A History of Barnwell, South Carolina


Barnwell County Court House - Barnwell, South Carolina

James Brown, the noted entertainer, song-writer, and record producer was born in 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina. Brown, recognized as one of the most influential figures in twentieth century music, was a prime influence in the evolution of gospel and rhythm and blues into soul and funk, a genre he is associated with as its primary founder.



Barnwell County Court House - Barnwell, SC (2008)

In the exciting Reconstruction days when the white Democrats fought so valiantly to restore the state government to the whites, the county capital played hide and seek between the towns of Barnwell and Blackville. The present high school building was built in 1873 as the county court house. About this time the five members of the legislature from the county were black. Simon Coker, killed in the Ellenton Riot, was one of these.

So unsettled was the location of the county seat that the sheriff in advertising sales would say that they would be held at the court house, but named no town. Finally the location of the court house was left to a vote and Barnwell won by twelve votes.

There is an ancient sun dial in the Barnwell County court house yard - certainly the only one of its kind remaining in South Carolina.


As Barnwell Court House, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on July 1, 1805, and its first Postmaster was Mr. George Latham. In 1892, it's name was officially changed by the Post Office Department to simply Barnwell. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception in 1805.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved