The history of newspapers in Cheraw began in 1818 when the town was still known as Chatham. Major James Lyon came to Cheraw from Vermont and established The Pee Dee Gazette.
Since the Pee Dee River was earlier known as the Pedee River, it is possible the first newspaper also carried the same spelling. Major Lyon died in 1826 and is buried in Old St. David’s Cemetery.
Chatham Becomes Cheraw
In December 1820 the town was incorporated and the name changed to Cheraw, Presumably, the newspaper then became known as the Cheraw Gazette.
There is a record in June 5, 1823 of another newspaper in town known as The Cheraw Intelligencer and Southern Register. It was published by William Poole and Co. at Front and Market Streets. Mr. Poole was assisted by James F. Conover. At this period in history, Cheraw had about 700 residents.
The Cheraw Intelligencer and Southern Register folded in 1826. It was followed by The Carolina Spectator, published by Mason R. Lyon and edited by C.F. Daniels.
Clippings have shown that a Dr. Murdock McLain was editing The Cheraw Gazette on May 17, 1839. The Cheraw Gazette was still in existence on March 30, 1853, according to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. James Powell was then the editor.
In 1870, the Chesterfield Democrat was established in Cheraw by W.L.T. Prince. In 1878, the Democrat was published by Valcour Little. Joseph Nathan Stricklin, founder of The Cheraw Chronicle, began his career setting type here at the age of nine.
Local history also lists The Carolina Sun as another Cheraw newspaper on June 29, 1882. It was edited by P.H. Pegues.
On June 25, 1885, Mr. Stricklin published The Cheraw Reporter, which was the infant Cheraw Chronicle. The volume number of today’s Cheraw Chronicle is established from this beginning. It is not known when Mr. Stricklin changed the name of his publication from Reporter to Chronicle.
The Carolina Citizen has also been listed as a Cheraw newspaper in April 14, 1904. It was edited by John T. Meehan.
First Daily Paper
The first issue of the Cheraw Daily appeared on June 12, 1911, and was published by Mr. Stricklin.
With the beginning of the daily, Mr. Stricklin had written: “In the past few years Cheraw has grown from the wayside hamlet of 700 population to a bustling little city of 3,000 inhabitants. It is our desire to publish such a paper that will exert a healthy influence on every department of our town. We have faith in the power of industry, energy, resolution and prudence to overcome all obstacles; but we are conscious of the hindrances which have always presented themselves in the pathway of effort to publish a paper in this town.” One year later he gave up the daily effort.
The weekly paper continued and later J.N. Stricklin, Jr., purchased The Cheraw Chronicle from his father. The present publisher of The Chronicle, Edward M. Sweatt, first began to train for the newspaper business at the age of 11, working for “Joe” Stricklin, Jr.
On April 1, 1948, the newspaper was sold to H.C. Carraway and John W. Richards. During this ownership, Paul H. Hearn commuted from Chesterfield to edit the paper.
On December 22, 1949 James Law and his daughter, Christine purchased the paper. They sold it to Andrew M. Secrest on March 26, 1953. Edward M. Sweatt became editor in 1965.
Ownership was transferred again on January 1, 1968, when Edward Sweatt became editor and publisher after Mr. Secrest embarked on an education career that led him to the University of North Carolina, where he teaches journalism.
In May, 1972, Whomas A. MacCallum was named editor, while Mr. Sweatt continued as publisher of The Chronicle and a number of affiliated newspapers in the two Carolinas.
During 1972, The Chronicle and other Pee Dee area weekly newspapers organized and built South Carolina’s first jointly-owned central newspaper printing plant at Latta. This company, Greater Pee Dee Press, today prints 11 editions of nine weekly newspapers each week, plus a number of other publications.
In 1974, a second cooperative printing plant, The Sandhills Press at Hamlet, N.C. was organized by The Chronicle and a group of North Carolina newspapers.
The Chronicle has won a number of awards for excellence in newspaper contests sponsored by the South Carolina Press Association, the National Editorial Association, and was four times winner of the “School Bell” award of the South Carolina Education Association for “distinguished service in the interpretation of education news.”