Coward is a rural farming community. Tobacco, cotton and corn were its primary cash crops in the 1940’s, and its lumber industry was supported by the railroad. Coward was also home to the locally owned Frick Sawmill, which thrived there for nearly 50 years.
There is some debate about how the town acquired its name. Through extensive research by very knowledgeable curator(s) at the Florence County Museum, located at 111 W. Cheves Street, Florence South Carolina, www.flocomuseum.org, the most likely account is that in 1831, Capt. Solomon Coward was granted 126 acres spanning a section of the Lynches River in southern Florence County, which at the time was within Williamsburg District. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, however, that the area adopted the name Coward. Some records indicate that the town was named in honor of Col. Asbury Coward, a Confederate veteran who later became Commandant of the South Carolina Military Academy.
Other records indicate that the town was named for John Wilson Coward, a member of the “Committee of 50,” which was responsible for petitioning the State of South Carolina for the charter incorporating Florence County. In addition to being one of Florence’s cofounders, Mr. Coward was also a successful local planter. He donated the land on which the town’s first train depot and public school were built.
In any case, we know that the town was called Coward long before its incorporation in 1963.