Horry County County (pronounced O'Ree) was incorporated in 1801. At that time the county had an estimated population of 550. It was completely surrounded by water, which forced the inhabitants to survive virtually without any assistance from the "outside world". This caused the county residents to become an extremely independent populace, and they named their county "The Independent Republic of Horry". The county was named after, and in honor of, Revolutionary War hero, Peter Horry who was born in South Carolina sometime around 1743. Horry started his military career in 1775 as one of 20 captains, elected by the Provincial Congress of South Carolina, to serve the 1st and 2nd Regiments. In 1790 he was assigned to the South Carolina militia under Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion
On October 29, 2012, the county paid homage to the man for whom the county is named by unveiling a bronze sculpture of Peter Horry inside the Horry County Government and Justice Center. The sculpture was designed by Lubbock, Texas artist Garland Weeks, and Coastal Monument of Conway, South Carolina designed the stone base. Located on the base of the sculpture are the names of the 1801 commissioners on one side and the names of 2011 Horry County Council members on the other side a brief bio of Peter Horry on the front. It cost slightly more than $16,200 for both the bust/sculpture and the stone base.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,255 square miles (3,250 km2), of which 1,134 square miles (2,940 km2) is land and 121 square miles (310 km2) (9.6%) is water. The highest point in the county is 124 ft. above sea level.
Horry County is located in the northeastern corner of South Carolina. It is a diverse land made up of rivers, beaches, forest and swamps. Horry County is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Little Pee Dee River and Drowning Creek (also known as the Lumber River) on Horry's western side, and North Carolina to the north. Waccamaw River, approximately 140 miles (225 km) long, runs through southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina into Horry County. The river runs through the coastal plain, along the eastern border between the two states, and into the Atlantic Ocean.
As of the census estimates of 2008, there were 263,868 people, 81,800 households, and 54,478 families residing in the county. Horry is one of South Carolina's fastest-growing counties. The population density was 173 people per square mile (67/km²). There were 122,085 housing units at an average density of 108 per square mile (42/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.05% White, 15.50% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.16% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. 2.57% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 81,800 households out of which 26.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.40% were married couples living together, 11.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.40% were non-families. 25.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the county, the population was spread out with 21.30% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 25.00% from 45 to 64, and 15.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $42,515 and the median income for a family was $42,676. Males had a median income of $27,663 versus $21,676 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,949. About 8.40% of families and 12.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.90% of those under age 18 and 8.70% of those age 65 or over.
Horry County has a county council whose members represent 11 single-member districts within the county, with a chairman voted at-large. The county council usually meets at 6 p.m on first and third Tuesday of every month in the Council Chambers at the Horry County Government and Justice Center located at 1301 2nd Avenue in Conway.
Horry County has its own police force, the Horry County Police Department, which provides 24-hour services to the unincorporated areas of the county. It is the only county police department in the State of South Carolina. The Horry County Sheriff's Office is responsible for numerous tasks that include: courthouse security, processing of warrants, fingerprinting, registration of sex offenders, funeral escorts, background checks and managing the J. Reuben Long Detention Center. The South Carolina Highway Patrol has a Troop 5 barracks located in Conway, and they provide services throughout the county. Myrtle Beach, Conway, Briarcliffe Acres, Atlantic Beach, Surfside Beach, Loris, and Aynor all have their own Police Departments, which patrol within the relevant town or city's border. North Myrtle Beach has a Public Safety Department, which provides police and fire services in the town of North Myrtle Beach.
In 2013, PTR Industries relocated to the Cool Springs Business Park near Aynor from Bristol, Connecticut after that state passed restrictive gun control legislation following the many deaths in Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in the state. Twenty-one employees are relocating from Bristol. The company said that it will hire an additional 30 workers within the first quarter of 2014, with a goal of having 120 employees in 2017.