Calhoun County, South Carolina
         
   

   

Year Established

County Seat

Population (2010)

1908

St. Matthews

15,175
 

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name

1736

Scots-Irish, Germans, French Huguenots

Statesman John Caldwell Calhoun
 

Other Significant Towns:

Fort Motte

Creston

Cameron

Lone Star

Amelia Township

Sandy Run

Staley Crossroads

-

Click Here - To see how Calhoun County evolved each decade - includes all the known towns and villages.

Click Here - To see the known battles/skirmishes in Calhoun County during the US Revolution.

A History of Calhoun County


Some Early Settlers of Calhoun County
by Susan S. Bennett
Published in The Proceedings of The South Carolina Historical Association, 1938

The earliest recorded settler of Calhoun County, and indeed, of Orangeburg District, was George Sterling, often recorded as Starland. In 1703, on the 15th of October, Sterling had a warrant for 500 acres of land in Berkeley County, "lying in the Congaree path, the bluff part of the swamp and part of the Level ground Over the Swamp", and on March 14, 1704, was granted 570 acres of land in Berkeley County, "Bounding on all sides not laid out." There is no certainty, however, that he himself ever lived on this land; certainly he did not live there long, as he died in 1706. His three sons, George, William, and John, inherited and some one of them occupied the land. William survived the other two and became sole heir. Sterling also had a daughter Mary.

In 1718, the first trading post at the Congarees was built near the present Granby, and Capt. Charles Russell, by recommendation of the Commissioner of Indian trade, was appointed Commandant and ordered to proceed into the country and to enlist men for the garrison. There is no complete list extant of these men, the names of but four being known. Richard Heatly married Mary Sterling in 1714. Heatly was a young Irishman, and is thought to have come over under Messrs. Gough & Co., promotors of the Cypress Barony, and to have settled on or near the lands of that Barony on Cooper River. From old records it would appear that Heatly having tried his hand unsuccessfully at turpentining, found himself in financial straits in 1719, for in that year he sold out his holding in the lowcountry and removed, with his wife and infant daughter Rachel, to the Congarees. Tradition says their son, William Heatly, was the first white child to be born in that section.

Rachel grew up and married John Lloyd of Buckhorn Hill. According to legend he swore that the devil came after him and he was only saved by the quick wits of his wife. She smelled something burning, and, looking under the table, noticed that one of the beautifully shod feet of the very stylish gentleman who had dropped in to dinner was scorching the floor. Seizing her Bible and calling upon her Maker, she began to read, whereupon the gentleman rushed from the house and disappeared, leaping over the river into Craven County, but leaving behind him on the rock the imprint of a hoof, a footprint and a buggy track, still visible 80 years ago.

It is possible, though not proved, that Richard Heatly was one of the men enlisted by Russell for the garrison. He died, however, shortly after reaching the Congarees, and by 1725, Mary, his widow, had married Captain Russell. By him she had five children, Charles, John, Joseph, Sophianisba, and Eugenia. Eugenia married Colonel William Thomson of Thomson's Rangers, and Sophianisba married John McCord of McCord's Ferry.

The garrison at the Congarees was discontinued in 1722, but the Russells remained in the mid-country. In 1725, Captain George Chicken, Commissioner of the Indian Trade, on an expedition to the Indian country, speaks of stopping at Capt. Charles Russell's, and again in 1730, Sir Alexander Cuming, ambassador to the Cherokees, accompanied by Col. Chicken and George Hunter the surveyor, stopped at Russell's on the Cherokee path near Amelia.. In 1731, or before, Capt. Russell had bought from William Sterling the original 570 acres granted George Sterling in 1704, with all buildings, etc. The deed is dated 1731. Owing to difficulties in getting to Charleston to record it, the actual sale may well have taken place some time before, for in 1725 one William Sterling is mentioned as of St. James Goose Creek. Russell evidently took over George Sterling's grant and the property thereon when he married Sterling's daughter. It was here that Sir Alexander visited him.

In 1734, Russell was justice of the peace and captain of the rangers; in this year he was appointed by Governor Johnson as agent for opening up and settling the three townships, Amelia, Saxe-Gotha, and Orangeburg. It was while he held this office that the first settlement of German-Swiss was made in Orangeburg District. In 1734, the Assembly decided to build one or more forts for the protection of the Indian trade. Until the forts could be buitl traders were required to bring their deer skins to some one of several officers, among them Capt. Charles Russell "at his plantation, on the South side of Santee River," and there to pay a tax of sixpence currency apiece; the receipts were to provide the money to build the forts. In the same year Russell received a special appointment as agent to the Cherokees, followed soon after by an express messenger requesting him to go on a special mission to the tribe. While on this mission Major Russell died, January 17, 1737.

The inventory of Russell's estate gives a vivid picture of the household equipment and domestic life of the well-to-do frontiersman: "87 head of cattle; 7 horses and colts; 6 beds and furniture; 5 tables and old carpett; 5 slaves; 3 old looking glasses [for trading with the Indians]; several Utencels for House Use; Iron Potts; Old Pewter; Sundries". The total value was £2185, 7sh. 6d. Thus Mary Russell was again left a widow, still living on the grant of 1704. She was evidently a woman of parts and determination, for being "left helpless and with a great many young children," on February 26, 1737, and again in December, 1737, she petitioned the Assembly, setting forth her husband's services to the Province, and the expenses to which he had been put in that service, and requesting that such monies should be refunded and due payment made for his services rendered. Her petitions were granted, and Mary Russell was paid "out of the Township Fund not only the £ per annum for the 22 months her husband acted in the Public Service, but also a further allowance for his extraordinary services therein."

Mr. Salley's History of Orangeburg County shows that Mrs. Russell's home was the center of family activities for the community, all marriages and baptisms being held there. Her home lay between St. Matthews and Creston, at the junction of the road to Moncks Corner and the road to Fort Motte and McCord's Ferry. On April 13, 1739, she was given a grant of 450 acres, over the Congaree, near McCord's Ferry in trust for her children. In 1751, she deeded this to her son Charles, Jr., as also a grant for 400 acres adjoining her plantation, the land granted to her father in 1704, where she had continued to live. She died in 1754 and was buried on her plantation. The inventory of her estate shows 16 working horses and mares; 138 head of cattle; sheep and hogs; corn, peas and wheat; 14 negroes and a conch to blow them in with; a full supply of plantation tools and necessaries; in the house a well-fitted kitchen, a "boofeet" and chest of drawers; 6 tables and 11 chairs; 8 beds and furniture; 8 tableclothes; a woman's saddle; even books; an old sword and surveyor's chain, evidently relics of her husband. The total was £3799, 17 sh. 6d. currency.

Charles Russell, Jr. and his brother John died without heirs. Their younger brother Joseph continued to live near the old place and left heirs of whom the writer knows nothing.

In all probability the first Huguenot family to ascend the Santee into the mid-country was that of Jerome LeBoeuf and his wife; with them were her four children by her first husband who was a Courtonne. In 1737, LeBoeuf settled on 500 acres just below Halfway Swamp. He was also granted "a Lott in the Town of Amelia, No. 176 on the Grand Platt." Later in 1762 and 1772, James Courtonne, jeweler of Charles Town, and his brother Jerome Courtonne, trader with the Cherokees, obtained grants in the same section, below Halfway Swamp on the Santee. The writer knows of no descendants.

But the real impress of the Huguenot Courtonnes on the community was through Marie Elise, who married William Heatly, only son of Richard Heatly and his wife, Mary Sterling. In 1756, William Heatly secured a grant on the Santee, just across Halfway Swamp from his wife's family. This is thought to have been the location of his home, spoken of in 1880 by his great-granddaughter Mrs. John R. Cheves, as "the old place on the Santee in St. Matthews Parish, later known as Heatly Hall."

William Heatly held various positions of responsibility in the district. After the capture of Nova Scotia by the British in 1755, the exiled Acadians were scattered among the Provinces, those sent to Charles Town being distributed among the five parishes. There they were bound out in service, their maintenance being a charge upon the community; any man neglecting this duty was to be fined. William Heatly was among those appointed to look after the welfare of the Acadians. In 1768, he is referred to as Major, doubtless of the militia, and later on as Colonel; but was too old for active service when the war came. He was on the Grand Jury at the Court of General Sessions in Orangeburg in 1776, and was one of the signers of the "Address to his Honour William Henry Drayton, Esq., Chief Justice of the Colony," in which they expressed their indignation against the late "King's Judges" and their refusal to hold court; and rejoiced in the new privilege of electing their own rulers and judges, and at the establishment of the Continental Congress.

From 1749 to 1757, church services for Amelia Township were held in the houses of Mary Russell, her son, Charles Russell, his half-brother, William Heatly, Colonel Moses Thomson, and Tacitus Gaillard. In 1757, a small chapel was built near by, which served till 1765, after which it went by the name of the "Old Church." In 1765, the townships of Amelia and Orangeburg were erected into the Parish of St. Matthew; and William Heatly, Moses Thomson, Tacitus Gaillard and others were appointed commissioners to build a church, chapel and parsonage house within the bounds of the parish.

William Heatly and his sons, Charles, William, and Andrew, all rendered service during the Revolutionary War. Charles and William, Jr., were both captains in Colonel William Thomson's Rangers, Charles later becoming Colonel. William, Jr. and Andrew both furnished supplies to the state troops.

William Heatly died in 1787. None of his sons left heirs. His daughters were Mary, married to Francis Goodwyn; Rachel to Edward Richardson; Elizabeth, first to Rev. Paul Turquand, second to the Rev. James O'Farrell; Sophia to Joseph Dulles; and Anne.

Anne Heatly married twice. Her first husband was Captain William Reid, by whom she had one son, Edmund. Edmund lived to manhood but died unmarried. Captain Reid was shot and killed in 1781 by his own men, as he was testing their alertness on guard by trying to pass his own lines without giving the word. Her second husband was James Lovell, Adjutant in Lee's Battalion of Light Dragoons in 1780, but after the war called Major Lovell. Lovell was apparently an out-and-out adventurer and soldier of fortune, his amusing story far too long to be included here. He had served in the north with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, had been imprisoned in the hulks with Allen, was at Fort Ticonderoga with Allen and Arnold, had come south with Lighthorse Harry Lee and married the wealthy Miss Heatly. He ran through her fortune and left, returning later, when, not finding things to his liking, he left her again. He outlived her by sixteen years and is buried in the family burying ground on Lang Syne plantation.

Anne Lovell evidently took after her grandmother, Mary Russell, and was a notable woman. When Major Lovell left her the first time she obtained from the legislature the right of "femme sole," a necessary legality to put a woman's affairs in her own hands. That was why the Major left her the second time. She conducted her affairs well and capably. She acquired by inheritance from her father, from her husband William Reid and their son, Edmund, and by inheritance and purchase from the estate of her brother Andrew, the lands which marched together, where she lived. These formed the tracts called Goshen and Lang Syne, left by her to Langdon Cheves, who had married her niece Mary Elizabeth Dulles. It is said that when the first railway in South Carolina was being laid out Mrs. Lovell objected to the plans, as the lines were to run through her plantations and her little negros would be frightened and in danger. She erected the family monument, still in existence, on the road from Creston to Elloree. Mrs. Lovell died in October, 1834, on her plantation.

The church of St. Matthew's Parish, built in 1765 of wood, was 30 x 40 feet. It stood down by Halfway Swamp near the Santee River; and the highway from Ox Creek (now Lyons), gave easy access from Mrs. Russell's neighborhood to her son's home, Heatly Hall, and its community of friends and relatives. Its first pastor was the Rev. Paul Turquand, of a Huguenot family refugeed to London about 1685. Old papers, still extant with the London descendants, say that among his ancestors was Jean Baptiste Morin, scientist and King's Astrologer, mentioned by Voltaire as having been present in Queen Anne's bedchamber at the birth of Louis XIV that the infant's horoscope might be cast at one.

Paul Turquand was born in London, educated at Winchester College, and came to America about 1753 and taught school at Georgetown, where he married Sarah Bond. He went back to England in 1766 and was ordained by the Bishop of London. While there he married his second wife, Mary Esom, who became the mother of three daughters: Martha who married Joseph McCord; Hannah who married Russell McCord; and Catherine who did not marry. The surviving manuscript sermons of the Rev. Paul Turquand are variously dated - St. Matthews, Amelia, Orangeburg Chapel - the location of the last being uncertain. The chapel was opened and the first sermond preached there on the 21st of April, 1767. Mr. Turquand also preached in St. Mark's Parish across Santee, as well as in many places in the lowcountry. He seems, however, to have lived near Mrs. Russell, his grant showing his holding of some 750 acres in her immediate vicinity. About 1774, he married his third wife, Elizabeth Heatly.

Turquand was an ardent supporter of the Whig cause, and preached the opening sermon for the Provincial Congress in 1775. He was one of the committee for St. Matthew's Parish appointed by Congress, January 14, 1775, for "Effectually Carrying into Execution the Continental Association." In fact, his feelings were so well known that, when in 1777-1778 the British came to occupy the state, it seemed wise that he remove himself before trouble came. This was especially the case as, being a clergyman of the Church of England, he could be rated as a crown officer and therefore doubly a traitor. So, with Colonel Tacitus Gailliard, known as "the Contumacious," and others, he left St. Matthew's and made his way to the Ohio River, thence down the Mississippi, to New Orleans. There they were allowed to remain provided they conducted no Protestant services, even in their own homes. Mr. Turquand acquiesced; but Colonel Gaillard, tradition says, true to his name, died in prison because he would not agree. Mr. Turquand stayed until it was safe for him to make the return trip across Alabama and Georgia in 1785, with only his negro servant for company. The manuscript journal of this trip was in the possession of his grandson David J. McCord, of Columbia, but was, unfortunately, lost many years ago, probably about 1865. Paul Turquand died in 1786. The site of his grave is unknown.

The church near Halfway Swamp was moved in 1825, reduced in size, and re-erected where it now stands near Lang Syne plantation. The land was given by Andrew Heatly, who also gave a handsome Bible and Book of Common Prayer. Anne Heatly Lovell gave the communion silver which is still in use. John McCord of Armagh, Ireland, first appears in the records on August 19, 1746, when with George Haig he witnessed a note of Thomas Brown in Charlestown. Haig and Brown were traders with the Catawba Indians. McCord is thought to have come down from eastern Pennsylvania; but this is conjecture. In 1748, he is mentioned as a Catawba trader, and in 1749 as having five slaves. Later he seems also to have traded with the Cherokees. He settled in Craven County, in the angle between the Congaree and the Wateree, abutting land belonging to Charles Russell. In 1751, he married Russell's sister, Sophianisba. By 1765, he owned upwards of 1,000 acres in this fork, including the site of McCord's Ferry. He was inquirer and collector of taxes for Saxe-Gotha, for the forks between the Congaree and Wateree, and adjacent places.

In 1766, by act of Assembly, a public road was opened which ran across what was commonly known as McCord's Ferry, McCord having vested rights in the ferry for fourteen years. He and John Russell were two of the commissioners in charge of maintaining the road from the ferry to Fishing Creek on the Catawba. He was also required to maintain a "good and sufficient ferry-boat and canoe with two ore more servants or negroes fit and necessary to carry all passengers, their servants, carriages, cattle and effects." The scale of fees included foot-passengers, single horse, man and horse, cattle, sheep and hogs. In time of alarm, or to persons going across to church, the ferry was free.

McCord was a captain in the rangers. He died in 1768. The family had the ferry rights until near 1800, by which time those crossing included four-wheeled carriages and horses, chair or cart with horse, and rolled hogsheads of tobacco.

The widow McCord apparently shared in the quality of her mother, Mary Russell, and was a woman of ability and action. She and her son, Captain John McCord of the militia and Lee's Legion, were ardent Whigs, and the ferry in 1780-1781 became known as a place where British officers and troops met trouble. The ferry-boat was always on the other side or out of commission; and if the British were obliged to spend the night, their horses always "strayed." Feeling being exceedingly bitter at that time between Whig and Tory neighbor against neighbor, in 1781 Mrs. McCord's house was burned with all it contained. Russel Paul McCord, her grandson, writing to the historian Draper, says that the British locked his uncle, William, then a slim lad, into the pantry, before they set fire to the house, but that he managed to make his way out of a window they had thought impossible small. William's brother, Russell, a boy of ten, took refuge in the cane-brake, and there lived in a hollow tree for some time after the burning. Mrs. McCord had previously been insulted by a local Tory, one Levi Smith. There was evidently provocation on both sides.

John McCord was undoubtedly one of those who, having been paroled, refused to accept service under the British, and joined General Sumter. His brohters, David, Joseph, and Russell, apparently did also, though the latter two were mere children. Mary McCord, who married Richard Brown, is spoken of as a very courageous woman, who assisted many Americans to escape from the British. The McCords and their ferry were thorns in the flesh of the occupying army.

There is much more that could be said, but time does not permit. Of these old people few descendants remain in the male line, the old names are no longer current in the old places; but their blood flows through many still in South Carolina and beyond. They have no cause to hang their heads because of their forebears - indeed much the reverse.


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.


Calhoun County, named for John Caldwell Calhoun, was formed of parts of Lexington and Orangeburg counties in 1908. The eastern and northern boundaries are the Congaree and Santee rivers. Its area is 391 square miles, divided into three distinct soil-types. The southern and southeastern parts are Coastal Plain type. The central is a narrow strip about seven miles wide, extending in a northeasterly direction, with characteristics of the Piedmont. The northwest, or upper, is the Sandhill section and extends almost to the fall line.

The population in 1920 was 18,380. The predominating citizenship has sprung from descendants of colonists from the northern part of Europe, who came to this section in 1732 and earlier. The forests yield turpentine and lumber. Along the streams are the hardwood forests. Nature soon reforests the cutover land. Woodland fires are rare.

Thirty-four miles of main line railroads furnish quick and easy transportation; the Southern from Charleston to Columbia; the Atlantic Coast Line from Augusta to Florence. The sand-clay roads are excellent and well maintained. Highway 2 from Columbia to Charleston passes through the county 26 miles, following the old stagecoach route, and on it is regular bus service. Highways 32 and 52, of the state system, are also important routes.

St. Matthews, the county seat, is a well-kept, well governed town of 1,780 inhabitants, 34 miles from Columbia and 92 from Charleston. Here are found stores; two banks, state and national; a school, the pride of the town; cotton gins; fertilizer plant; ice factory; bottling plant. There are four churches. Nine miles southeast is Cameron, an enterprising town, having beautiful homes and an excellent school. Fort Motte, named for the Revolutionary heroine, Rebecca Motte, is a shipping point for cotton and hardwood timber. So are Creston and Lone Star. At Lone Star is situated the Calsico Hardwood Lumber plant.

Calhoun has a fine system of public schools, with four accredited high schools. Motor buses carry children to the graded and high school.

Agriculture, dating from the early part of the Eighteenth century, began about 1895 to make great progress. The possibilities are rich for enterprising farmers. Prices for land vary from $10 to $100 an acre. With the advent of the destructive pests to cotton about five years ago, the farmers began to practice diversification, the varied crops and the excellence that marks their production proving their wisdom. With ample transportation facilities and near markets, diversified farming is just in its infancy.

The growing season, 230 days, is long enough to mature all crops. The average rainfall is about five inches a month, or 48 to 50 inches a year. Cotton is the "money crop", and practically all finances of the county are based upon it, but the soils will grow in paying quantities almost any staple and truck crop. The major crops besides cotton are corn, oats, soy beans, Irish and sweet potatoes, peas, peanuts, wheat, asparagus, and garden and orchard crops.

The county produces seeds for planting of high quality. W. W. Wannamaker, originator of "Wannamaker-Cleveland Big Boll," has excelled in his breeding work of this cotton. Calhoun County has no outstanding bond issue, and none is contemplated. Taxes are low.


Immediately above, published in "South Carolina: A Handbook," prepared by The Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industries and Clemson College, Columbia, South Carolina, 1927. Copyright not claimed. 

 


© 2013 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved