Oates, a thriving rural community from the 1880s to the 1930s, grew up around a general store built nearby by William J. Oates (1826-1897). Oates's father James (1786-1873) had acquired a plantation here in 1824. William J. Oates, who moved to Florida and served in the Confederate army in a Florida unit, came home to Darlington District after the war.
This crossroads was named Oates in 1880, when a post office was opened in the general store. Union Academy, founded about the same time, was succeeded by the Oates School in the 1930s. A spur off the Lydia-Lamar line of the Seaboard Air Line RR ran to Oates from 1912 to 1937. The Bank of Oates, founded in 1916, closed during the agricultural depression of the mid-to- late 1920s.