had been one of the earliest and most prominent among Loris leaders through his various business and banking interests.

    In the 1960s and early 1970s Loris reached a level of political dominance in Horry County which it, had never held before, although in 1945 and 1946 J. Robert Carter, W. P. Gore and D.D. Harrelson were the members of the House while Sen. Frank Thompson was in office. James P. Stevens became senator and head of the Legislative Delegation in 1956. House members from the Loris area at various times during his tenure were Lloyd B. Bell, J. Robert Carter, Jr., Winston Wallace Vaught, John W. Jenrette, Jr., James P. Blanton and Charles E. Hodges, giving the Loris area a consistent, strong representation.

    The most significant political development in many decades came about in the mid-1970s with the passage of the Home Rule Act. Actually two Loris representatives had made attempts to change the system earlier. In 1962 Winston W. Vaught introduced a bill which would have provided eleven elected county commissioners instead of the five appointed by the Legislative Delegation. His bill failed passage. In 1968 James Blanton tried again to establish Home Rule with a bill that provided for proportionate election districts. His bill also failed, but the movement had by now become irresistible and there was sufficient sentiment by the mid-1970s to get a bill through both houses of the General Assembly. Senator Stevens played a significant role in developing public acceptance and in helping the voters of Horry County determine which form to select and how many members the County Council should have. The first Councilman from the Loris area was Braxton Watson, who was appointed to a vacancy which occurred on the death of W.G. Sarvis.

    Between 1960 and 1980 the population of the town grew by almost 29%, but in the early eighties Loris experienced a significant economic depression. Industrial plant closings threw hundreds of workers out of jobs. National and international pressures on the tobacco industry have caused doubts about the future of the growers and the market. Still the faith of the people who live and work in the town continues strong.

    In the 1930s the paving of Highway 9 put Loris on the state map by funneling beach traffic through Main Street. When a dual lane by-pass was constructed in 1984-85, traffic to the beaches went around the town. The net result of that will probably not be fully realized for years. At the same time the phenomenal growth which has characterized the Grand Strand has begun to push outward along the Highway 9 corridor toward Loris, accelerated in recent months by plans for extending water and sewer lines along the highway. Loris is set for another period of expansion.

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