Dorchester County, South Carolina Genealogy

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Guide to Dorchester County, South Carolina ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: St. George
Organized: February 25, 1897
Parent County(s): Berkeley County, Colleton County[1]
Neighboring Counties
Bamberg  • Berkeley  • Charleston  • Colleton  • Orangeburg
See County Maps
South Carolina, Dorchester County Courthouse.png
Location Map

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for its first settlement area, which was established by Congregationalists in 1696. These settlers applied the name "Dorchester" after their last residence in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The County is located in the southcentral area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Dorchester County Courthouse
5200 E. Jim Bilton Blvd
St. George, SC 29477
Phone: 843-563-0160
Dorchester County Website

County Pronunciation
Hear it spoken.[3]

Dorchester County, South Carolina Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1915 1911 1915 1897 1897 1897 1790
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1915. General compliance by 1918.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[7]

Unincorporated communities
  • Dorchester
  • Jedburg
  • Knightsville
Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Dorchester County, South Carolina online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See South Carolina Cemeteries for more information.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

For all existing and online Federal population schedules of South Carolina, see South Carolina Census. See also USGenWeb Census Project, South Carolina, including links to transcribed files.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 16,294
1910 17,891 9.8%
1920 19,459 8.8%
1930 18,956 −2.6%
1940 19,928 5.1%
1950 22,601 13.4%
1960 24,383 7.9%
1970 32,276 32.4%
1980 58,761 82.1%
1990 83,060 41.4%
2000 96,413 16.1%
2010 136,555 41.6%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church of England
Gotoarrow.png See also St. George Dorchester Parish

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

African Americans
United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png African American Resources for South Carolina
Known plantations South Carolina Plantations:

  • Archdale Hall - North Charleston
  • Bakers
  • Blake's Cypress
  • Branford's
  • Burton
  • Cedar Grove
  • Clear Spring
  • Corn Hill
  • Cow Savanna
  • Deerfield
  • Dorchester
  • Jack Savanna
  • Joseph Izard
  • Koger - Grover
  • Langleys
  • Middleton Place
  • Mount Boone
  • Newington - Summerville
  • Oak Forest
  • Oak Grove
  • Oaks
  • Oatland
  • Percival - also called The Ponds, Weston Hall
  • Perry
  • Pinckney Plains
  • Pine Hill
  • Pinehurst Tea - Summerville
  • The Ponds
  • Rose Hill
  • Sanders
  • Spell
  • Spring Farm - Summerville
  • Sumner
  • Tipseeboo
  • Tranquil Hill
  • Tugudoo
  • Wampee
  • Weston Hall
  • Windsor Hill

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Surname indexes to Leonardo Andrea's Files | Folders | Resources are available online, courtesy: The Andrea Files: South Carolina Genealogical Research. Gotoarrow.png Learn more.


Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Because South Carolina was an agricultural state, many residents owned land. For earliest records, search 1) Charleston District, 2) your ancestor’s residential district, 3) neighboring districts, 4) the residential county, 5) neighboring counties. Not all districts and counties kept records. See also South Carolina Land and Property.

Online Land Indexes and Records
The following chart show where you may best expect to find land records.

Tracing Land Currently in Dorchester County with Parent Counties and Districts[8]
Date Government Office
1897-Present Dorchester County
1882-1897 Berkeley County
1866-1882 Colleton County
1868-1882 Charleston County
1800-1865 Colleton District Records Lost
1710-1800 Charleston District
1670-1710 Proprietary Land Grants

Plats For State Land Grants 1784-1868
This series consists of recorded copies of plats for state land grants for the Charleston and the Columbia Series with their certificates of admeasurement or certification.All personal names and geographic features on these plats are included in the repository's On-line Index to Plats for State Land Grants
The South Carolina Constitution of 1790 required the surveyor general to maintain offices in both the new capital at Columbia and in Charleston. The surveyor general began to use separate volumes for recording plats in his Columbia office in 1796. Before that, all plats were recorded in the set of volumes begun in Charleston in 1784. After 1796, most plats for land grants in the Upper Division of the state were recorded and filed in Columbia. The surveyor general chose to make the Columbia volumes a continuation of the state plat volumes begun in Charleston and gave the initial Columbia volume the number thirty-six to correspond with the number of the volume that had then been reached in the Charleston series. As a result, there are volumes numbered thirty-six through forty-three from each office, but the records in them are not duplicative. Also included are the Plan Books containing Plats and Plans.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Dorchester County is named for its oldest town, Dorchester. In 1696, Congregationalists from Dorchester, Massachusetts settled the area and named the town after their home. The town of Dorchester was abandoned by 1788 but by then the name has been attached to the Parish of St. George Dorchester.[9] Learn more about the history of Dorchester County from the South Carolina State Library or from

  • Smith, Henry A.M. "The Town of Dorchester, in South Carolina: A Sketch of Its History," The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Apr., 1905), pp. 62-95. Digital version at JSTOR ($).

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Orangeburg CountyBerkeley CountyCharleston CountyColleton CountyBamberg CountySC DORCHESTER.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Early migration routes to and from Dorchester County for European settlers included:[10]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War

  • "Dorchester Its Mystery Fort," Americana, April 1933, Volume 27, Issue 2. American Historical Magazine Somerville, NJ. FHL Collection Book. 973 B2a.

Civil War

Regiments. Civil War service men from Dorchester County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were formed in Dorchester County or from many of its men.

- 5th Regiment, South Carolina Reserves (90 days 1862-63), Company I

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

The Library of Congress has identified the following historic newspapers for Dorchester County, South Carolina on their Chronicling America website. For publication details, including dates of publication, frequency, preceding and succeeding titles, and to find out which libraries have holdings, click on the newspaper title.

University of South Carolina Library Catalog

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Tap into the minds of local experts. Editors of genealogical periodicals publish unique sources that researchers new to their area may not encounter. Periodicals at various levels (county, region, and state) may carry articles useful to research in this area. For more information and links, see South Carolina Periodicals.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Various types of records are created throughout the probate process of settling estates and property, usually after death. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. For further information see probate records in South Carolina Probate Records.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Tax-related records are kept by the offices of the county Assessor, Auditor, Sheriff, and Treasurer. Taxes were levied on real and personal property and can help establish ages, residences, and relationships. See South Carolina Taxation for online resources and suggestions.

Online Tax Indexes and Records

  • South Carolina Department of Archives and History tax lists for Dorchester County.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriage, and death records were not recorded by South Carolina until the 1900s, thus leaving a lack of vital records created by Civil authorities. See South Carolina Vital Records for online resources and suggestions.

Birth[edit | edit source]

State-wide birth registration did not begin until 1915. For records after 1915, see the South Carolina Vital Records page.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

In South Carolina, Probate Courts issued and still keep marriage licenses from 1 July 1911 to the present. Licenses were not required before 1911. In the 1700s, the Church of England parish churches were required to record all marriages - even if the couple were not members of the denomination. Statewide registration of marriages started in July, 1950. See South Carolina Vital Records for indexes and more information.

Marriages - Indexes and Records

  • 1911-1957 Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Registers, ca. 1911-1957 [11] FHL Collection - records
  • 1918-1950 Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Licenses, ca. 1918-1950 [12] FHL Collection - records
  • There are several online marriage indexes containing miscellaneous marriage records found in some counties of South Carolina listed on the South Carolina Vital Records page.

Death[edit | edit source]

State-wide death registration began in 1915. For information and online records, see the South Carolina Vital Records page.

Deaths - Indexes and Records

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Dorchester County. For state-wide library facilities, see South Carolina Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Dorchester County. For state-wide library facilities, see South Carolina Archives and Libraries.

The Dorchester County Library provides services through two libraries and a bookmobile. Its catalog os powered by SClends which searches the libraries of multiple counties.

Jennie Johnston McMahan Library, St.George
506 North Parler Avenue
St. George, SC 29477
Telephone: (843) 832-0159
Fax: (843) 563-7823
Hours: Mon-Thursday 9:30am - 8:00pm, Friday 9:30am - 4:30pm, Saturday 9:30am - 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm - 5:00pm

George H. Seago, Jr. Library, Summerville

76 Old Trolley Road
Summerville, SC 29485
Telephone: (843) 871-5075
Fax: (843) 875-4811
Hours: Mon-Thu 10:00am - 8:30pm, Friday 10:00am - 6:00pm, Saturday 9:30am - 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Dorchester County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see South Carolina Societies.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. South Carolina Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, Dorchester County, South Carolina in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_South_Carolina." accessed 25/06/2019
  3. Voice of Phillip Stalvey, resident of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (2011).
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Dorchester County, South Carolina. Page 611-615 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 607-608.
  5. South Carolina Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), South Carolina .At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Dorchester County, South Carolina," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 23 December 2019.
  8. Schweitzer, George K. , South Carolina Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee: s.p. 1985), 39-42, FHL book 975.7 D27s
  9. South Carolina State Library, "Dorchester County".
  10. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002) WorldCat entry., and William E. Myer, Indian Trails of the Southeast. (Nashville, Tenn.: Blue and Gray Press, 1971), 12-14, and the book's pocket map "The Trail System of the Southeastern United States in the Early Colonial Period" (1923). (FHL Book 970.1 M992i) WorldCat entry.
  11. Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Registers, ca. 1911-1957, Salt Lake City, UT: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2002.
  12. South Carolina, Probate Court (Dorchester County), Dorchester County, South Carolina marriage licenses: (1 license each noted for the years 1880 and 1927), ca. 1918-1950, Salt Lake City, UT: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2001.