Old South Carolina State Road

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The Old South Carolina State Road connected the colonial seaport of Charleston with several important internal South Carolina towns as well as the Catawba Trail and Old Cherokee Path on South Carolina's northern border near Landrum in Spartanburg County. Charleston was the largest European settlement in South Carolina, its capital, on the King's Highway, and the start of several other trails. The Catawba Trail connected the Old South Carolina State Road to Asheville, North Carolina and to the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap from Virginia and Tennessee into Kentucky. The Old Cherokee Path connected the Lower Cherokee Indian villages in South Carolina and Georgia with several Indian trails, especially the Great Valley Road an important migration route through Virginia to Tennessee. The Old South Carolina State Road was opened to European settlers in 1747. The Old South Carolina State Road began in Charleston County, South Carolina Genealogy and ended near Spartanburg County, South Carolina Genealogy. The exact route is uncertain and may have varied over the years. The length of the road was about 180 miles (290 km).[1]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

From the first contact with Europeans the Cherokee Nation had settlements called the Lower Cherokee Villages in the northwest part of South Carolina and part of Georgia. The most prominent was the town of Keowee. Several important Indian trails radiated out from these villages. These trails would eventually become migration routes for European settlers. The Cherokee resisted most European settlement near their villages. The Cherokee sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War. By 1777 Patriot forces attacked and drove the Cherokee from South Carolina. Patriot veterans soon began to settle in former Cherokee areas.

Charleston was founded in 1670 by English and African immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. It became the largest city and capital of the South Carolina colony. Many trails and roads radiated out from Charleston. In 1747 the Old South Carolina State Road was opened and settlers began pouring north along it into the interior. In 1753 the British colony of South Carolina built Fort Prince George across the river to the east of the Cherokee town of Keowee. It is likely that a branch of the Old State Road went to Fort Prince George.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.

Route[edit | edit source]

The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail (south to north) as follows:[2]

  • Charleston 1670 by English and African Barbadians
  • Dorchester 1696 by New Englanders from Massachusetts
  • Orangeburg 1731 by Reformed Swiss, German Lutherans, and French Huguenots
  • Calhoun 1730s by Scots-Irish (that is Ulster-Irish), Germans, and French Huguenots
  • Lexington 1730s by Germans, and French Huguenots
  • Newberry 1750s by Germans, English, and Scots-Irish
  • Laurens 1753 by Scots-Irish
  • Spartanburg 1755 by Scots-Irish
  • Greenville 1777 by Scots-Irish, and Revolutionary War Veterans
  • Pickens 1753 by English, and Scots-Irish
  • Oconee 1784 by Germans, and Revolutionary War Veterans

There are three possible routes the Old South Carolina State Road may have taken to exit the state.[3] Over the years the route may have shifted:

Connecting trails. The Old South Carolina State Road linked to other trails at each end. Other trails also crossed it in the middle.[4]

The migration pathways connected at the south end in Charleston included:

The migration pathways connected at the north end near Spartanburg County, South Carolina Genealogy included:

The possible fork that went to Tugaloo, Stephens County, Georgia Genealogy would have connected to the following trails in that area:

Between those ends the Old South Carolina State Road also crossed several other important migration routes:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Old South Carolina State Road start in Charleston, South Carolina. Take Interstate 26 west (that is north) to Goose Creek. From Goose Creek follow U.S. Route 176 northwest to Henderson, North Carolina.

Settlers and Records[edit | edit source]

The Old South Carolina State Road from Charleston to Orangeburg was part of earlier routes and already well-traveled by the time the State Road opened in 1747. Settlers who came via Charleston may have arrived by sea, or by the King's Highway. Some later settlers may have joined the State Road at its junction with the Fall Line Road near Columbia. Especially the Ulster-Irish in the old Ninety-Six District used the State Road to reach early settlements in what became Newberry, Laurens, Union, Spartanburg, and Greenville counties east of the Cherokee Villages. Once the Cherokee left what became Pickens and Oconee counties during the Revolutionary War, in 1777 veterans of that war began settling on Cherokee land and probably used part of the Old South Carolina State Road to help get there.

No complete list of settlers who used the Old South Carolina State Road is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that trail may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after 1747 and therefore who were the most likely candidates to have traveled the Old South Carolina State Road.

For partial lists of early settlers who may have used the Old South Carolina State Road, see histories like:

in Newberry County, SC:

in Union County, SC:

in Spartanburg County, SC:

  • J.B.O. Landrum, History of Spartanburg County: Embracing an Account of Many Important Events and Biographical Sketches of Statesmen, Divines and Other Public Men and the Names of Many Others Worthy of Record in the History of Their County, 2 vols. (1900, reprint; Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, c1991) (FHL Book 975.729 H2L 1991) WorldCat entry.

in Greenville County, SC:

  • James M. Richardson, History of Greenville County, South Carolina: Narrative and Biographical (1930, reprint; Greenville, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1993) (FHL Book 975.727 D3r 1993) WorldCat entry.

in Oconee and Pickens counties, SC:

  • Frederick Van Clayton, Settlement of Pendleton District, 1777-1800 (Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, c1988) (FHL Book 975.72 W2c) WorldCat entry. The old Pendleton District embraced the present counties of Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens. Includes plats and their owners taken from the "State Record of Plat Books."

in Polk County, North Carolina:

  • D. William Bennett, Polk County, North Carolina, History (Tyron, NC: Polk Co. Hist. Assoc., ©1983.) WorldCat entry.

in Stephens County, Georgia:

External Links[edit | edit source]

  • Adam Prince, 1920 State Trunk Routes - An Overview describes Trunk Route 2 as the "Old State Road." The route included Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville, but where it exited South Carolina is "unclear." Various possibilities described include routes via Landrum, Travelers Rest, and Seneca.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 852. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. South Carolina - The Counties, http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/sc_counties_alphabetical_order.html (accessed 8 April 2011).
  3. Adam Prince, 1920 State Trunk Routes - An Overview, http://www.gribblenation.com/scroads/state/1920.html (accessed 10 April 2011).
  4. 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.
  5. "South Carolina Counties and Parishes - 1740" in The Royal Colony of South Carolina at http://www.carolana.com/SC/Royal_Colony/sc_royal_colony_counties_parishes_1740.html (accessed 22 April 2011).
  6. Lowell Kirk, "The Unicoi Turnpike" at http://www.telliquah.com/unicoi.htm (accessed 3 May 2011).