What's your sign? A walking/driving tour of Georgetown's historical markers

Story by Lois Carol Wheatley

South Carolina historical markers are unlike those found in most other states. With no official restrictions on length or size, some of them are unbelievably long-winded. Traveling at 55 mph you might catch the three-or-four word headline and register the fact that many words followed, But in Georgetown, just a few miles down the coast from Myrtle Beach, the markers are so numerous and detailed that you'll likely do something as drastic as parking and getting out of the car.

Another distinctive feature is that any group with the will and the wherewithal can put up a marker. No central governmental authority controls the big picture, as is the case in North Carolina. Typical contributors to the South Carolina roadside landscape are Atlantic Coastal Highway Commission (ACH), Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and South Carolina Historical Commission (SCHM).

What this means, of course, is that you can erect a historical monument to yourself. For inspiration Georgetown is the place to go, where history is broadcasted from every street corner, and where numerous - and oftentimes very detailed -- markers are located, many of them along a scenic riverfront walkway.

Historical Markers

On South Fraser Street in front of the National Guard Armory. "1st Battalion 178th Field Artillery. To our Guardsmen and Families of the 1 BN 178 FA: In appreciation for your sacrifices, bravery and loyalty during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004-2005). From the Citizens of Georgetown County."

At the intersection of Front and King streets: "24-Pound Naval Gun, Circa 1800. Cast by the Hughes Foundry near Havre de Grace Maryland about 1800. The Defense Act of 1794 authorized 180 similar guns to be manufactured. This gun is one of three known to exist today. Two similar guns are in Savannah, Georgia. This gun is marked with the Federal Eagle, serial number and weight. The gun weighs over 5,000 pounds and is similar to guns that were used on the United States Frigate Constitution "Old Ironsides." Capable of shooting a 24-pound cannon ball about six inches in diameter for about one mile.

"Found on the bank of the Sampit River during excavation for utility improvement behind the Rice Museum-Prevost Gallery in 1991. Its use since 1800 and reason to be in Georgetown are unknown. "Restored and preserved by the South Carolina Department of Archeology and Anthropology with funds provided by the Winyah Indigo Society of Georgetown," and erected in 1999.

At the intersections of Screven and Church streets: "Antipedo Baptist Church. In the plan of Georgetown laid out by 1730, this one-acre lot was reserved for Antipedo Baptists by Elisha Screven. A brick building built before the Revolution for the Baptists, Presbyterians, and independents housed the area Baptists who were constituted 1794. By 1804 its congregation had built 'a handsome and commodious wooden meetinghouse' on this lot, commanding a view of the whole town from the front."

At the same location, "Old Baptist Cemetery. Among the graves here are those of William Cuttino, Sr., treasurer and builder of the Antipedo Baptist Church, and John Waldo, minister and educator. Other early leaders buried here include the Rev. Edmund Botsford, native of England who became minister of this church in 1796; and Savage Smith, president of the church in 1805." Both markers were erected in 1983 by the First Baptist Church.

On Highway 17 South: "Attacks Upon Georgetown. On January 24, 1781, Capts. Carnes and Rudolph, by orders from Gen. Marion and Col. Lee, surprised the British garrison at Georgetown and captured Col. Campbell. Upon Gen. Marion's second approach, June 6, 1891, the British evacuated the town. Gen. Marion seized the stores, demolished the works, and retired." This marker was erected in 1938 by the Georgetown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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