Notable Hartsville natives

Elizabeth Boatwright Coker, Darlington County native and prizewinning author.

William Glover “Billy” Farrow, Darlington native and World War II pilot.

James Lide Coker, Darlington County native, businessman, agriculturist and philanthropist.

ELIZABETH BOATWRIGHT COKER (1909-1993) — Author, poet, activist, and delightful lecturer, Elizabeth Boatwright Coker of Hartsville, was born in Darlington, South Carolina. After graduating from Converse College in 1929, she won many literary prizes and awards for her nine published novels. Listed in Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World, she was on the board of the South Carolina State Museum Foundation, the South Caroliniana Society, the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, and many others. She received an honorary degree from Converse College in 1987 and was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Author’s Hall of Fame in 1991.

JAMES LIDE COKER (1837-1918) — A leading businessman, agriculturalist, and philanthropist during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Coker was born on a plantation near Society Hill, South Carolina and attended The Citadel and Harvard University. Coker established the Southern Novelty Company (SONOCO), which manufactured paper cones and parallel tubes used for shipping yarn for textile mills. Today Sonoco is a multi-national corporation. Coker, with his son David R. Coker, developed on his farm near Hartsville one of the South’s principal experimental agencies for seed-testing and plant development. In 1908 Coker donated land and funds for the establishment of a college for women in Hartsville, which became Coker College.

LT. WILLIAM GLOVER “BILLY” FARROW (1918-1942) — William G. Farrow was born in 1918 in Darlington. He trained to be a pilot at the Hawthorne Aviation School where he received his commission and the silver wings of an Army Aviator in 1941 before joining the 17 Bombardment Group. In January 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle asked for volunteers from the 17 Bombardment Group for a secret, hazardous mission, and in April, the crew and B-25s were loaded aboard the USS Hornet headed for an unknown destination on a mission now known as the Doolittle Raid story. Lt. Billy Farrow’s plane over Nagoya, where he released bombs from 500 feet destroying an oil storage tank and inflicting damage on the Mitsubishi Aircraft Factory. Sixteen hours after leaving the USS Hornet, the B-25s engines sputtered out of gas, and Lt. Farrow and crew were forced to bail after crossing the south coast of Hanchung, China-Japanese held territory. The crew was captured and tortured by the Japanese, who tried to force them to sign guilty confessions of war crimes. In October, the Emperor altered the death sentence of five airmen, but upheld the executions of Farrow and two others, who were killed at dawn on October 14, 1942.American investigators found their cremated ashes in 1945 in a Japanese mortuary. Farrow’s remains came home in 1946, and were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was awarded decorations posthumously, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Chinese Breast Order of Pao Ting.

Author: Stephan Drew

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