Progress: Town of Turbeville

by | May 31, 2014 8:18 pm

Last Updated: May 31, 2014 at 9:24 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: The late Cindy Thigpen wrote this history shortly before her death in 2013, and presented it to The Manning Times for use in this publication. It is reprinted here, edited only for style and grammar.


turbevilleLocated at the intersection of U.S. 301 and 378, the town of Turbeville lies in the northeast corner of Clarendon County. Clarendon County was named after the first Earl of Clarendon, Earl Hyde. He was one of the eight Lord Proprietors of the Province of Carolina, and a cousin to King Charles III.

Clarendon County was established in 1855, formed out of the Old Sumter District. The county had the same boundaries as the Old Clarendon District of 1785, being one of the seven judicial districts of South Carolina at the time. The final county lines for Clarendon County were established in 1921, after Pinewood became part of Sumter County.

Clarendon County is considered as the line between the up and low countries. The county is bordered on the south by the Santee River and on the north by Black River. It is situated in a section known as the Upper Pine Belt, and has a large concentration of natural bays. Clarendon County in the earlier years was known as the “back country,” rich in natural resources; food resources of game, fish and fowl; and waterways for traveling and moving supplies.

It was an area that would be settled and populated by many Scotch-Irish families.

Michael Turbeville moved to the Dials Bay area sometime between 1840-50. His home was located north of the present town of Turbeville. Other landowners living in close proximity were Malone Green, Nelson Gamble, Goodman Gamble and Sam Smith.

By 1880, William J. Turbeville, a son of Michael Turbeville, purchased a tract of land from John McFaddin of Sardinia, a large landowner. William built the first home in what is now known as the present town of Turbeville. Samuel Clem Turbeville, brother to William, purchased land located next to his brother, and there he also built his home.

In the 1880 Federal Census, not only were the Turbevilles living in the area, but there were many families whose descendants are still located in the community. Some of these families are the Beard, Coker, Dennis Floyd, Gamble, Green, Lavender, McElveen, Morris, Player, Robinson, Smith and Welch families, just to name a few.

Before a federal post office was established in Turbeville, with the actual town name, the community – which encompassed more than the present town limits – was referred to by various names. Earlier newspaper articles referred to the area by various names, such as Douglas, Pine Grove and Seloc. Douglas was the township name used on the federal census records and on voting records. Pine Grove was the name of the Methodist Episcopal church; and Seloc was a community one mile east of the present town.

Many newspaper articles also referred to the area as “Puddin’ Swamp,” an area located west of the present town limits. Til this day, many of the local residents still refer to the area as “Puddin’ Swamp.”

William and Samuel Turbeville’s newly acquired property was covered with the long-leaf yellow pines so they constructed a still for the distilling of the sap for turpentine. The still functioned for about 20 years until the trees were bled out. Afterward, they uilt a sawmill and harvested the trees into lumber.

Most of the lumber was used for local consumption as the surrounding area was growing into a viable town. But they also relied on the new Alcolu Railroad to transport their lumber.

Not only did the Turbeville brothers operate a turpentine still and saw mill, they also operated a grist mill. Samuel Clem Turbeville opened a mercantile business that provided merchandise to the local community. E.L. Green built a drug store, and other businesses took root and the town prospered.

In 1912, town lots were laid out and sold. The town was finally chartered on Aug. 18, 1914, with Dr. C.E. Gamble as mayor. W.J. Turbeville, J.F. Turbeville, Alonzo Smith and H. Stacey Green were selected as councilmen. W.H. Smith was selected as clerk and treasurer.

They were sworn in for their new duties by notary David M. Turbeville. The mayor and councilmen used the laws and ordinances from Olanta as a guide to construct the laws and ordinances to be adopted by Turbeville.

An advertisement for a policeman was placed in The State newspaper. E.W. Kennedy from Turbeville was hired for the position, but G.S. Merchant was hired shortly afterward to replace him. Some of the other town mayors were J.F. Turbeville, Daniel E. Turbeville, Morgan J. Morris, G. Ray Coker, George H. Wingard and D.H. Atkinson. The current mayor if Dwayne Howell, and before him, Virginia Turbeville was mayor.

With the exception of the Depression years, Turbeville has thrived in spite of two fires, on in 1938 and another in 1970. Today Turbeville’s population has increased to 720 people with 321 housing units. Over the years volunteerism has provided the town and community with fire and rescue departments.

Turbeville in the 21st Century has been characterized as “small town with a big heart.” The Town of Turbeville is a progressive and energetic town with the goal to provide its citizens with the best services a town can provide and families with the best environment in which to raise a family. Turbeville is a town that celebrates a rich history, yet keeps an eye to the future.

The Town’s leadership has set goals that will make the livability and quality of life in Turbeville the best in the state. Residents and officials work diligently to keep the town the best place in the country to work, live, and play.

comments » 1

  1. Comment by Peter Groen

    June 1, 2014 at 07:51

    Great article about the history of Turbeville. I’ve been collecting history links and info about Clarendon county and posting it on This will make a good addition to the site. So much rich history about the county to be shared.

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