Abbeville | Aiken | Allendale | Anderson | Bamberg | Barnwell | Beaufort | Berkeley | Calhoun | Charleston |
Cherokee | Chester | Chesterfield | Clarendon | Colleton | Darlington | Dillon | Dorchester | Edgefield | Fairfield |
Florence | Georgetown | Greenville | Greenwood | Hampton | Horry | Jasper | Kershaw | Lancaster | Laurens |
Lee | Lexington | Marion | Marlboro | McCormick | Newberry | Oconee | Orangeburg | Pickens | Richland |
Saluda | Spartanburg | Sumter | Union | Williamsburg | York
South Carolina currently has 46 counties. Counties were established in the colonial period primarily for locating land grants, with most other governmental activities being centralized in Charleston. The growth of the backcountry led to the establishment of judicial districts throughout the colony, but lowcountry areas continued to be identified primarily by their Anglican parish names. Following the Revolution, both district and county courts were established, but in 1800 most of the counties became districts. Finally, in 1868 all of the existing districts were renamed counties. New counties continued to be formed until the early part of the 20th century, with the most recent being Allendale in 1919. For maps and information on early counties and districts, see Maps Tracing the Formation of Counties in South Carolina.
For most of the state's history, county officers had very little power or authority. Counties were essentially governed by their state legislative delegations. This system ended in 1975 when the Home Rule Act was passed. Each county now has a choice of one of four types of government. In the council form of government all executive and legislative power rests in the elected county council, while the council-supervisor form provides for an elected council and an elected supervisor with specified powers and duties. In both the council-administrator and council-manager forms the administrator or manager is appointed by the council.
Both the county and its county seat, the town of Abbeville , were named for the French town of the same name. Originally part of Ninety-Six District, the area was designated as Abbeville County in 1785. Parts of Abbeville later went to form Greenwood (1897) and McCormick (1916) counties. The county was settled primarily by Scotch-Irish and French Huguenot farmers in the mid-eighteenth century. A historic treaty with the Cherokee Indians was signed at Dewitt's Corner (now Due West) in 1777. Abbeville was known as a hotbed of secession, and at the end of the Civil War the last Confederate council of war was held there. Abbeville's most famous native son was John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), United States vice president, secretary of war and of state, and senator.
Aiken County and its county seat, the town of Aiken, were named for William Aiken (1806-1831), president of the South Carolina Railroad. The county was formed in 1871 from parts of Orangeburg, Lexington, Edgefield, and Barnwell counties. The area was sparsely settled until the 1830s,when the South Carolina Railroad was built connecting Charleston to the town of Hamburg on the Savannah River, with the town of Aiken being established as a depot. In the 1870s Aiken became a winter resort for wealthy Northerners, and it remains popular with horse trainers and riders. The federal government chose Aiken County in the 1950s to be the site of a hydrogen bomb plant, the Savannah River Site.James F. Byrnes (1879-1972) began his legal and political careers in Aiken before going on to become United States Congressman and senator, secretary of state, Supreme Court justice, and governor of South Carolina. Other prominent residents of the county were William Gregg (1800-1867), who built the state's first textile mill at Graniteville in 1846, and governor and United States senator James Henry Hammond (1807-1864).
Allendale County and its county seat of Allendale were named for the Allen family, one of whose members, Paul Allen, was the town's first postmaster. The county is South Carolina's youngest; it was formed in 1919 from parts of Barnwell and Hampton counties. The area was settled in the mid-eighteenth century by English, German, and Scotch-Irish farmers, and it remains primarily agricultural. The plantation of Confederate generalJohnson Hagood (1829-1898) was in what is now Allendale County, and the artist Jasper Johns spent his childhood years in Allendale.
Anderson County and its county seat, Anderson, were named for Revolutionary War general Robert Anderson (1741-1812). This region was occupied by the Cherokee Indians until 1777, when it was ceded by treaty to the state. Part of the "Indian Land" became Pendleton District (also called Washington District at one time.) The area was given its present name in 1826, when Pendleton District was split into Anderson and Pickens. Most of the early settlers of this area were Scotch-Irish farmers who moved south from Pennsylvania and Virginia in the eighteenth century. The oldest town in the county isPendleton, which was founded around 1790; it became a popular summer resort for lowcountry planters in the nineteenth century. Some famous residents of Anderson County were United States senator and governor Olin D. Johnston (1896-1965), business leader Charles E. Daniel (1895-1964), and composer Lily Strickland (1884-1958).
Bamberg County and its county seat, Bamberg, were named for local resident William Seaborn Bamberg (1820-1858) and other members of the Bamberg family. The area was a part of Barnwell County until 1897 when the new county was established. Although the area has been primarily agricultural, several towns developed along the route of the South Carolina Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century. In February 1865 Confederate soldiers fought an unsuccessful skirmish against General Sherman's troops at Rivers Bridge, now the site of a state park. The plantation of author William Gilmore Simms(1806-1870) was in what is now Bamberg County, and artist Jim Harrison is also a native of the county.
Barnwell County and its county seat of Barnwell were named for Revolutionary War leader John Barnwell (1748-1800). The county was originally part of Orangeburg District, and in 1785 it was named Winton County. It was given its current name in 1800. Barnwell County has decreased in size over the years as new counties were created within its boundaries (Aiken in 1871, Bamberg in 1897 and Allendale in 1919). The South Carolina Railroad, which connected Charleston to Hamburg on the Savannah River, was built through this area, creating the towns of Blackville and Williston in the mid-nineteenth century. In more recent years the county was the home of several powerful state politicians, known collectively as the "Barnwell Ring." Included were state Senator Edgar A. Brown (1888-1975), Speaker of the House Solomon Blatt (1895-1986), and Governor Joseph E. Harley(1880-1942).
Both Beaufort County and its county seat of Beaufort were named for Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort (1684-1714), one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. The district was formed in 1769 from the parishes of Prince William, St. Luke, St. Helena, and St. Peter. It remained relatively unchanged in size until 1878, when a large portion was removed to form Hampton County. French explorers visited this area long before the English arrived. They established a fort in 1562, as did the Spanish in 1566; neither of these settlements survived, however. Beaufort, the second oldest town in South Carolina, was founded in 1710. In the years before the Civil War, rice and sea island cotton plantations brought great wealth to the region. Federal troops occupied Beaufort in December 1861, and the first school in the South for freed slaves was established during the Civil War at what is now Penn Center on St. Helena Island. The United States Marine Corps began training recruits at Parris Island in 1915, and later in the twentieth century Hilton Head Island and neighboring sea islands have become popular resort and retirement destinations. Some famous residents of Beaufort County are naturalists Alexander Garden (ca. 1730-1791) and Stephen Elliott (1771-1830); Robert Smalls (1839-1915), a former slave who became a United States Congressman; boxer Joe Frazier; and writer Pat Conroy.
Berkeley County was named for two of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, Lord John Berkeley (d. 1678) and Sir William Berkeley (d. 1677).The county was orginally named in 1682, and at one time it included the parishes of St. John Berkeley, St. James Goose Creek, St. James Santee, St. Stephen, andSt. Thomas and St. Denis. In 1769 this area became part of Charleston District, and it did not become a separate county again until 1882. The county seat was Mount Pleasant from 1882 until 1895, when it was moved to Moncks Corner. This area was settled in the late seventeenth century by English and French Huguenot planters and their African slaves. Many of the old rice plantations are now covered by the waters of Lake Moultrie, which was built in the 1940s as part of theSantee-Cooper hydroelectric project. Two famous Revolutionary War generals were residents of the area: William Moultrie (1730-1805) and Francis Marion (1732-1795), known as the Swamp Fox. Henry Laurens (1724-1792), president of the Continental Congress, resided at Mepkin Plantation, which many years later was purchased by publisher Henry Luce (1898-1967). Luce and his wife, writer and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987), are buried at Mepkin, which is now a Trappist monastery.
Calhoun County was named for John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), who served as United States vice president, secretary of state and of war, and senator. The county seat, the town of St. Matthews, was settled around 1841 in an area that was known for its cotton plantations. The county itself was formed in 1908 from parts of Orangeburg and Lexington counties. During the Revolutionary War a famous incident took place at Fort Motte in present day Calhoun County. Rebecca Motte(1738-1815), a local plantation owner, helped the Revolutionary troops drive the British out of her plantation house; she reportedly provided the soldiers with a burning arrow to destroy her own dwelling. Another famous resident of the area was Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Julia Peterkin (1880-1961), who lived at Lang Syne Plantation.
Charleston County and the city of Charleston, its county seat, are the most historic locations in the state. English settlers arrived in the colony of Carolina in 1670 and established a town at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River. The settlement, named Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, was subsequently moved a few miles away to a peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Charles Town (renamed Charleston in 1783) was the political, social, and economic center of South Carolina throughout the colonial and antebellum periods, and it served as the state capital until 1790. Charleston District was formed in 1769, but portions were later split off to form Colleton (1800) and Berkeley (1882) counties. Present day Charleston County includes the old parishes of St. Philip, St. Michael, Christ Church, St. Andrew, St. John Colleton, and part of St. James Santee. English and French Huguenot settlers and their African slaves built indigo, rice, and cotton plantations along the area's rivers and on its sea islands, while merchants of many nationalities made Charleston one of the busiest ports on the Atlantic. During the Revolutionary War the American forces defeated the attacking British fleet at Charleston in June 1776; a palmetto log fort (later named Fort Moultrie) on Sullivans Island withstood the British cannon balls, and the palmetto tree was subsequently given a prominent place on the South Carolina flag. At another Charleston fort, Fort Sumter, federal troops were fired on by Confederate forces in April 1861, signalling the start of the Civil War. Charleston County has had many famous residents, including three signers of the United States Constitution: Charles Pinckney (1757-1824), Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (1746-1825), and John Rutledge (1739-1800). Other residents include architect Robert Mills (1781-1855), writers DuBose Heyward (1885-1940) and Archibald Rutledge (1883-1973), slave leader Denmark Vesey (1767-1822), abolitionists Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) andAngelina Grimke (1805-1879) , scientist Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941), and civil rights leader Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987).
Cherokee County was named for the Cherokee Indians who once made it their home. It was formed in 1897 from parts of Spartanburg, Union, and York counties, and the county seat is Gaffney . During the Revolutionary War the battle of Cowpens, an important victory for the revolutionary forces, took place there on January 17, 1781. Iron mining was an important activity in this region up to the time of the Civil War, and it is sometimes called the Old Iron District. In the mid-nineteenth century the resort at Limestone Springs was a popular retreat for lowcountry planters. Writer Wilbur Joseph Cash (1901-1941) was a native of Cherokee County, as is actress Andie MacDowell.
Chester County and its county seat, the city of Chester, were named for Chester County, Pennsylvania. The county was formed in 1785 as part of the larger Camden District but was later transferred to Pinckney District (1791-1800); it became a separate district in 1800. Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia moved into this upstate region beginning about 1755. During the Revolutionary War, American forces under GeneralThomas Sumter were defeated here at the battle of Fishing Creek in August 1780; the Americans were victorious at Fishdam Ford in November of the same year. TheLandsford Canal was built in 1823 to allow boats and barges to bypass rapids on the Catawba River; this canal is now open as a state park. In later years the availability of hydroelectric power encouraged the establishment of textile mills in the area. South Carolina governor, United States senator, and judge Donald S. Russell (1906-1998) lived in Chester as a boy.
Chesterfield County was named for the English statesman Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773). The county seat is the town of Chesterfield, but the oldest town in the county is Cheraw, which was settled around 1748. The county was formed in 1785, but until 1800 it was part of the larger Cheraws District. Welsh settlers from Pennsylvania and Delaware moved into this region in the mid-eighteenth century, and they were later joined by Scotch-Irish and English. Cheraw was a center for transportation along the Great Pee Dee River, but most of the county is agricultural. General Sherman's troops passed through this area during the Civil War, briefly occupying the towns of Cheraw and Chesterfield. Cheraw State Park, founded in 1934, is the oldest of the state parks. Jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) was a native of Chesterfield County.
Clarendon County was named for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (1608/9-1674), one the the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. The county was first established in 1785; in 1800 it became part of Sumter District but then was split from Sumter in 1857. The county seat is Manning. Several Revolutionary War skirmishes took place in this area; at Fort Watson in 1781 British soldiers were driven from a large Indian mound that had been fortified. During the Civil War Union troops under General Edward Potter moved through the area, burning several plantations. In the 1950s Clarendon County schools were sued over the issue of racial segregation. The case, Briggs v. Elliott, was one of several cases that eventually led the U. S. Supreme Court to abolish segregation in 1954. Clarendon County can claim five South Carolina governors, all related: James Burchell Richardson (1770-1836), Richard Irvine Manning(1789-1836), John Peter Richardson (1801-1864), John Laurence Manning(1816-1889), and John Peter Richardson (1831-1899). Children's author Peggy Parish (1927-1988) and tennis player Althea Gibson (1927-2003) are also Clarendon natives.
Colleton County was named for one of the Lords Proprietors, Sir John Colleton (1608-1666). The county was first created in 1682 under the proprietary government, but the designation was seldom used in the colonial period. Instead, the area was known by its parish names: St. Bartholomew, St. Paul, and St. George Dorchester. In 1769 these parishes became part of Charleston District, where they remained until Colleton District was formed in 1800. The county seat is Walterboro. A portion of the county was removed in 1897 to form Dorchester County. Several Revolutionary War skirmishes took place in Colleton County, and the state legislature met in the town of Jacksonboro in 1782 while Charleston was occupied by the British. In 1828 the first nullification meeting in the state was held in Walterboro. This part of the lowcountry was known for its extensive rice and cotton plantations. Many of the old plantations were bought by Northerners after the Civil War for use as hunting preserves; some of those lands are now being incorporated into the ACE Basin, a nature preserve bounded by the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers. The Revolutionary War hero Isaac Hayne (1745-1781) was a Colleton resident, as were politicians Rawlins Lowndes (1721-1800) and William Lowndes (1782-1822).
The origin of the name of Darlington County is uncertain, but it may have been named for Darlington, England. The county was formed in 1785, with the county seat at Darlington, and until 1800 it was a part of the Cheraws District. Parts of Darlington County were removed to form Florence County in 1888 and Lee County in 1902. This area was settled in the mid-eighteenth century by Welsh, Scotch-Irish, and English farmers, who grew cotton primarily. In more recent years the county has been best known for the stock car races which take place at the Darlington Raceway. David Rogerson Williams (1776-1830), governor and scientific experimenter, was a native of Darlington; he is remembered for introducing the mule to Southern agriculture. Other prominent Darlington residents were industrialists James Lide Coker (1837-1918) and David R. Coker (1870-1938) and novelists Annie Greene Nelson (1902-1993) and Elizabeth Boatwright Coker (1909-1993).
Dillon County was named for James W. Dillon (1826-1913), a prominent local resident. The county seat was also named for him. Dillon County was formed in 1910 from Marion County. Swamps and rivers kept this section of the Pee Dee isolated for many years, but the construction of a railroad in the nineteenth century brought increased development. The residents primarily engaged in cotton and tobacco farming and in timber harvesting. Composer Carlisle Floyd was born in the Dillon County town of Latta.
Dorchester County was named for Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1696 Congregationalists from that town moved south and established a new settlement calledDorchester. Although the town of Dorchester had been abandoned by 1788, the parish in which it was located continued to be referred to as St. George Dorchester. This name was subsequently adopted for the county when it was formed from parts of Colleton and Berkeley counties in 1897. The county seat is the town of St. George, which also took its name from the old parish. The town of Summerville was settled in the late eighteenth century as a summer resort for planters who wished to escape the malaria prevalent on their rice plantations; the town later became a winter resort also. Middleton Place Gardens, the remains of an old rice plantation, are the oldest landscaped gardens in the country, having been laid out in 1741. Middleton Place was the home of Henry Middleton(1717-1784), president of the Continental Congress, his son Arthur Middleton (1742-1787), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his grandson Henry Middleton(1770-1846), a governor, United States Congressman, and ambassador to Russia.
The origin of the name Edgefield is not clear, although it is usually described as "fanciful." The county was formed in 1785 as part of Ninety Six District; parts of Edgefield later went to form Aiken (1871), Saluda (1895), Greenwood (1897), and McCormick (1916) counties. The county seat is the Town of Edgefield. This part of the upcountry, settled in the late eighteenth century, was the site of several Revolutionary War skirmishes. Although primarily agricultural, Edgefield County developed a thriving pottery industry in the nineteenth century; the old alkaline-glazed Edgefield pottery is highly sought after today. The larger Edgefield County was the home of ten South Carolina governors, including Francis W. Pickens (1805-1869), Benjamin R. Tillman (1847-1918), and Strom Thurmond (1902-2003). Confederate general Martin Witherspoon Gary (1831-1881) was also a resident of Edgefield County.
The origin of the name Fairfield is not known, but local legend attributes it to a remark by Lord Cornwallis about the "fair fields" of the area. The county was formed in 1785 as a part of Camden District. The town of Winnsboro, which was settled around 1755, is the county seat. Fairfield County lies between the upcountry and the lowcountry areas of the state, and it was settled both by Scotch-Irish immigrants from colonies to the north and by English and French Huguenot planters from the lowcountry. In the colonial period this area was a center for the Regulator movement, which sought to bring law and order to the backcountry. During the Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis made his headquarters in Winnsboro from October 1780 to January 1781; the county was also invaded by General Sherman's troops during the Civil War. Cotton production was the major economic activity of the area, but the county also produced Winnsboro Blue Granite. Some prominent residents of the county were Regulator leader Thomas Woodward (d. 1779), Revolutionary War soldier Richard Winn (1750-1818), and artist Laura Glenn Douglas (1886-1962).
Florence County took its name from its county seat, the city of Florence. The county was formed in 1888 from parts of Marion, Darlington, Williamsburg, and Clarendon counties. The city of Florence was founded in the 1850s as a stop on the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad; it was named for Florence Harllee, daughter of William Wallace Harllee (1812-1897), the president of the railroad. Florence soon became an important transportation center for the Pee Dee region. During the Civil War it was the site of a Confederate prison camp. In later years tobacco growing became a major activity in the county. Some famous Florence County natives are artist William H. Johnson (1901-1970), astronaut Ronald E. McNair (1950-1986), and stock car racer Cale Yarborough.
Georgetown County and its county seat, Georgetown, were named for King George II of England. Spanish explorers are believed to have visited this coastal area in 1526, but no permanent settlement was established. English planters and their African slaves moved into the region in the early eighteenth century, building large rice and indigo plantations. The town of Georgetown, which was established around 1730, was a busy port serving the surrounding plantations. Georgetown District was first named in 1769, encompassing the parishes of Prince George, All Saints, and Prince Frederick. In 1785 the district was divided into four counties: Liberty (which became Marion District in 1800), Kingston (which became Horry District in 1801), Williamsburg (which became a separate district in 1804), and Winyah (which was renamed Georgetown in 1800). During the Revolutionary War the troops of General Francis Marion often hid in the swamps of Georgetown County while waging guerrilla warfare against the British. Rice planting declined after the Civil War, and many of the old plantations became wildlife or hunting preserves. Many famous South Carolinians were residents of Georgetown County, including Thomas Lynch, Jr. (1749-1779), a signer of the Declaration of Independence; artist Washington Allston (1779-1843); Theodosia Burr Alston (1783-1813), the daughter of Aaron Burr; Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), Congressman, secretary of war, and ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the poinsettia to the United States; and Joseph Hayne Rainey (1832-1887), the first African-American elected to the U. S. House of Representatives.
The origins of the name Greenville County are uncertain, but the county was probably named for Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) or for an early resident, Isaac Green. This part of the state was the territory of the Cherokee Indians until 1777. Scotch-Irish and English settlers began moving into the area soon after it was ceded to the state. Greenville District was created in 1786, but from 1791 to 1800 it was part of the larger Washington District. The county seat was originally named Pleasantburg, but in 1831 the name was changed to Greenville . Because of its location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville County became a popular summer retreat for lowcountry planters. Encouraged by abundant streams and rivers, textile manufacturers began operating in the area as early as the 1820s, and after the Civil War Greenville County became a textile center. Diplomat and Congressman Waddy Thompson(1798-1868) was a resident of Greenville, and in more recent years the county has produced baseball player "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (1887-1951), Nobel Prize winnerCharles Townes, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
Greenwood County takes its name from its county seat, Greenwood. The city ofGreenwood was named around 1824 for the plantation of an early resident, John McGehee. Greenwood County was formed in 1897 from parts of Abbeville and Edgefield counties, which were originally part of the old Ninety Six District. This part of the backcountry was not settled until the mid-eighteenth century. The town of Ninety Six was established as a frontier trading post around 1730, and it was the site in November 1775 of one of the first South Carolina battles of the American Revolution. In May 1781 American forces besieged the British-held Star Fort at Ninety Six for over a month but were forced to withdraw when British reinforcements approached. The arrival of the railroad in 1852 stimulated cotton growing and textile manufacturing in this area. Local plantation owner Francis Salvador (1747-1776), who was killed fighting Cherokees during the Revolutionary War, was the first Jewish person elected to the state legislature. United States Congressman Preston Smith Brooks (1819-1857) and educator Benjamin Mays(1894-1984) were also residents of Greenwood County.
Hampton County and its county seat Hampton were named for Confederate general and governor Wade Hampton (1818-1902). The county was formed from Beaufort County in 1878, shortly after Wade Hampton took office as governor. Parts of Hampton County later went to form Jasper (1912) and Allendale (1919) counties. During the Civil War, while the coastal areas of Beaufort County were occupied by federal troops, many planters fled to the area that became Hampton County. General Sherman's troops passed through the county in 1865, fighting several skirmishes with Confederate troops. This section of the state has remained primarily agricultural. Athlete Lucile Ellerbe Godbold (1900-1981), who won two gold medals in track and field at the 1922 Olympics, grew up in Hampton County, and writer Vertamae Grosvenor was also born there.
Horry County was named for Revolutionary War hero Peter Horry (1743-1815). The county was originally a part of Georgetown District, and at one time it was called Kingston. It became a separate county in 1801, with the county seat at Conway. This area of the state was isolated for many years by numerous rivers and swamps, and the inhabitants sometimes referred to themselves as the "Independent Republic of Horry." Lumber and naval stores were the primary industries during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with tobacco farming being introduced later. In the twentieth century tourism has come to dominate the coastal section of the county centered around Myrtle Beach. Television personality Vanna White and science fiction writer William Gibson are natives of Horry County.
Jasper County was named for Revolutionary War hero Sergeant William Jasper (ca.1750-1779). The county was formed in 1912 from parts of Beaufort and Hampton counties, and the county seat is Ridgeland. This area of the state was the home of the Yemassee and Coosaw Indians until colonial times. In 1732 Swiss-German immigrants led by Jean Pierre Purry established a settlement called Purrysburgh on the Savannah River, but the town did not survive. Other settlers built extensive rice plantations, some of which now form theSavannah National Wildlife Refuge. Two other towns in the county, Coosawhatchie and Pocotaligo, served at different times as the seat of government for Beaufort District. During the Civil War the Confederate army defeated federal troops at the battle of Honey Hill in November 1864. Jasper County was home to Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Henry Martyn Robert (1837-1923), author of Robert's Rules of Order.
Kershaw County was named for Joseph Kershaw (1727-1791), an early settler. Originally part of Camden District, Kershaw County was formed in 1791 from parts of Claremont, Lancaster, Fairfield, and Richland counties. The county seat is Camden, which is the oldest inland city in South Carolina. This site was settled around 1732 by English traders and farmers who moved inland from Charleston. During the Revolutionary War the British occupied Camden from June 1780 to May 1781.Fourteen battles took place in the area, including the Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780) and the Battle of Hobkirk Hill (April 25, 1781). Kershaw County later produced six Confederate generals: Joseph Brevard Kershaw (1822-1894), James Chesnut (1815-1885), James Cantey (1818-1873), Zack Cantey Deas (1819-1882), John Bordenave Villepigue (1830-1862), and John Doby Kennedy (1840-1896). Union troops under General Sherman burned parts of Camden in February 1865. Mary Boykin Chesnut (1823-1886), who chronicled the Civil War in her diaries, was a resident of Kershaw County. Statesman and financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), labor leader Lane Kirkland (1922-1999), and baseball player Larry Doby(1923-2003) were also born there.
Lancaster County and its county seat of Lancaster were named for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The county was formed in 1785, and it was originally part of Camden District. A part of Lancaster County was removed in 1791 to form Kershaw County. Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania began moving into this upstate region in the 1750s. The Waxhaws settlement on the border with North Carolina was the birthplace ofPresident Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). During the Revolutionary War British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton earned his nickname of "Bloody" Tarleton by massacring American troops in this area on May 29, 1780 at the Battle of Waxhaws; the Battle of Hanging Rockwas also fought in the county later the same year. Although Lancaster County has been primarily agricultural, gold mining began there in the 1820s and textile manufacturing sprang up following the Civil War. Governor and U. S. Senator Stephen Decatur Miller(1787-1838), surgeon J. Marion Sims (1813-1883), industrialist Elliott White Springs(1896-1959), and astronaut Charles M. Duke, Jr. were all Lancaster County residents.
Laurens County and its county seat, Laurens, were named for Revolutionary War leaderHenry Laurens (1724-1792). The county was established in 1785 as a part of Ninety Six District. This part of the state was settled primarily by Scotch-Irish and English immigrants in the mid 1700s, and during the American Revolution quite of few of its residents remained loyal to Great Britain. Several Revolutionary War battles were fought in the county, including the Battle of Musgrove's Mill (August 19, 1780). President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), a native of North Carolina, worked as a tailor in the town of Laurens for a brief time in the 1820s. Laurens County was also home to Ann Pamela Cunningham (1816-1875), the leader of the movement to preserve Mount Vernon, and educator Wil Lou Gray (1883-1984).
Lee County was named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870). The county was formed in 1902 from parts of Darlington, Kershaw, and Sumter counties, and the county seat is Bishopville. A Revolutionary War skirmish took place in 1781 at Ratcliff's Bridge, and during the Civil War Confederate and Union troops skirmished at Mount Elon and Spring Hill in 1865. Lee County was also the site in 1880 of the last fatal duel fought in South Carolina. Cotton farming has long been associated with this area. U. S. SenatorEllison Durant Smith (1864-1944), a native of Lee County, was nicknamed "Cotton Ed" because of his support for cotton farmers.
Lexington County and its county seat, the town of Lexington, were named for the battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, the first battle of the American Revolution. This part of the state was first named Saxe Gotha township about 1733. It was designated as Lexington County from 1785 to 1791, then was merged back into the larger Orangeburg District. Lexington was eventually made a separate district in 1804. Small parts of the county later went to form Aiken (1871) and Calhoun (1908) counties. European settlement of this area began around 1718 when the British established a trading post on the Congaree River, which eventually became the town of Granby. Beginning in the 1730s many German, Swiss, and Scotch-Irish immigrants moved into the area and established small farms. Granby was the leading town and county seat for many years, but the growth of Columbia across the Congaree led to Granby's decline, and the county seat was moved to the town of Lexington in 1818. Several Revolutionary War skirmishes took place in this area, and General Sherman's troops shelled the city of Columbia from the Lexington side of the Congaree during the Civil War. In 1930 Lake Murray was created on the Saluda River in Lexington County, covering many of the old farms and creating new recreational opportunities for the county. Revolutionary War heroine Emily Geiger was a resident of Lexington County, and television personality Leeza Gibbons grew up there.
Marion County and its county seat, the town of Marion, were named for Revolutionary War general Francis Marion (1732-1795), known as the "Swamp Fox." In 1785 Liberty County was created as a part of Georgetown District; renamed Marion, it became a separate district in 1800. Parts of Marion later went to form Florence (1888) and Dillon (1910) counties. English settlers moved up the Great Pee Dee River into this area in the eighteenth century. During the Revolutionary War General Marion's men fought several skirmishes with the British here before retreating to their camp at Snows Island. In the twentieth century Marion County became a major tobacco growing region. Writers Virginia Durant Young (1842-1906) and Gwen Bristow (1903-1980) were natives of Marion County.
Marlboro County was named for John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). The county name was originally spelled Marlborough, but it was later shortened. The county was created in 1785 as a part of Cheraws District, and the county seat isBennettsville. Welsh Baptists from Delaware settled in an area of the county known as Welsh Neck around 1737, and they were later joined by English and Scotch-Irish settlers. Cotton growing made this a wealthy part of the state prior to the Civil War. The town of Blenheim was also known for its mineral springs. General Sherman's troops passed through the county in 1865, briefly occupying the town of Bennettsville. Some famous Marlboro County natives are United States Congressman and diplomat Robert Blair Campbell (1791-1862), United States and Confederate Congressman John McQueen(1804-1867), and children's advocate Marian Wright Edelman.
McCormick County and its county seat, the town of McCormick, were named for inventor Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884). The county was formed in 1916 from parts of Edgefield, Abbeville, and Greenwood counties. This area was settled in the mid-eighteenth century by Scotch-Irish, French Huguenot, and German farmers. Some of the early inhabitants were massacred by Cherokee Indians at Long Cane in 1760, and the British subsequently built Fort Charlotte to protect the region; this fort was one of the first seized by the Americans in the Revolutionary War. About 1850 gold was discovered where the town of McCormick now stands. The Dorn Gold Mine, which later also produced manganese, was bought by Cyrus McCormick in 1869; he donated land for the town, which was named for him in 1882. This mine continued to operate until the 1930s. Several prominent South Carolinians have resided in the area that is now McCormick County, including governor and U. S. senator George McDuffie (1790-1851), Unionist leaderJames Louis Petigru (1789-1863), and Moses Waddel (1770-1840), who taught many of the future leaders of the state at his Willington Academy.
The origin of the name Newberry is unknown. The county was formed in 1785 as a part of Ninety Six District, and the county seat is the city of Newberry. This part of the upcountry was settled largely by Scotch-Irish, English, and German immigrants in the mid-eighteenth century. Germans were so prevalent in part of Newberry County that it become known as Dutch Fork, with Dutch meaning Deutsch (German). Large scale cotton farming replaced small farms in the nineteenth century, and the coming of the railroad made Newberry a leading cotton market. Historians John Belton O'Neall (1795-1863) and David Duncan Wallace (1874-1951) were Newberry County natives, as was governor and U. S. SenatorColeman L. Blease (1868-1942).
Oconee County takes its name from an Indian word. It was formed in 1868 from Pickens District, and the county seat is Walhalla. This area in the northwest corner of the state on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains was home to the Cherokees, but the Indians gave up their lands in treaties signed in 1777 and 1816. After the American Revolution, settlers from other parts of the state began moving in, including the Germans from Charleston who founded the town of Walhalla in 1850. In 1856 work began on a tunnel for the Blue Ridge Railroad that would have linked Charleston with Knoxville, Tennessee, but the Civil War ended that project; the unfinished Stumphouse Tunnel can still be seen today. Several Revolutionary War heroes moved to present day Oconee County after the war, including Andrew Pickens (1739-1817), Robert Anderson (1741-1813), and Benjamin Cleveland (1738-1806).
Orangeburg County and its county seat, Orangeburg, were named for William IV (1711-1751), Prince of Orange, the son-in-law of King George II. The name was first used in the 1730s for a township on the Edisto River. Orangeburg District was established in 1769, and from 1785 to 1791 it included four counties: Lexington, Orange, Winton, and Lewisburg. The district was reduced in size when Barnwell (1800) and Lexington (1804) districts were formed; parts of Orangeburg also went to form Aiken (1871) and Calhoun (1908) counties. Swiss and German farmers moved into this region around 1735, and English settlers from the lowcountry followed. The battle of Eutaw Springs was fought there during the Revolutionary War on September 8, 1781; it was the last major battle of the war in South Carolina. Large plantations using slave labor were established in Orangeburg in the nineteenth century, and the county became a major producer of cotton. Railroads arrived in the area early; Branchville became the first railroad junction in the state in 1840. Union troops under General Sherman passed through Orangeburg in February 1865. In more recent times, on February 8, 1968 Orangeburg was the site of an incident commonly referred to as the Orangeburg Massacre, in which three South Carolina State College students were killed by state police during a civil rights protest. Orangeburg County was the birthplace of historian Alexander S. Salley (1871-1961) and singer Eartha Kitt.
Pickens County was named for Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens (1739-1817). The county seat is the town of Pickens. This area in the northwestern corner of the state was Indian territory until 1777. It subsequently became part of Pendleton District (at one time called Washington District). In 1826 Pendleton was divided into two counties, Pickens and Anderson; the western portion of Pickens County was later split off to form Oconee County (1868). The earliest European settlers in this region were Indian traders. The British built Fort Prince George around 1753 as protection against the Indians, and the fort was the site of several battles in the Cherokee War of 1760-62. The Cherokee town of Old Seneca was later destroyed by American troops in 1776. John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), United States vice president, senator, and cabinet member, made his home at Fort Hill plantation in Pickens County. His son-in-law, Thomas Green Clemson (1807-1888), bequeathed the plantation to the state for use as an agricultural college, which led to the founding of Clemson University.
Richland County was probably named for its "rich land." The county was formed in 1785 as part of the large Camden District. A small part of Richland later went to Kershaw County (1791). The county seat is Columbia, which is also the state capital. In 1786 the state legislature decided to move the capital from Charleston to a more central location. A site was chosen in Richland County, which is in the geographic center of the state, and a new town was laid out. Columbia subsequently became not only the center of government but an important trade and manufacturing center. Cotton from the surrounding plantations was shipped through Columbia and later manufactured into textiles there. Columbia is also known for its educational institutions,particularly the University of South Carolina, which was founded in 1802. General William T. Sherman captured Columbia during the Civil War, and his troops burned the town on February 17, 1865. The U. S. Army returned on more friendly terms in 1917, when Fort Jackson was established. Confederate general, governor, and United States senator Wade Hampton (1818-1902) was a resident of Richland County, and President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) lived in Columbia as a boy. Other prominent residents include artist William Harrison Scarborough (1812-1871), poets Henry Timrod (1829-1867) and James Dickey (1923-1997), civil rights leaderModjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992), religious leader Cardinal Joseph Bernardin(1928-1996), and astronaut Charles Bolden.
Saluda County was named for the Saluda River, which forms one of its borders. The county was estabished in 1895 from part of Edgefield County, and the county seat is the town of Saluda. The Cherokee Indians lived in this area for many years. In 1755 they signed a treaty with the British at their settlement, known as Saluda Old Town. Scotch-Irish and English settlers subsequently began moving into the area, while the Cherokees moved farther to the north. Two famous heroes of the Alamo, William Barrett Travis(1809-1836) and James Butler Bonham (1807-1836) were natives of what is now Saluda County.
Spartanburg County and its county seat, the city of Spartanburg, were named for the Spartan Regiment, a local militia unit that fought in the Revolutionary War. The county was formed in 1785 as a part of Ninety Six District, and from 1791 to 1799 it was part of Pinckney District. A part of Spartanburg County later went to form Cherokee County in 1897. European settlers, primarily Scotch-Irish, began moving into this area from Pennsylvania and Virginia in the late eighteenth century. For many years the primary occupations were small scale cattle raising and cotton farming. Areas with mineral springs, such as Glenn Springs, were also popular summer resorts for lowcountry residents. Following the Civil War, textile manufacturing became the dominant industry, and Spartanburg County remains an important manufacturing center today. Some well known Spartanburg residents are hymn writer and publisher William Walker (1809-1875), Army general William C. Westmoreland (1914-2005), and industrialist Roger Milliken.
Sumter County and its county seat, the city of Sumter, were named for Revolutionary War general Thomas Sumter (1734-1832), who was a resident of the area. This county has changed its name and boundaries several times. In 1785 Claremont County was formed as a part of Camden District; a part of the county was later split off in 1791 to form Salem County. Claremont, Clarendon, and Salem counties were combined into Sumter District in 1800. Clarendon was once again split off in 1857 and another small part of Sumter County went to form Lee County in 1902. This part of the state began attracting English settlers from the lowcountry and from Virginia in the mid-eighteenth century. The area known as the High Hills of Santee, a narrow ridge along the Wateree River, was famous for its healthy climate and rich soil. Sumter County eventually became a leading agricultural region. During the Civil War, General Edward Potter's Union troops raided the area, and a skirmish was fought at Dingle's Mill on April 9, 1865. In 1941 Shaw Air Force Base was established near Sumter, and it continues today as an active duty fighter base. Confederate general Richard Heron Anderson (1821-1879) was a Sumter resident, as were opera singer Clara Louise Kellogg (1842-1916) and educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955).
Union County was named for the old Union Church, which served both the Presbyterian and Episcopal congregations in the area. The church was erected in 1765 near the present day town of Union, the county seat. Union County was created as a part of Ninety Six District in 1785. It was part of Pinckney District from 1791 to 1800 and became a separate district when Pinckney was dissolved in 1800. The upper part of the county later went to form Cherokee County in 1897. The early settlers in this area were mainly Scotch-Irish from Virginia and Pennsylvania, who began immigrating to the South Carolina upcountry in the 1750s. Much fighting took place here during the Revolutionary War, including the battles of Musgrove's Mill (August 18, 1780) and Blackstocks (November 20, 1780). Revolutionary leaders Thomas Brandon (1741-1802) and Joseph McJunkin (1755-1846) were from Union County, as were Confederate generals States Rights Gist (1831-1864) and William Henry Wallace (1827-1905). Secession governor William Henry Gist(1807-1874) made his home at Rose Hill Plantation in Union County, now a state park.
Williamsburg County was probably named for King William III of England (1650-1702). Scotch-Irish and French Huguenot settlers began moving into this part of the lowcountry around 1732, and in 1736 the township of Williamsburg was laid out on the Black River in the vicinity of the settlement of Kingstree. This area was part of Prince Frederick Parish, which in turn was part of Georgetown District. In 1804 Williamsburg became a separate district, with the seat at Kingstree. A small part of Williamsburg later went to form Florence County in 1888. During the Revolutionary War many of General Francis Marion's men hailed from this area, including Major John James (1732-1791). The battles of Black Mingo (September 28-29, 1780), Mount Hope Swamp (March 1781), and Lower Bridge (March 1781) were all fought in Williamsburg County. In later years the county has remained primarily an agricultural region. Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Joseph L. Goldstein grew up in the town of Kingstree.
York County and its county seat, the city of York, were named for York County, Pennsylvania. The county was first established in 1785 as part of Camden District. From 1791 to 1800 it was part of Pinckney District, and it became a separate district when Pinckney was dissolved in 1800. Part of the county went to form Cherokee County in 1897. When European settlers arrived, this part of the state was inhabited by the Catawba Indians. The Catawbas signed a treaty with the English in 1763, relinquishing their rights to much of their land. This treaty opened up the area to Scotch-Irish settlers moving down from Pennsylvania and up from the lowcountry. In later years the Catawba reservation was greatly reduced in size, but recent legal settlements have now restored many of the tribe's rights. The Catawba Nation is now the only federally-recognized Indian tribe in the state. Two battles were fought in this area during the Revolutionary War, Williamson's Plantation (July 12, 1780) and Kings Mountain (October 7, 1780); the latter battle was a major victory for the Americans. Small-scale cotton farming was prevalent in the county in the nineteenth century, but textile mills became important in the twentieth century, contributing to the growth of the county's largest city, Rock Hill. Some well-known natives of York County are Revolutionary leader Colonel William Bratton (1742-1815) and writer Dori Sanders.