The Area was settled in 1801 as Darlington Courthouse here, hence the name, a Court House was to be built for the county of Darlington. On March 19, 1806, that original Court House was burned to the ground by an old woman trying to destroy court records . She was to appear in Court that week.
On December 19, 1835, the Town of Darlington was incorporated for the purposes of the establishment of rules, bylaws, and ordinances respecting streets,ways, market, and police of town . . . to set fines ( not exceeding fifty dollars ) for offenses. The first enforcement officers were known as the Town Marshall . The title was not changed until December 22, 1891, when the Charter was amended to read “Chief of Police”.
Many of the early records were destroyed in various fires. Some interesting events can still be found in newspaper clippings from the period.
- June 1875 – A public double hanging in front of Darlington Court House. All later hangings were done in private because of the public outcry over the spectacle, until the State took over executions.
- October 2, 1890 – A man from the country became very obstreperous on the Square on Monday afternoon, an overdose of corn liquor being the apparent cause of his trouble, and it took two custodians of the peace to hold him down. A friend of his drove out of town a few moments afterwards, whipping his mule in great fashion, and hurling defiance at the police. He too was promptly captured, however, by Policeman Dargan, after an exciting chase, and “brought to taw” . By these little incidents the coffers of the town were nicely replenished on Tuesday morning.
- April 1, 1894 – Darlington Riots broke out after Governor “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman’s spies (liquor constables) spent several days searches local houses for stills. A fight at the train station lead to a shooting in which three people were killed and several injured, including Chief A.E. Dargan. The Darlington Guard (Militia) was called out to restore the peace. A train caring Militia from a nearby town was nearly blown up as it approached town. It was only saved by the quick thinking engineer who sped trough the crossing before the dynamite could be lit. The troops were permitted to disembark safely when they shouted “We’re for ya” from the Train as it passed.
- December 4, 1919 – “Old Bob” died on Tuesday, December 2nd. Doubtless, many of the older residents remember the sound of his hoof-beats as he went around town day and night, or remember his familiar form standing, carefully blanketed in cold weather, in front of the City Hall. Any mention of “Old Bob” will stir memories in the hearts of many as they recall his gallant rider and master, Chief Dargan, better known, perhaps, and always loved, as “Rab”, the strong, the tender, and the true.
- November 9, 1922 – Mayor McLeod, City Council, and Chief Weatherford had a conference recently on the subject of allowing something of a holiday to the very faithful officers of the force. It was unanimously decided to arrange for one officer to have a Sunday for freedom from duty on recurring alternate occasions, with the understanding that the officer thus relieved would attend church services, both morning and evening. This is good work, from any aspect of the case, and while it gives physical rest and spiritual stimulus to the officer, it may also afford outsiders opportunity to catch a glimpse of the exacting and ceaseless duties of this faithful body of men who take such good care of the peace and good order of their town.
- November 18, 1944 – Chief E.R. McIver and Sheriff C.A. Grinnel of this City have arranged a conference with the FBI at 2 o’clock Monday. Special Agents Noel B. Wright and O.N. Helmes will make presentations for officers at the County Court House. Special Agent P.V. Richardson will present an outdoor demonstration at the nearby rifle range in Mechanicsville, near Cashua Ferry.
- September 16, 1948 – It was officially announced that the City Council is contemplating the installing of radios in all police cars in this community.
- Labor Day, September, 1950 – The first SOUTHERN 500 is held at the new Darlington Raceway, the first paved super speed way of it’s type for stock cars.
The following is a list of the known executives of the Police Department.
- 1868 – 1870 C.O. Libby, Town Marshall
- 1870 – UNK Wiley J. Floyd, Town Marshall
- 1888 – 1908 Alphonse Emile Dargan, First “Chief of Police”
- 1908 – 1911 Leland Archibald Langston
- 1912 – 1914 E.N. Austen
- 1914 S.W. Hutchinson
- 1914 – 1919 W.H. Mozingo
- 1919 – 1928 W.F. Weatherford
- 1928 – 1938 S.L. Martin ( 1st and only Motorcycle Officer)
- 1938 – 1948 Evander R. McIver (former Chief of Florence,SC)
- 1948 – 1968 J. Peele Privette
- 1968 – 1972 A.M. Cook
- 1972 – 1981 N.G. Dudley
- 1981 – 1995 Roy F. Williams Jr.
- 1995 – Jerry A. Cox Jr.
The man with his arm in the sling is Roy F. Williams Sr., whose son, Roy F. Williams Jr., became Chief in 1981.
Special Thanks to Mr. Horace Rudisill, County Historian and to the Darlington County Historical Society and Museum for all the help in collecting this information and the photograghs. The Museum is located at 104 Hewitt Street in downtown Darlington and is operated daily. (843-398-4710)