A History of Amelia Township, South Carolina

One of the early and important actions of the Royal Government was the Township Act of 1730; additional townships were authorized in 1761. The first Act authorized nine townships containing 20,000 acres each, and agents were sent to Europe to recruit families as settlers. The families were offered inducements such as free transportation to South Carolina, free provisions for one year, and free land. The townships neither created nor kept records; their functions were solely geographical. Townships, like parishes, were used for some tax districts and appeared as locators in grants and conveyances.


Amelia Township was established and first settled by Reformed Swiss in 1732. It was located on the south side of the Congaree River comprising most of what is present-day Calhoun County, South Carolina. In 1757, Amelia Township had perhaps 650 white settlers, with a militia totalling roughly 140 men, and the inhabitants were predominantly Swiss, German, and English.

For a "township" that had been created with 20,000 acres, Amelia Township never flourished. Most of those who opted for this location simply wanted large tracts of land and to be quite separated from their neighbors. During the Royal Period, Amelia Township never established any formal towns or permanent settlements where people congregated other than a church or two.

In 1768/9, the Royal Colony of South Carolina passed the District Act and eliminated all references to the old counties and townships with respect to governmental organization. The parishes remained intact, and even two new Parishes were established in 1768 - St. David's Parish and St. Matthew's Parish.

What had been Amelia Township was now part of the much larger Orangeburgh District and within the newly-established St. Matthew's Parish - both created in 1768/9, but the districts were not truly functional until around 1772, right before the American Revolution.

Immediately after the American Revolution, the newly-independent State of South Carolina redefined its internal districts in 1785 and recreated a new version of "counties" quite unlike the mostly-ambiguous and unsurveyed counties that existed prior to 1769. In 1791, South Carolina once again redefined its districts to now include the specific newly-created counties. In 1800, South Carolina decided to rename all existing counties as districts, and the larger term for district was now obsolete - no more aggregation of counties into a large "overarching" district.

During all of this, Amelia Township ceased to exist. Since no significant permanent towns were ever established in the 20,000 acre tract, the name Amelia disappeared, not even recognized in the current State of South Carolina. In the early 1800s, the town of St. Matthews was founded and it managed to survive and is still an active county seat for Calhoun County in South Carolina. It took its name from the last-named Parish for which Amelia Township was within in 1769 through to 1776. If you locate the town of St. Matthews in Calhoun County, South Carolina, you will now know where the heart of Amelia Township was prior to the American Revolution.



© 2011 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved