Holliday Farms – Galivants Ferry, South Carolina
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While people may associate Horry County with the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach, the upper half of the county is still primarily rural. The community of Galivant’s Ferry was developed in the late 1860s when J.W. Holliday relocated to land along the Little Pee Dee River after his turpentine business on the Waccamaw River was destroyed during the Civil War. At Galivants Ferry, he opened a farm supply store and became a successful tobacco farmer, developing the flue-curing method of drying tobacco used throughout the region. Today the Pee Dee Farms Company remains a Holliday family business.
While the original Holliday store no longer stands, the Galivants Ferry Convenience Store, owned by Holliday descendants, now greets motorists as they cross the United States Highway 501 bridge. It is the site of the historical Galivants Ferry Stump, a political rally for prominent Democratic candidates from throughout the state that dates to 1876 when General Wade Hampton delivered a speech here that helped him secure the office of governor. In 1880 another rally was held at the same site, and “stumping,” or standing on a tree stump to deliver a speech, at Galivants Ferry became a South Carolina political tradition. The Holliday family continues to host the popular stump rallies at their store. An older store stands next to the modern one with an historical “Esso” sign hanging in front. That store was built around 1922.
Many of the buildings standing near the bridge and store were built in the 1920s and reflect the Holliday family’s agrarian heritage. J.W.’s son, George Holliday, graduated from Harvard University and returned to the state in order to grow his father’s business. He is credited with tobacco cultivation in the early 1900s that sustained the county’s economy when the boll weevil took its toll on cotton crops. The multi-purpose barn, seen above and below, was built around 1928 and symbolizes the Hollidays’ success in farming. It is the largest and most ornate agricultural building in the area.
Animals were kept on the first floor, tobacco was cured on the second floor, and crops were kept on both the second and third floors. A ramp cable strong enough to hold a truck was installed to lift crops from floor to floor. The barn also boasts one-story enclosed sheds on either side; one was used as a stable, the other for equipment. When the highway was being built through Galivants Ferry in the 1970s, the South Carolina Department of Transportation adjusted its path to avoid the barn. The barn was built by Jim Daniels, who constructed many of the agricultural buildings during the 1920s for the Hollidays. The barn is said to possess its original lightning rod system.
Above and below are tenant houses, built in the early 1920s for sharecroppers. The T-shaped house above sits on a concrete foundation near three other tenant houses; originally, around six such houses stood here, and two others still stand nearby. Many families farmed Holliday-owned land, sharing 50 percent of their crops with them. The Hollidays owned – and still own – vast acreage of farmland throughout western Horry County as well as in neighboring counties, and at peak production, between 1,200 and 1,500 people were supported by sharecropping Holliday farms. During the Great Depression the Hollidays paid their employees with certificates known as “scrips” to be used in the Holliday store. The scrips allowed people to stay afloat with necessities during a time when many banks had failed and actual money was scarce.
The barn seen below was built around 1928 and sits on United States Highway 501. It stands at one-and-a-half stories tall and features one-story enclosed shed wings on both sides. It was originally used to store fertilizer and also has a lightning rod. It sits amid the tenant houses, across from the convenience store and adjacent to the multi-purpose barn.
The Hollidays continue to recognize the significance of their rural landscape and have worked with the Florence-based Pee Dee Land Trust to conserve tracts of Holliday land. In 2014 J. William “Billy” Holliday permanently protected 191 acres of farm and forest land around Galivants Ferry. This follows his 2007 protection of 185 acres along the Little Pee Dee River in Marion County followed by an additional 537 acres, also in Marion County. The Little Pee Dee River divides Horry and Marion counties.
The above structures, as well as several others, are listed in the National Register as part of the Galivants Ferry Historic District:
The site of an eighteenth and nineteenth century ferry, Galivants Ferry typifies the type of community that arose from the naval stores and agricultural industries that once dominated this region of the state. The agricultural architecture that remains – tenant farmer houses, storage barns, tobacco packhouses, curing barns, and sheds – reveal the agricultural heritage of Galivants Ferry and of the larger Pee Dee region. There are twenty-eight contributing historic buildings in the district. Thirteen buildings are directly related to agricultural uses. Eight structures are concentrated immediately next to the US Hwy 501 bridge. The others are scattered in the surrounding fields. Eleven to twelve buildings were houses for tenant families and farm supervisors; one house is the home of the Holliday family. A church sits at the edge of a long stretch of tobacco fields on Pee Dee Road. There are eight noncontributing buildings in the district.
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Reflections on the Holliday Farm
Brandon Coffey shares: “My great-uncle, who married my granddad’s sister, told me that his mom was very down and out, as many families were, in the 1930s Horry County. She got a loan from Mr. Holliday for $2,500, which he granted, but he had the stipulation that she gave 50 percent of her crop (she was a sharecropper) in order for him to grant the loan. When she died many years later there was one lien against her property, and it was his… for $2,500. The tenant farming buildings and barn were all a portion of his farm.”
Holliday Farms Info
Address: United States Highway 501, Galivants Ferry, SC 29544
GPS Coordinates: 34.055575,-79.245358
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