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Connections between Thomas X Roads and Camden

Posted: February 7, 2018 2:05 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.

A copy of a bill head from the office of Dr. J. Ervin McLure, which was located at Thomas X Roads.

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If you journey north out of Camden on Stagecoach Road, you pass Goodale State Park. About 10 miles farther, you will cross a road that leads to Cassatt three miles away on U.S. 1. Next, you will traverse the Sandy Grove Community. Five miles farther, you cross the Bethune-Bishopville Highway at the Tiller’s Ferry Community. A mile farther north, your journey takes you across Lynches River into Darlington County.

Continuing on this road five miles north, you come to the intersection of the McBee and Hartsville highways. In the 1850s, this crossroads bore the name, Thomas X Roads and a post office was established there in 1856 by that name. A prominent local land owner, Micajah Thomas (1788-1875) had a large plantation there and his son, David Hamilton Thomas, was the postmaster from 1856-60. A pre-Civil War envelope from Thomas X Roads post office accompanies this column.

What does Thomas X Roads have to do with Camden and Kershaw County? By going back into history about a century and a half, this column will reveal some answers to that question.

Thomas X Roads post office reopened after the Civil War and was operated 1866-68 by David F. McKelvin. A receipt in the Thomas Family Papers at the South Caroliniana Library suggests he took over as postmaster of Thomas X Roads on Nov. 29, 1860, and operated it during the Civil War.

Maps of the period do not show a road going west from Thomas X Roads to present day McBee, a town that came into existence in 1900. Stagecoach Road continues north to Society Hill. At Thomas X Roads, Darlington Road branches east and four miles along this road a branch leads north to Hartsville and on to Society Hill.

A statement or bill head from the office of Dr. J. Ervin McLure indicates he had an office at Thomas X Roads in the 1880s. A copy of his bill head accompanies this column. This bill head includes the name Clyde, S.C. In 1880, a post office name Clyde had been opened about a mile back toward Camden from the crossroads on Stagecoach Road. The Clyde Post Office closed in 1905 and mail from the community then went to McBee for delivery. There is a pond where a former grist mill operated and an old store building at the Clyde site today.

The Thomas X Roads Community was blessed with the Gum Branch Baptist Church that existed 1796-1976. Micajah Thomas and his son, David, were active members of that church for many decades.      

Family connections

Macajah Thomas married Prudence, the daughter of Wiley Kelly, who lived in Kershaw County on the Kelly Bridge Road. This means David Hamilton Thomas was a nephew of Wiley.

David H. Thomas married Nancy Amanda Shields on February 25, 1852. She was a member of the Flat Rock Baptist Church in Kershaw County. She died on July 15, 1861, predeceasing her husband by 36 years.

On March 15, 1866, David H. Thomas married Jane Reaves of Darlington County. The Reaves Family (sometimes spelled Reeves) also had relatives living in Kershaw County. One connection they had was with the McClure Family, who also had relatives in both counties. McLures lived in the Flat Rock community and Dr. McClure from Darlington County owned Big Springs in Kershaw County.

Emma Jane Thomas, a daughter of David H. Thomas and Jane Reaves, married David Malcolm Bethune on September 6, 1897. His mother was the former Esther Catherine McCaskill. The Bethune Family gave their name to the new town of Bethune, created in 1900 and located on the Seaboard Railroad. The nearby post office of Lynchwood was moved to the new town that year. 

Other families with close connections to the Thomas Family were the Beasleys of Darlington County and the McDowells of Kershaw County. Numerous descendants of the Thomas, Kelly, Reaves, McClures, McCaskill, McDowell, Beasley and Bethune families are spread in and out of state.

Financial and economic connections

The Thomas Family of Thomas X Roads had many financial and economic ties to Camden and Kershaw County. Money and goods exchanged hands with Wiley Kelly on Kelly Bridge Road. One large financial transaction took place with the Blairs at Red Oak Camp at Lynchwood. Families on both sides of Lynches River did business with the Thomas Family.

The Thomas Family papers at the South Caroliniana Library are full of transactions with the bank of Camden in 1850-70. Later, more of their banking moved to Hartsville and Darlington.

Many merchants in Camden, such as G.S. Douglas and W.J. Gerald, sold various kinds of goods to the Thomas Family. Advertisements from three different drugstores in Camden are in the Thomas Family Papers at the South Caroliniana Library. Some of the Thomas cotton was sold through a merchant in Camden to a factory in Charleston. The Thomas Family also shipped cotton to Charleston over the Cheraw and Darlington Railroad through Florence and over the North Eastern Railroad on to Charleston.

The Thomas Family papers demonstrate that Camden and Kershaw County, 1850-1930, continued to have an economic impact well beyond their geographical borders. This has been the case with Camden since colonial times.

These papers are being processed by staff at the library and will be available for researchers to use in a few months. They contain much information for the serious historian as well as the public at large.



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