In reviewing the Thursday edition of the Morning News, I read the article headlined “DARLINGTON COUNTY: Hudson’s dream of being sheriff comes true.” First, let me congratulate sheriff-elect James Hudson and reaffirm that this letter to the editor in no way is intended to detract from the significance of his election. I am excited about the opportunity to work with him in support of the citizens of Darlington County.
However, as the historian for Darlington County and director of the Darlington County Historical Commission & Museum, I feel obligated to help disseminate accurate history. That is why I offer clarification on a point referenced by your writer that stated “Hudson has the distinction of being the first African-American sheriff in Darlington County. …”
The FIRST African-American sheriff in Darlington County was Thomas C. Cox. Cox, a freeborn native of Charleston, was elected as sheriff of Darlington County in July 1868 and served two consecutive terms, ending in 1876. Cox came to Darlington to teach, and he served as the first teacher of African-American students at Wilson School on the corner of Dargan and Palmetto Streets. He was succeeded by Rev. Joshua E. Wilson.
I feel that I may need to dispel the myth that Cox, being a Reconstruction sheriff, was inherently corrupt. W.A. Brunson of Darlington, the former president of the Pee Dee Historical Society, said in his work, "Reminiscences of Reconstruction in Darlington," that “Cox was not a corrupt man.” On the occasion of the death of Thomas C. Cox, the Darlington News reported that “although an office-holder in the days of fraud and corruption, Cox bore a good reputation, both as to his personal conduct and to his management of the Shrievalty.”
So, officially, James Hudson is not our first African-American sheriff. He is the second to serve our citizens. His distinction is being the first African-American sheriff elected, post-Reconstruction.
I only write this letter in the humblest spirit of historical accuracy. When we state definitive fact in error, we set the public understanding of fact, and dissemination of incorrect history concerns me.
BRIAN E. GANDY
Director, Darlington County Historical Commission & Museum
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