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Conway Chamber of Commerce

In 1670, the British settled Charles Town (Charleston) and this area, Horry (O-ree).  They were considered part of Craven County.  Robert Johnson, Royal Governor, included Kingston Township in a plan to develop the Province in 1730.  In 1732, the site of Kingston (Conway) was laid out.  In 1734, a plan for the town of Kingston was completed and by 1735 the first settlers had arrived. Many area residents fought in the American Revolution and small engagements were fought near Kingston at Bear Bluff and at Black Lake.  Francis Marion, who was known as the Swamp Fox, had an encampment near Kingston beside the Waccamaw River.

Kingston was a part of the Parish of Prince George, Winyah, established in 1722, as long as that Parish was a political subdivision.  In 1769 the colony was divided into circuit court districts and what is now Horry County was a part of the newly created Georgetown district.  In 1785 new lines were drawn and Kingston County was created.  The county’s name was changed to Horry in honor of General Peter Horry in 1801 and a court house was established in Kingston at that time.  Kingston’s name was later changed to Conawayborough for General Robert Conway.  The village of Conwayborough was slow to grow.  Methodist bishop Francis Asbury recorded in 1801 that the town had a population of about 100.  Thomas Lockwood’s geography of the state published in 1832 reported that the number of inhabitants was 200.

In 1860, Conwayborough had a population of 273 whites and 203 blacks.  The Waccamaw River was the town’s main transportation link.  Much of the land along the Waccamaw was owned by planters who developed plantations both large and small.  Among these were “Snow Hill”, “Sonwood”, Keysfield”, “Upper Mill”, “Oregon”, “Bells Bay”, “The Ark”, “Longwood”, and “Woodbourne” in Horry County.  Throughout the rest of the county were small farms and plantations.  The important industries in the area at the time were turpentine and lumber.  When South Carolina seceded from the Union, area residents rallied to the Cause.  Thomas W. Beaty and Benjamin E. Sessions of Conwayborough signed the Ordinance of Secession in Charleston.  Near the end of the war the town was occupied for a time by Union Soldiers.

During the 1870’s the lumber and naval store industries continued to expand.  Riverboats transported passengers and goods along the Waccamaw River between Conwayborough and Georgetown.  The South Carolina General Assembly shortened the town’s name to Conway in 1883.  In 1887, the railroad reached Conway and in 1898 the town elected its first mayor.  Much of the present downtown was built in the early 1900’s.  About the same time, Conway residents built the first cottages at present day Myrtle Beach and at first called their summer retreat “New Town”.

In recent years Conway has experienced rapid growth.  The city’s population is about 15,000.  Much of Conway’s past has been proudly preserved.  The ancient oak trees and the beautiful Waccamaw River provide the perfect setting for South Carolina’s Historic Rivertown.

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