South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Ketchup Town — Horry County, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Horry County  |  Ketchup Town

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Ketchup Town

Ketchup Town, or Ketchuptown as it is most often spelled (despite being two words on the sign), is an unincorporated farming community located in Horry County at the intersection of South Carolina Highway 23 and South Carolina Highway 99, ten miles north of Aynor. The town’s unusual name has an interesting story behind it.

Ketchuptown Store

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1927, Herbert “Hub” Small purchased an acre of land from Lewis Gerrald for $100. He built a house and a small store there, where he sold food, ice, clothes, and hardware. (A small building that was once used to store the ice still stands today. It was delivered from Mullins periodically during the week.) The store was popular among area farmers because long-distance travel was difficult at that time. The roads were not yet paved, and people traveled primarily by wagons and buggies.

Ketchuptown Store Facade

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In addition to providing basic staples, the store also offered people a place to meet and talk. Farmers who lived nearby would meet at Small’s store to “catch up on the news.” An stand of live oaks across the road made a good place to tie horses and mules, and in time, a Saturday afternoon tradition of “catching up” took hold.

Ketchuptown seen from the highway

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Small and his wife, Blanche Stroud Small, had four young children. Their daughter, Ruth Marie Small Ham, who lived in Ketchuptown all her life, recounted to the Horry County Historical Society her childhood fascination with the letter K. In an essay on Kethuptown’s history, written in third person, she says, “As the children grew older, each took turns working in the store. While Ruth worked, she always had a pencil and paper in her hand. She liked to sketch a pretty ‘k’ and would often write the word ‘Ketchuptown.’ As time passed, the spelling just seemed to conform.”

Ketchuptown Community Store

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ketchup Town received electricity in 1939. Hub Small died in 1949, at the age of 55, and his wife continued to run the store. The dirt roads were paved shortly thereafter, in 1949 or 1950, and people began traveling to Conway, Loris, and Mullins for their needs instead of shopping at the local store. Eventually it closed, but this does not mean that Ketchuptown ceased to exist. It is still home to 75 people!

Ketchuptown Store Sign

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ketchup Town Info

Address: South Nichols Highway, Ketchuptown, SC 29581
GPS Coordinates: 34.102385,-79.155351

Ketchup Town Map

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6 Comments about Ketchup Town

Gayle Ham Hayes says:
June 23rd, 2019 at 6:49 pm

The address they are using is correct, but they used to go my road number instead of names. The crossroads of Highway 23 and 99 are now Nichols Highway and Lake Swamp Road.

SC Picture Project says:
January 19th, 2019 at 10:20 pm

Thank you, we have it updated!

Heidi Tyler says:
January 18th, 2019 at 11:41 pm

The address you have listed is incorrect. Ketchup Town is located on Nichols Hwy. Just thought you may like to correct it.

SCIWAY says:
October 9th, 2017 at 11:37 pm

It is definitely a fascinating little place, great story behind the old store!

Shirley Miller Black says:
October 8th, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I am fascinated with this old store. I grew up in Dillon County. Am visiting my cousins in Aynor. Now I live in Rockport, Texas. Hurricane Harvey hit us on August 25, 2017. I came here to regroup. Lived through Hazel in 1955.

Reece Nix says:
December 2nd, 2013 at 10:43 am

This is my family’s store where my grandma’s mom grew up. My grandma is Jackie Keene Ham. I go here as much as I can, and I wish I could go more often.


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