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South Carolina Archives
Series Description

State Plat Books (Columbia Series), 1796-1868  


CALL NUMBER:        S 213192

CREATOR: Surveyor General's Office.

TITLE: State plat books (Columbia series)

DATE: 1796-1868

VOLUME: 28.00 volumes, 6.00 microfilm reels, and 0.01 microfilm reel

ARRANGEMENT: Series arranged roughly chronologically by recording date.

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. It amended the act 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 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 This provision was repealed the following year, and the speculative mania that ensued was further encouraged by the remission of the purchase price.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.

The South Carolina Constitution of 1790 required the surveyor general to maintain offices in both the new capital at Columbia and in Charleston. The surveyor general began to use separate volumes for recording plats in his Columbia office in 1796. Before that, all plats were recorded in the set of volumes begun in Charleston in 1784. After 1796, most plats for land grants in the Upper Division of the state were recorded and filed in Columbia. The surveyor general chose to make the Columbia volumes a continuation of the state plat volumes begun in Charleston and gave the initial Columbia volume the number thirty-six to correspond with the number of the volume that had then been reached in the Charleston series. As a result, there are volumes numbered thirty-six through forty-three from each office, but the records in them are not duplicative.

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series consists of recorded copies of plats for state land grants with their certificates of admeasurement or certification. The 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, and bounty lands are generally so annotated.

Some entries contain the surveyor general's certification, others the deputy surveyor's certificate of admeasurement. The certification 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; date of survey; the authority under which the plat was drawn if other than the general land acts; 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. The deputy surveyor's certificate of admeasurement also gives the name of the commissioner of locations who issued the warrant and the date of the warrant.

This series contains some previously unrecorded colonial plats, largely dating from the 1770s. Most of these appear in volumes thirty-six and thirty-seven. In the microfilm edition of the series, the original plats or some other copy are substituted for a few missing pages in the volumes.

INDEX/FINDING AID: All personal names and geographic features on these plats are included in the repository's On-line Index to Plats for State Land Grants and in a thirteen reel computer output microfilm (COM) index that the repository produced in 1987 to accompany its Microcopy No. 10, South Carolina State Plats, 1784-1868. 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. In the computer output microfilm index the numeric code 0009 009 was used to designate this series.

Nineteenth century manuscript indexes (only to the names of the persons for whom the land was surveyed) are also available in the repository and on microfilm produced by the Genealogical Society of Utah. This series is described in more detail in the printed pamphlet that accompanies Microcopy No. 10.

ADDITIONAL FORM: Entire series, except for an early twentieth century transcript of volume forty-three (1811-1815), also available in the repository's Microcopy No. 10, South Carolina State Plats, 1784-1868. Some, but not all, of the volumes are also available on microfilm produced by the Genealogical Society of Utah. In addition, entire series also available in digital form on the repository's website. The images can be accessed through the On-line Records Index link on the Research and Genealogy webpage.

ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: Plats for large grants were recorded in a parallel series of Plan Books contained in series S 213212.  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 in this series are called "duplicate plats" because they are duplicate to the officially-recorded copies. Both the Charleston and Columbia duplicate plats are in the repository, but in the early years neither series parallels the volumes of recorded copies. The original surveys for land granted in the Upper Division from 1784 to 1796 (and even a few surveys for grants in the Lower Division) are filed with the Columbia series of these records even though there are no separate Columbia volumes until after 1796.

GENERAL NOTE: This series begins with a volume numbered 36; there are no volumes 1-35 in the series. The series includes a copy of volume forty-three (1811-1815), not reproduced on Microcopy No. 10, and a copy of volume fifty-six (1851-1855). Volume 58 contained in series S213195, Public Land Plat Books, Vol. 58.

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