Galivants Ferry

A historic look at Galivants Ferry brought to you by the Historic Preservation Commission

Historic Galivants Ferry

The Galivants Ferry Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historical Places as it represents a significant site in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Galivants Ferry was first mentioned in the South Carolina Statues at Large in 1792 at a place then called Elirsee's Landing. The ferry crossing was vested with Richard Gallevan for an initial period of fourteen years and the permitted fees were stated in British pounds sterling. At that time, the county name was Kingston County and the county seat was Conwayboro. The ferry crossing was again mentioned in the 1795 South Carolina Acts relating to Roads, Bridges and Ferries, with the names Elvise's Landing, being vested with Richard Gullivan and the fees paid in U.S. dollars. The road and ferry to Kingston County were the main access point from Marion County, then known as Liberty County, to the county of Kingston, now known as Horry County. As such, the road and ferry were maintained at public expense for the good of all citizens. The first wood plank road through the Pee Dee swamp was built to the ferry in the 1800's. Today one can still see the remains of fertilizer barge in times of low water just upstream of the present highway bridge. It resembles ferry barges from the early 1800's.

Unlike the large plantation-based farms in Marion County, western Horry County was little changed from the early pioneer days. It was an agrarian economy scratched out of a sandy, swampy, landscape. This area of the state was isolated by numerous rivers and swamps, so access was difficult and the inhabitants sometimes referred to the area as the "Independent Republic of Horry".

Joseph William Holliday, orphaned at an early age, inherited a share in the sizeable estate of his father, but his inheritance was quickly squandered by his guardian and he soon found himself working for uncaring relatives as an indentured servant. Despite the unhappy start, Holliday worked hard, gave himself a good education, and grew prosperous. His early experience was the fire that forged his success and an iron resolve from which he was known throughout the states coastal plain.

J.W. Holliday first came to Horry County in the year 1852 having leased 9000 acres of pineland along the Waccamaw River at Pot Bluff for a turpentine operation, which produced naval stores. Naval stores in the 1880's consisted of products from the prolific long leaf pine forest that dominated the area. Sap bled from the trees produces turpentine, pitch and tar, all of which were transported down the Pee Dee River to Georgetown to be used on the hulls of wooden boats to prevent marine worm infestation. In 1865, J.W. Holliday's business was destroyed by war and he moved to Galivants Ferry. In 1869 he opened a store on the banks of the Little Pee Dee River that grew to become the major source of farm supplies in Western Horry County. An innovative farmer, J.W. Holliday perhaps is best remembered for introducing the flue-cured type of tobacco raised in Horry County. Thereafter, he and his descendants at Galivants Ferry have been associated with economic progress and public service in South Carolina.

George J. Holliday, the son of J.W. Holliday and the grandson of Senator R.G.W. Grissette, graduated from Harvard University and returned to S.C. He expanded his father's mercantile business, opening stores in Aynor and Jordanville. While the rest of the state and region suffered the consequences of the boll weevil on the cotton crop, he experimented with tobacco in 1900, expanding its cultivation throughout the area by the 1920's. Horry County soon came to be recognized as the largest tobacco producer in S.C. and George Holliday, the largest tobacco grower in America.

Throughout the Great Depression George Holliday continued to supply a population from which money had all but vanished. To deal with this problem Holliday produced a form of money called "scrip" which the locals could barter form goods at the Holliday stores. Back then, the majority of agriculture output was produced by farmers living on the land with their families and agreeing to "share the crop" with the land owner generally on a 50/50 basis, thus the term "sharecropper". At it's peak, 1200 to 1500 people were supported by the Holliday farms in western Horry County.

In 1876, the now famous, longest running political gathering was held in the Galivants Ferry district featuring General Wade Hampton, former Civil War hero, in his run for governor. Political speakings were referred to as "Stump Speakings". Galivants Ferry recently celebrated 128 years as the longest running Democratic stump speaking in America. During it's heyday in the early 1900's, Galivants Ferry formulated the basis for Horry County's tobacco heritage as well as maintaining The Old Democratic Primary (stump) speakings. George Hollidays' two sons, Joseph and John Monroe, continued the tradition of farming excellence as well as supplying the farm community with necessary products for farming, feeding and clothing families in the area. Today, the fifth generation of Hollidays carry on after the manner of their forebearers, despite the fact that tobacco is vanishing and the "old world" no longer exists.

Because of its unique heritage, Galivants Ferry was recognized by being placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Buildings so designated, include, the church, owner residences, grist (grinding) mill, packhouse, storehouses, tenant (sharecropper) dwellings, and various types of barns including the big red barn.

PDF   Driving Tour Map    JPG   Driving Tour Map
* The homes featured on driving tour maps are privately owned and should be viewed from public sidewalks.
Service Station

Service Station, c.1922

The classic double bay service station porte-cochere design features a front gable roof with continuous return gable end with stone piers, lap siding, and has been rehabilitated with tin signs and antique pumps as a vintage gas station museum. A wide double window opens the view toward the store interior. The station has been moved from its original site.



During the Great Depression, the supply of hard currency became quite scarce. To continue to provide a way to transact business, George j. Holliday devised his own private money, known as "Scrip." The local farmers were paid for their produce and labor with this scrip, which then could be used to buy any manner of goods from the Holliday stores in Galivants Ferry, Aynor, or Jordanville.

Historical Markers

Historical Markers

Galivants Ferry is one of several Historical Districts registered in Horry County. In 2001, this district was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. Two historic markers summarizing the community's transportation, political and architectural significance, dating from 1792, have been placed to commemorate the Galivants Ferry and the Stump Speaking activities. Individual buildings have specific National Register of Historic Places bronze marker medallions from the National Park Service which name the date of construction.

Ferry Landing

Gallivants Ferry Landing

Since the late 1700's Galivants Ferry, named for Ferryman Richard Gallevan, has served as the site of an important ferry crossing for the Little Pee Dee River. In 1792, wagons, four-wheel carriages, carts, livestock, man and horse, and those on foot were charged two shillings to a penny for crossing. An elevated wood plank road was built through the swamp in the 1800's to allow commerce between Marion and Horry County. The first of three wooden bridges was built in the early 1800's. The concrete bridge was built in 1931. Note the original gas station and wooden bridge in the painting.



In 1876 during his gubernatorial campaign, Wade Hampton, the former General and Confederate hero, came to Galivants Ferry for a Democratic Party meeting. The term "Stump Speaking" comes from the practice of political candidates standing on a stump to be seen and heard above a crowd. The Democratic Party continues this traditional Stump Meeting and meets here every two years to eat chicken bog, politic, and enjoy fellowship. Guests and candidates speak from the porch of the store which has replaced the pine stump as a platform. The Library of Congress recognized this as a "Local Legacy" in the year 2000.

Grist Mill

Grist Mill

Powered by mules, two large granite rollers crushed corn, wheat, barley and other grain products to produce flour, meal and grits for the local farm population. The Miller who operated the mill generally kept a portion of the final products as payment for the service. A granite roller is displayed in front of the building.

PeeDee River

Little Pee Dee River

Named after the Pee Dee Indians (originally spelled Peedee), who once roamed its banks, the river originates in North Carolina and flows to the Atlantic Ocean at Georgetown S.C. Much of Horry County was covered with Long Leaf Pine Trees and after the Confederate War the sap from these trees was prized for its use in "Naval Stores". The term derives from the use of the pine sap which was boiled down to make pitch, tar and turpentine, The pitch and tar were used to protect the wooden hulled boats of the day from marine worms and borers and the turpentine was used for medicinal purposes and paint products. In the 1800's this was the major industry of the region. These products were originally transported by barges down the river to Georgetown. The River also served as a major transportation link prior to the advent of roads and bridges in the early 1900's. Later, steamboats carried farm produce as well as naval stores to the waiting ships. The river is made black from the amount of tannin or tannic acid in the water, a by-product of plant decay, mainly cypress trees.

Tenant House

Tenant Houses c. 1915-1928

These three room cabins housed day laborers who worked as field hands in nearby fields. Land farther away was "sharecropped" by families living in larger tenant houses. Such tenants received a half share of the profits from tobacco, cotton, or soy beans. In the 1930's and 40's between 1200 to 1500 men, women, and children were supported by the sharecropping system of that area.

Big Red Barn

Big Red Barn c. 1928

This huge three-story Dutch Colonial design barn featured an elevator as well as a three-story incline drive up ramp to utilize the third floor. In the 1930's, it housed required farm animals, mainly mules, to pull the heavy farming equipment. The original lightning rod system along the roof ridge is still intact. In 1970, the state highway department moved the location of the U.S. Highway 501 rather than cut 28 feet off the barn.

Holiday House

George J. Holliday House, c. 1900

George Judson Holliday, founder of the Pee Dee Farms Corporation, built this house. Sons Joseph and John Monroe were born here, in addition to five sisters and two older brothers. A vernacular style house, this is one of the more sophisticated early houses in the district. It is a one and half story T-shaped house, with two interior chimneys, a central entry hall, with side lights and fan light, a front porch with hipped shed roof and square post columns. The main house had a high pitched gable roof and the rear portion has a service porch. The porch faces the original road that wound from the river through Galivants Ferry eastward.


Tobacco Barn

Most of the tobacco barns were built with pine tree logs and the cracks between the logs were packed, "daubed", with clay. Tin sheds were often added for weather protection for workers and farm equipment. The tobacco grown in this area is known as "Flue Cured Tobacco", which requires varying and strict temperature controls to cure the tobacco. In early days the bars had brick wood burning furnaces with a series of metal pipes or flues branching out from the furnace going around the barn and up. In order maintain a constant temperature it was required that someone be at the barn at all times to check the temperature and add wood to the furnace as needed. Later coal, fuel oil, and gas were used as fuels to "cure the tobacco."

Baptist Church

Galivants Ferry Baptist Church, c. 1885

The church was built to serve the spiritual needs of the large farming community that existed at that time. It replaced an 1880 brush arbor meeting place with a T-shaped front gable/cross gabled roof and weatherboard siding. Still active today, the church is growing as the entire area becomes more populous.

Holliday residence

John Monroe Holliday Residence, c. 1948

With influences of Colonial and Green revival styles, this two-story rectangular brick house replaces a previous family residence that was destroyed by fire in 1943. It has a hipped roof with round dormers, a two story full façade porch with Ionic columns, and porte-cochere attached to the back of the house. The entrance has federal style fanlight and sidelights. It's distinctive counter-balanced gate with lighted columns and heavy landscaping buffers the U.S. highway 501 noise.

Pack House

Pack House, c. 1915

During "tobacco season" from early June until the middle of September, the pack house was used to grade the cured tobacco and store it until taken to the auction warehouse for sale. The remainder of the year the pack house served as a storage area for corn and other grains. Most pack houses had sheds added to them to store farming equipment and tools. Side sheds provided for storage loading and unloading.


Potato and Fertilizer House, c. 1925


Barn (Next to Convenience Store) c. 1915

Large Barn

Barn (Large White Barn), c. 1925

Supervisor's House

Supervisors House c. 1925


Residence, c. 1900