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Coastal Carolina University researcher sheds new light on Swamp Fox

September 24, 2009

A Coastal Carolina University researcher has discovered compelling evidence of the location of a Revolutionary War homestead in Horry County that has a significant connection to the career of Francis Marion, the legendary general known as the Swamp Fox.

Deryl Young, a research specialist in the University's Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, has located the site of the colonial-era plantation of Gilbert Johnstone in northern Horry County. In a 1790 letter to his daughter-in-law relating his activities in the American Revolution, Johnstone describes a meeting at his home attended by Francis Marion, Peter Horry (for whom Horry County is named) and other prominent patriots. The letter states that at this meeting Marion was chosen to be the leader of the group.

"If the statement in Johnstone's letter is valid, then the plantation where this meeting took place has major historical significance," said Young. Francis Marion is considered to be one of the major military figures in America's war for independence from Great Britain, and verification of the location of this historic meeting would be of national importance.

Young, who works with Ben Burroughs in local history research through the University's Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, specializes in Kings Grant research of the old Georgetown Judicial District, of which the Horry County area was once a part. Through his research, Young discovered that Johnstone purchased his first tract of land in 1772 in what is today Horry County -- a 200-acre tract on the north side of Lake Swamp on the waters of the Little Pee Dee River. The Royal Grant was a lone tract of land with no distinguishing features and was joined on all sides by vacant land, making it an extremely difficult tract to locate. Young is in the process of completing his research and will issue a final report soon.