Tom Livingston

When Bob Montgomery and his crew of 15 or 20 men were building the Dunes Golf Course in 1935, they began digging up bricks and soon discovered they were the remains of old chimneys.

Their find added credence to the theory that a “mystery settlement” had indeed been established in the late 1800s in the Dunes Club area but subsequently disappeared without a trace.

Writing in the Vol. 14, No. 1 edition of the Independent Republic Quarterly, Dickie Miheaux recounted a conversation he had with Thomas Walter Livingston, who lived in the Red Bluff section of Horry County

According to Livingston, the mystery settlement existed more than 120 years ago in a part of Myrtle Beach known at the time as Big Swamp.

When Livingston was 10 years old, he lived nearby in Windy Hill.

“Mr. Livingston went on to tell me when he was a young boy…he had to take his father’s cows and horses eight or ten miles up the road to pen them up to graze. On these trips he saw for himself the remains of the houses and the graves of those who were buried there.

This was around 1886.

As a young boy, Livingston learned from his Aunt Spicey Ann Edge the story of the mystery village.

According to Mrs. Edge, a group of people crossed the Waccamaw River in covered wagons in the late 1800s. She talked with them and enjoyed them.

“She said they were a gay crowd,” recalled Livingston. “They played fiddles and danced until the wee hours of the morning.”

Mrs. Edge said the group of 40-50 families was from North Carolina They told her they were going on down near the ocean to settle.

Mrs. Edge had relatives who lived in Socastee, which was known at the time as Sand Ridge, whom she visited as often as possible

On a visit to Socastee, she noticed a settlement in Big Swamp near what is now known as Singleton Swash. It was the same people who had spent the night near her home.

“They told Mrs. Edge that there had been much sickness and many of their crowd had died,” recalled Livingston. “They blamed the sickness and the deaths on the water, which they said was bad”

Mrs. Edge said there were 30 or 40 log cabins with adobe chimneys in this settlement.

A few years later, the same group of people again passed her home in Windy Hill heading back to North Carolina.

Livingston said it was a fact that no one could live in Big Swamp, which extended from Spivey’s Swash to Singleton Swash and from the ocean to the Waccamaw River.

“It was very swampy and there was no drainage at all,” said Livingston. “This made the water bad and offered a breeding place for insects. Possibly many people in this settlement died of yellow fever and malaria.”

Beset by this harsh environment, the little settlement became the stuff of myths until construction of the Dunes Club Golf course unearthed its sad past.

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