Lancaster County, South Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

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Population (2020)



Lancaster County, PA


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1750s / Scots-Irish from PA & VA

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Coming Later

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Airports in Lancaster County

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A History of Lancaster County

Andrew Jackson State Park - Lancaster County, South Carolina

Lancaster County and its county seat of Lancaster were named for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The county was formed in 1785, and it was originally part of Camden District. A part of Lancaster County was removed in 1791 to form Kershaw County. Scots-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania began moving into this upstate region in the 1750s. The Waxhaws settlement on the border with North Carolina was the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). During the Revolutionary War, British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton earned his nickname of "Bloody Ban" Tarleton by massacring American troops at the Waxhaws on May 29, 1780; the battle of Hanging Rock was also fought in the county later the same year. Although Lancaster County has been primarily agricultural, gold mining began here in the 1820s and textile manufacturing sprang up following the American Civil War. Governor and U.S. Senator Stephen Decatur Miller (1787-1838), surgeon J. Marion Sims (1813-1883), industrialist Elliott White Springs (1896-1959), and astronaut Charles M. Duke, Jr. were all Lancaster County residents.
Originally inhabited by the Catawba and Waxhaw Indians, Lancaster County’s story began in the early 1750s when a vanguard of Scots-Irish immigrants seeking inexpensive land and religious freedom moved into the area known as the Waxhaws, (now northern Lancaster County) and established a settlement. A second colony was soon developed by English (Welsh), German, and Scots-Irish newcomers from Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania in southern Lancaster County.

Lancaster County’s name can be traced from fifteenth-century England, when the War of the Roses was fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, through their first settlement in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and down to the county that was established in South Carolina in 1785, with the red rose, the insignia of the House of Lancaster, as its emblem.

Lancaster County abounds with landmarks of historical significance, and famous Lancastrians include Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States; Charles Duke, astronaut and moon-walker; Nina Mae McKinney, actress and Broadway star; Elliott White Springs, textile industrialist; and Dr. J. Marion Sims, who is known as the “father of modern gynecology.”

During the American Revolution, about ten miles east of Lancaster, a battle now known as Buford’s Massacre took place, in which British Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton devastated Colonel Abraham Buford’s retreating forces on May 29, 1780, killing or wounding almost all of the 350 Patriots. On August 6, 1780, the colonists were avenged when troops under the leadership of Colonel Thomas Sumter surprised and defeated the British at the battle of Hanging Rock, about three miles south of the Heath Springs area in the southern part of Lancaster County. Lancastrians at Hanging Rock included Major Robert Crawford and Major William Richardson Davie. Thirteen year old Andrew Jackson, serving as an aide to his kinsman Robert Crawford and to Major Davie, participated in his first warfare in this battle.

South of Heath Springs, the first court for Lancaster County was held in the home of John Ingram; closer to present-day Lancaster, a log court house was built in 1795; a second court house was constructed in 1802 and the town was named Lancasterville. Built in 1828, the present court house was designed by the noted South Carolina architect, Robert Mills, of Washington Monument fame; in 1825, he had designed the Lancaster County Jail. Both are now national landmarks.

In 1865, as Union General William Tecmseh Sherman marched through Lancaster, attempts were made by his men to burn both the court house and the jail. Damage was not severe to either building, but many wills and other important papers were destroyed. The town was looted by the soldiers, who stabled their horses in the sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church, which had been built in 1862, while in the area.

The establishment of Lancaster Cotton Mills in 1895 by Colonel Leroy Springs brought the Industrial Revolution to Lancaster. Textiles have remained an important industry to the local economy.

Town of Heath Springs

In the early 1800s, the Hanging Rock Mineral Spring became well-known for its “healing, bubbling springs” and in the 1850s, the Hanging Rock Mineral Springs Inn began attracting people from many areas seeking the healthful mineral spring waters. Though General Sherman’s soldiers destroyed the inn, the area around the spring, known as the Heath Spring after its new owner, had begun to grow, and eventually a post office originally called the Heath Spring Post Office was established. Later a business firm from Lancaster opened in the area—the Heath Springs and Company, and in 1890, the town of Heath Springs was incorporated, and the post office soon changed its name to Heath Springs Post Office.

Today, the town of Heath Springs includes approximately 900 residents. Main Street is going through the Streetscape program, and a variety of businesses, including a local bank and post office, along with several medical offices, commercial ventures and industries, serve the Heath Springs area.

Town of Kershaw

In 1887, the Southern Railroad, largely due to the efforts of Pleasant Plains resident James Welsh, established a station halfway between Camden and Lancaster. The area developed and was soon known as Welsh’s Station, but in 1888, Captain Welsh headed the movement to apply for a charter of incorporation for the new town whose name would be Kershaw, in honor of Major General J.B. Kershaw, a Camden attorney who participated in some of the most famous battles of the Confederate War and was taken prisoner of war in Massachusetts. After the war, he was elected to the State Senate; later he became a U.S. Congressman, and in 1874 he was appointed Judge of the Fifth Circuit, an office he held until his death in 1894.

In the early 1900s, Kershaw flourished with many retail stores, as well as several commercial and industrial businesses. Located three miles from the town, Haile Gold Mine was at one time rated as the largest producer of gold east of the Appalachian mountains, with gold being poured at the rate of $1,000 worth daily. Continuing in operation today, mica is now mined there.

Close to 1,800 persons reside in the town of Kershaw, according to the 2010 census.

Scots-Irish seeking religious freedom in America and stopping first in Pennsylvania, later moved to and settled in the Waxhaw district of South Carolina and in 1785 Lancaster County, the name traceable to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and further back to England, was organized.

Situated in the Piedmont Plateau and running to the North Carolina line, the Catawba River borders Lancaster 40 miles on the west and on its banks have been built gigantic hydroelectric plants, part of the Duke or Southern Power company interests. The county's area is 515 square miles and population, 1920. was 28,628, estimated 1925 at 29,749. The soil is well adapted to agriculture, cotton being the chief crop. The county has a magnificent granite quarry; also brick clay, pyrite, and gold deposits.

The textile industry has had remarkable development in the last 30 years, the pride plant being the Lancaster Cotton mills, known all over the United States for the excellent quality of its print cloths, organized in 1896 by Col. Leroy Springs, then and now president, and W. C. Thomson, treasurer. F. G. Cobb is general manager. Beginning with 10,000 spindles the plant now has 140,000 and is one of the largest mills under one roof in the world.

At Kershaw one of the most successful mills in the country was organized in 1913 with Col. Leroy Springs, president, John T. Stevens, vice-president, and J. M. Carson, treasurer, with 10,000 spindles, now grown to 25,000. The Catawba Fertilizer company, Lancaster Cotton Oil company, and Kershaw Cotton Oil company, of which John T. Stevens has been president since their organization, are other industries.

The county has seven banks. The Southern Railway, Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and the Lancaster and Chester Railway, the last owned by local capital, with Col. Leroy Springs president, serve the county and have a mileage of 44. The splendid public school system has three accredited and three standard high schools. In the town of Lancaster three handsome brick school buildings have lately been erected.

Andrew Jackson, seventh president, was born in Lancaster County and is her most famous son. Another, J. Marion Sims, was one of the greatest surgeons the world has produced. Stephen D. Miller, a pre-Confederate war governor and United States senator, and James Blair, elected to Congress in 1833 after a brilliant fight against Calhoun's Nullification policy, are other sons of whom Lancastrians are justly proud.

The eye of a motorist approaching Lancaster, the county seat, is first attracted by the old colonial [?] court house, a gem of architecture, erected in 1823 and recently restored without change in its original beauty of line and symmetry.

Old Waxhaw Church and burying ground where lie Gen. William Richardson Davie, distinguished in civil, military, and diplomatic affairs, governor of North Carolina and founder of the University of North Carolina, and other of Lancaster's distinguished early citizens, is another interesting spot.

With unsurpassed climate, enterprising business spirit, and an atmosphere of Southern hospitality, Lancaster offers every inducement to the stranger seeking a home in the New Land of Opportunity-the Piedmont section of South Carolina.

Immediately above, published in "South Carolina: A Handbook," prepared by The Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industries and Clemson College, Columbia, South Carolina, 1927. In the Public Domain. [with minor edits]

Lancaster & Chester Railroad Company

In 1873 a special Act of the South Carolina General Assembly granted a charter to the Cheraw & Chester Railroad Company and provided: That the said company is hereby authorized to construct a railroad from Cheraw, in Chesterfield County, to Chesterville, in Chester County, by such route as shall be found most suitable and advantageous. Thus began the long and colorful history of the present day Lancaster & Chester (L&C) Railroad Company.

Click Here for much more history on the L&C Railroad. Link is current as of August 2005, December 2015, and December 2018.


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