Williston, South Carolina is located in Barnwell County along the former rail bed of the Charleston to Hamburg /Southern railroad on U.S. Highway 78.
It is easily accessible from Aiken, South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia, and the state capitol at Columbia. It is less than a two hour’s drive from the site where the very first English settlers arrived at Charles Towne (now Charleston) in 1670.
It is regrettable that the history of Williston has not been fully recorded, but death and the intervening years make compiling this history difficult.
The events that are related here are told solely for the pleasure of the reader in the hope that retelling them may stir memories of the past and encourage others to seek knowledge in what makes Williston a ‘Great Town’.
It has been said that history should not be written until one hundred years have elapsed, but facts and circumstances should be preserved so that history may be presented as accurately as possible.
In 1670, this area was probably an Indian village. It is thought that Hernando de Soto journeyed just North West of this area on his trek from Savannah to the Mississippi River (1539-1540).
In February, 1865, General Sherman ordered Union troops, under the command of Brevet Major-General J. Kilpatrick and General Slocum from Blackville through Williston. Their mission was to destroy the railroad tracks along the way. Piles of rails were burned ‘Red-Hot’ then twisted around trees forming irreparable ‘Bow-Knots’.
Much of the history of Williston has been destroyed by fire on four or more separate occasions. The whole truth is reserved to God alone and to those resting in their graves. It is hoped that this narrative will be a token of gratitude to those whom have gone before us. Ones who toiled, struggled, fought, and fathered generations in order to make the future one to celebrate. Let us be thankful that we live under a President, instead of a King; a Governor rather than a Lord Proprietor; and with the Palmetto Tree and Old Glory as our symbols of Fortitude and Freedom.