South Carolina Department of Archives and History


Maps Tracing the Formation of Counties in South Carolina

The links below are to maps illustrating the changing face of the state as new counties have been formed.

Proprietary Counties, 1682

In 1682, after the first hard years of settlement, the Proprietors ordered three counties laid out. Berkeley County, centering around Charleston, extended from the Stono River on the south to Seewee Creek (present-day Awendaw Creek) where it emptied into Bulls Bay on the north. Craven County lay north of Berkeley, and below Berkeley, Colleton extended to the Combahee River. Later, a fourth county, Granville, was laid out between the Combahee and the Savannah rivers.

Parishes of the Anglican Church

Throughout the colonial period, the small population and its limited legal needs kept most government, records keeping, and judicial activity confined to the municipal limits of Charleston. Parishes of the established Anglican Church served as election districts, and courts with jurisdiction over the entire colony sat in Charleston.

Districts, 1769-1784

Georgetown extended from the North Carolina line to the Santee. Charleston lay between the Santee and the Combahee. Beaufort sat between the Combahee and the Savannah. Northwest of Georgetown was the Cheraws District, bounded on the west by Lynches River; west of the Cheraws was the large district of Camden, bounded on the west by the river system of the Santee, Congaree, and Broad; south and west of Camden, two more large districts extended to the Savannah River--Orangeburg to the south, and Ninety-Six to the north.

Districts and Counties, 1785

The 1785 act gave the Cheraws District the counties of Chesterfield, Marlboro, and Darlington; it divided Camden District into York, Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Richland, Claremont, and Clarendon counties. It gave Ninety-Six District the counties of Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Abbeville, and Edgefield. And it divided Orangeburg District into Orange, Lewisburg, Lexington, and Winton (an early version of Barnwell) counties.

Districts and Counties, 1786-1790

In 1786, part of the unorganized Indian land, which had been taken from the Cherokee Indians during the American Revolution and lay northwest of Ninety-Six District, became Greenville County; in 1789, the remainder of the Indian land became Pendleton County. A few counties had been set out in the three Low Country districts of Georgetown, Charleston, and Beaufort, but there, where the old parish system was well established, the counties failed to take root.

Districts, 1791-1799

In 1791, the four Orangeburg counties were abolished, and two new districts were created. Washington District was formed to encompass the counties of Greenville and Pendleton. Pinckney District took York and Chester counties from Camden District, and Spartanburg and Union counties from Ninety-Six District.

Districts and Counties, 1791-1799

In 1791, Salem County was formed from portions of Claremont and Clarendon counties; and Kershaw County was formed from portions of Claremont, Lancaster, Fairfield, and Richland counties.

Districts, 1800-1814

In 1800, most of the counties were formed into districts. Washington, Pinckney Ninety-Six, Camden, and the Cheraws districts vanished, and the counties they had encompassed became districts. Claremont, Clarendon, and Salem counties became Sumter District. Marion District was formed from part of Georgetown, Colleton District from part of Charleston, and Barnwell District from part of Orangeburg. Georgetown yielded Horry District in 1801 and Williamsburg District in 1804. That same year, Lexington District was formed from Orangeburg with roughly the same territory as the old county of the same name.

Districts, 1815-1867

In 1826, Pendleton was divided into the two districts of Pickens and Anderson. In 1855, Clarendon District was taken from Sumter with the same boundaries as the old Clarendon County of 1785.

Counties, 1868-1870

The Constitution of 1868 stated that "the Judicial Districts shall hereafter be designated as Counties" and formed Oconee County from the western part of Pickens.

Counties, 1871-1877

In 1871, Aiken County originated from parts of Orangeburg, Edgefield, Barnwell, and Lexington.

Counties, 1878-1907

In 1878, Hampton County emerged from part of Beaufort; in 1882, part of Charleston became Berkeley County; and in 1888, parts of Marion, Darlington, Williamsburg, and Clarendon merged to become Florence County. In 1895, Saluda County was created from part of Edgefield. In 1897, Bamberg emerged from Barnwell; Cherokee from parts of Spartanburg, Union, and York; Dorchester from Berkeley and Colleton; and Greenwood from parts of Abbeville and Edgefield. In 1902, Lee emerged from parts of Darlington, Kershaw, and Sumter.

Counties, 1908-1915

Calhoun emerged in 1908, from parts of Orangeburg and Lexington; Dillon, in 1910, from Marion; Jasper, in 1912, from Beaufort and Hampton.

Counties, 1916-Present

McCormick emerged in 1916 from Edgefield, Abbeville, and Greenwood; and Allendale, South Carolina's last county, emerged in 1919, from Barnwell and Hampton.


SCDAH Website  ||  Summary Guide  ||  SCArchCat  ||  Online Records Index  ||  SC Electronic Records Archive  || Research Questions

For information on our search room services, please contact our research desk at 803-896-6104 or submit a
research request.

Please include your complete postal address in your electronic correspondence to us.