About Gifford, SC
The Town of Gifford developed from a small village preceding the Civil War in the territory that was Beaufort County and in 1888 designed as a Village of Hampton County. The first residents of the Village of Gifford were Mr. W.D. Fits and his wife, Elize Forester Fitts. The Fitts family owning a plantation, had their cotton gin and grits mill as a form of financial security. From the Northern States around 1870 the Gifford Family moved into the community. With the arrival of the Giffords came the first place of business, a large general merchandise store owned by the Gifford family.
In 1890, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Hanna moved into the community from Johnsonville, South Carolina, Williamsburg County. With the idea of establishing a sawmill and turpentine business, they began clearing land and building houses for the workers. They also had a Commissary Store for the workers.
In addition to the coming of the Hannas in 1890, the railroad came through the village. The depot was a built in the center of the Village and used as such until the railroad discontinued the station in 1951. Mr. Andrew Brunson was the first postmaster.
In the year of 1896, several Deacons (Henry Johnson, Toby Smart, Jimmy Williams, and Abraham Benjamin) and a Pastor Rev. Nelson of Long Branch Baptist Church, met and decided they would have what is known would be the Sixth of June Picnic which would be celebrated annually, with free dinners and lemonade. After using the Church yard for a number of years the picnics grew so large it was moved into the Town of Gifford, SC. The Sixth of June Picnic is still growing by leaps and good thoughts. The picnic is still largely attended by all citizens in and around the Gifford area.
The first school teacher was Miss Fannie Gifford, the school house being built by her father. In 1914, Mrs. Erbanna John English, known for life services in education, built the first Rosenwald School and gave fifty years of service in the educational field.
Churches established within the communities of Gifford are Mt. Zion Baptist, Macedonia Baptist, Long Branch Baptist, Emmanuel A.M.E, St. Peter A.M.E, and Fatih Temple. Religion is a common force among the people of Gifford and serves as a bond that creates unity, truth and understanding in the coming years of growth.
Education has played a major role in the Rev P. Hanna, Mrs. Ruth Hanna, Rev. C.E. Walker, Mrs. Roberta Walker, Mr. Joe Sumpter, Mrs. Myrtle L. Sumpter, Mrs. Vera K. Singleton, Mrs. Edwinner W. Hughes, Mrs. C.W. Harley, Mrs. E.L Duncan, Mrs. S.B Johnson, Mrs. H.S. Laston, and Mrs. Synctria Singleton. The key to the future success of Gifford shall involve their "educational products." Future hopes and dreams of the town include a Fire Department, Sewerage, more public workers, recreation center, stop-lights, Town Hall, sidewalks, more stores, paved streets and a host of other concerns that are necessities.
The Greyhound Bus Company had a regular stop in Gifford, there were 4 thriving stores in town also. The God Father of Soul "James Brown" visited Gifford along with well known band Willie Wilson.
In the year of 1965, Mr. Edward Hanna was elected a Mayor of Gifford. After his passing Mr. Ralph Campbell carried our the unexpired term of Mayor Hanna to 1971. In 1972, Mr. Campbell was elected Mayor, he was the First African American Mayor in S.C. He was inspirational in forming the governments duties of the Town of Gifford. He was also one of the founders of the S.C Black Mayors Conference. After his passing in 1976, James Risher was elected Mayor and served for 37 years. Former Mayor Risher took up the baton and transformed Gifford into a magnificent town.
The late Joe Benjamin helped get our first Fire Truck which was donated by Englewood New Jersey Fire Department. Giffords first judge was the late Virgin Johnson, Sr., and first police officer was the late Marvin R. Brown.