South Carolina Archives
Series Description

Plan Books, 1784-1873  


CALL NUMBER:        S 213212


CREATOR: Surveyor General's Office.

TITLE: Plan books 

DATE: 1784-1873

VOLUME: 4.00 volumes

ARRANGEMENT: Some recordings seem to be roughly alphabetical, but there is little order to the arrangement of these volumes.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: The General Assembly created the post-revolutionary land grant system with S.C. Statute 1784(4)590, An Act for Establishing the Mode and Conditions of Surveying and Granting Vacant Lands Within this State. The act was amended twice in 1785 and again in 1786. These acts provided for the purchase of vacant land at a price of $10 per hundred acres and allowed the holders of treasury indents for unpaid Revolutionary War debts to use them as legal tender. S.C. Statute 1784(4)647 provided that bounty lands promised to officers and men of the South Carolina Continental Line, three independent companies, and officers of the South Carolina Revolutionary Navy were to be granted and recorded free of the usual office fees.

The legislature abolished the purchase price for land in 1791. Thereafter grants were issued upon payment of the office fees. The 1784 act had prohibited grants larger than 640 acres. This provision was repealed the following year, and the speculative mania that ensued was further encouraged by the remission of the purchase price. Despite legislative attempts in 1787, 1793, and 1794 to restrict the size and number of grants, many very large tracts were granted in the 1780s and 1790s.

To accommodate citizens of the backcountry, the 1784 act  created a new office, the commissioner of locations, in each of the seven court districts of 1769 and authorized the surveyor general to appoint as many as six deputy surveyors in each district. After 1801 there was a commissioner of locations for each of the greatly expanded number of circuit court districts, and after 1839 the clerks of court became ex officio the commissioners of locations. The commissioner of locations received the petition for survey and issued the warrant to a deputy surveyor. The plats were initially recorded by the commissioners of locations before being forwarded to the surveyor general. 

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series consists of three oversize volumes containing recordings of plats and plans. Plan Books 1 (now bound in two parts) and 2 consist largely of plats for state land grants, most of them for large acreages. Plans of towns and villages, resurveys, and other miscellaneous recordings are also included. Most of the other volume in the series, Plans and Grants AA, is a copy of pages 1-202 of Plan Book 1. The remainder of the volume contains fourteen plats for marshland in Beaufort County,  1869-1873, and three other miscellaneous plats. 

Plats are scale drawings and show the scale to which they were drawn; acreage; boundaries; boundary markers; natural features; improvements, if any; and the names of surrounding landowners. Roads, creeks, branches, swamps, and the like are named.

The plats for land grants include the surveyor general's certification, which gives the names of the prospective grantee and, where applicable, the person for whom the land was originally surveyed; the location by district and more specific locators such as relationship to a particular river, road, or other landmark; acreage; the date of certification; and the names of the deputy surveyor who drew the plat, the surveyor general or deputy surveyor general who certified it, and the surrounding landowners. Certifications on resurveys give the names of the persons requesting the survey, previous owners, and sometimes the reason for the resurvey. 

INDEX/FINDING AID: Plan Books 1 and 2 in this series are indexed in the repository's On-line Index to Plats for State Land Grants. All personal names and geographic features on these plats are included. Plantation names are indexed as topics, and the topical term marshlands was used when the plat indicated the granting of marshland. Names of surveyor generals certifying plats and of commissioners of locations issuing warrants are excluded from the every-name indexing, but the surveyors who actually drew the plats are included. 

Index entries for Plan Book 1 and for Plans and Grants AA are also present as  manuscript added entries in the four-volume nineteenth century index to State Plat Books (Charleston Series), 1784-1860.                                                         

ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: The bulk of plats for state land grants are recorded in two parallel series of volumes, State Plat Books (Charleston Series) and State Plat Books (Columbia Series). The repository has microfilm copies or originals of many of the recorded plat books of the commissioners of locations as well as a few of the books in which they recorded warrants. The original surveys forwarded to the surveyor general for recording are called "duplicate plats" because they are duplicate to the officially recorded copies. Both the Charleston and the Columbia duplicate plats are in the repository; docketing on some of these original surveys cite their recording in "Plan Book" and "Plan Book Vol. II."               

HIERARCHICAL NOTE: Forms part of the records of the Surveyor General's Office of the Secretary of State.