Orange County, South Carolina


Years in Existence

County Seat


1785 - 1791


N/A - Abolished in 1791

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name


German Lutherans, English, Scots-Irish

William of Orange

A History of Orange County, South Carolina

Orange County was created within the overarching Orangeburg District in 1785 and subsequently abolished in 1791.

One of the first "new townships" established by Royal Governor Robert Johnson in his 1730 "Township Scheme," one of the townships was first called Edisto and it was laid out to encourage emigration into the interior. In 1735, Edisto Township was renamed Orangeburgh Township by its German Lutheran settlers. In 1769, Orangeburgh Township and Amelia Township were included within St. Matthew's Parish and into the newly-defined "overarching District" called Orangeburgh District by an Act of the General Assembly.

In 1778, Orangeburgh Township was separated from Amelia Township into its own Orange Parish. After the American Revolution, the newly-independent state of South Carolina renamed the district to Orangeburg District. The same Act created four newly-defined counties within the overarching Orangeburg District, and they were Lewisburg County, Lexington County, Orange County, and Winton County. Only Lexington County survived via another incarnation, the remaining three were abolished in 1791.

In 1769, Amelia and Orangeburgh Townships were formed into St. Matthews Parish. These religious-political divisions evolved into larger judicial districts which included Saxe-Gotha and helped preserve records and govern the growing population before and during the American Revolution. Soon after Independence, and the new American concept of separation of church and state, the overarching Orangeburg District was divided into four counties - Lexington, Lewisburg, Orange, and Winton - with the area of Amelia Township being called Lewisburg County. After the U.S. Civil War, a new state constitution abolished all parish election districts, including St. Matthews Parish, and the newly-incorporated town of Lewisville took the name of the first parish of the old area - St. Matthews. 
The first United States Census of 1790 contained no reference to Orange County. The overarching Orangeburg District was annotated within that census as having two identities - Orangeburg North and Orangeburg South. One might guess that Orange County would be included in Orangeburg North.
In 1791, another legislative Act was passed creating five "new" districts (counties) - Kershaw, Orangeburg, Pinckney, Spartanburg, and Washington. From 1791 to 1800, the "new" Orangeburg District/County was essentially exactly the same size and shape of the previous incarnations of the original 1769 overarching Orangeburgh District, which was renamed Orangeburg District in 1783 (dropping the "h").

In 1800, the state of South Carolina again re-introduced the "county" concept within the state - even though all "counties" would be called "districts" until after the U.S.. Civil War. However, the big change this time was that the old "overarching Districts" would never again resurface. In 1800, the old "overarching" Orangeburg District was split into half, the northern half retaining the name Orangeburg District (county), and the southern half being named the new Barnwell District (county). Both were much bigger in 1800 than they eventually ended up to be.

As of 1800, the "new and improved" Orangeburg District (county) included what are the present-day counties of: all of Calhoun, Orangeburg, and Lexington counties, and a good part of Aiken County. In the 1800 split, the "new" Barnwell District (county) included what are the present-day counties of: all of Bamberg, Allendale, and Barnwell counties, and a good part of Aiken County.

Although in 1800 the new Barnwell District/County was created, it was not included in the 1800 U.S. Census as a separately-defined entity. The 1800 U.S. Census for South Carolina used the same nomenclature as was used in the 1790 US Census - Orangeburg North and Orangeburg South.

As the 1800s continued, each of these "new" districts/counties (Orangeburg and Barnwell) were reduced in area, giving up lands to form newer counties as their populations grew, as described above.


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