H. L. Scarborough: 'A man of many interests'

H. L. Scarborough: "A man of many interests"
Posted 10/21/18

Reflections recalls the life and times of Henry Lee Scarborough, one of Sumter's most involved citizens. H. L. Scarborough contributed greatly to the social, economic and cultural development of Sumter. His numerous accomplishments continue to have …

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H. L. Scarborough: 'A man of many interests'

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Reflections recalls the life and times of Henry Lee Scarborough, one of Sumter's most involved citizens. H. L. Scarborough contributed greatly to the social, economic and cultural development of Sumter. His numerous accomplishments continue to have an impact on our community today. The information and photos used in preparing this article were taken from The Sumter Item archives. Because of the length of the articles, a degree of editing was required.

"Sumter lost one of its most valuable and popular citizens when Henry Lee Scarborough died suddenly at his home on North Main Street in December of 1929. Mr. Scarborough suffered a stroke of apoplexy (indicates a cerebral accident or stroke) after awakening and died two hours later. He felt badly but wasn't confined to his bed and went to work at his office in the courthouse, walking the streets as usual. The announcement of his death came as a great shock to the entire community."

"H. L. Scarborough was born near Bishopville on June 9, 1867, the son of Col. Wilson D. Scarborough and Mrs. Gertrude Spencer Scarborough. His early life was spent at his birthplace and on his father's farm near Dalzell. He moved to Sumter while a young man at the age of 26, promptly seeking election as county treasurer. He was elected and served the county with great distinction for four terms. At the end of his fourth term, Mr. Scarborough voluntarily retired to private life and devoted the next 10 years to his lumber and farming interests. During this interval, he served as president of the Rocky Bluff Lumber Co. and as a representative of E. B. Babcock and Co. of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was very active in the lumber business in North Carolina and South Carolina, becoming one of the founders of the North Carolina Pine Association."

Mr. Scarborough was persuaded by his friends to run for clerk of court and prevailed in the 1912 election. He served in this position until his death, being recognized as one of the best public officials in the state.

"He had a great interest in agriculture, having been raised on a farm. Mr. Scarborough successfully operated extensive farming interests and was well versed in the problems of the farmers, remaining at the forefront of every movement which improved the agricultural conditions in South Carolina. He was an active member of the South Carolina Cotton Growers' Cooperative Association and was placed on the committee to reorganize the Tobacco Growers' Cooperative Association, serving as county chairman of this organization." Mr. Scarborough took an active interest in the YMCA, serving as director of the Sumter Y and the State Organization. He became a member of the International YMCA, providing valuable leadership to this organization. Mr. Scarborough became an active member of the Travelers' Protective Association, serving as first vice president of the national body for several years.

He holds the distinction of being an initial organizer of the Sumter Kiwanis Club, serving as the first president of the club. He was a lifetime member of First Presbyterian Church, holding the positions of Sunday school superintendent and choir director. Mr. Scarborough also became an elder and held this position for several years. He managed to find time to become a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the Fortnightly Club, while continuing his membership in the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World, serving in some official capacity while belonging to each of these organizations.

He enrolled at The Citadel in 1882, following its reopening after the War Between the States. Mr. Scarborough attended the school for a year before transferring to University of South Carolina, where he remained for two years. He became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and eventually became president of the USC alumni association. Mr. Scarborough was elected president of the South Carolina Association of Public Officials and the South Carolina Clerks of Court Association.

H. L. Scarborough possessed a "charming personality which assisted him in making numerous warm friendships. No one in Sumter County was better known or held in higher esteem. A compassionate man, he gave liberally to many charities throughout his life. His death was a great blow to the community and the state. Funeral services were held at his residence with interment conducted at the Sumter Cemetery.