Latta, like Dillon, sprang from the coming of the railroad. The nucleus of the town was created "in 1888 when the railroad officials decided that a loading station was essential seven miles south of Dillon. Choosing a name for the new station posed a problem as there were several prominent families in the area deserving of the honor, and the railroad officials did not want to show partiality. Finally, the name of Latta was selected out of respect for Robert J. Latta, a native of York, who surveyed the right-of-way for the railroad and made plans for future expansion of the loading point.
Latta grew steadily but more slowly than Dillon. W.W. George erected the first store building in the town and later a dwelling. S.A. McMillan, J.J. Bethea, and D.M. and John L. Dew opened businesses in the town, soon followed by Robert Rose Bethea, E.H. Berry, Lonzo Smith, and others. Many of Latta's early settlers came from the Little Rock section of Dillon County, including the Manning, Hamer, Bethea and Berry families, among others.