Dorchester County, South Carolina Genealogy
Guide to Dorchester County, South Carolina Genealogy ancestry, family history and genealogy court records, deeds, maps, immigration, maps, military records, newspapers, obituaries, plantations, probate records, slaves, local archives, libraries, museums, churches, cemeteries, and Civil War records.
|Dorchester County, South Carolina|
Location in the state of South Carolina
Location of South Carolina in the U.S.
|Founded||February 25, 1897|
|County Seat||St. George|
- 1 County Information
- 2 County Courthouse
- 3 History
- 4 Places/Localities
- 5 Resources
- 5.1 Research Guides
- 5.2 African Americans
- 5.3 Cemeteries
- 5.4 Census
- 5.5 Church
- 5.6 Court
- 5.7 DNA
- 5.8 Family Histories
- 5.9 Land
- 5.10 Local Histories
- 5.11 Maps
- 5.12 Migration
- 5.13 Military
- 5.14 Newspapers
- 5.15 Periodicals
- 5.16 Probate
- 5.17 Taxation
- 5.18 Vital Records
- 6 Archives, Libraries, and Museums
- 7 Societies - Genealogical, Historical, Lineage
- 8 Family History Centers
- 9 Websites
- 10 References
Dorchester County, South Carolina Record Dates
Dorchester County's civil records start the following years:
Dorchester County Courthouse101 Ridge Street
St. George, SC 29477
Dorchester County Probate Court
5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd.
St. George, SC 29477
Probate and marriage records
Dorchester County Clerk of Court
5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd.
St. George, SC 29477
[[Image:Dorchestermassachusetts.jpg|thumb|right|250px|Neopanset River at Lower Mills, Dorchester, Mass. Dorchester County, South Carolina takes its name from the Massachusetts town of Dorchester.
[] 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. Learn more about the history of Dorchester County from the South Carolina State Library or from Carolana.com.
Parent County/Boundary Changes
- 1897 - Dorchester created from Berkeley and Colleton Counties.
- 1921 - Charleston gained from Berkeley and Dorchester Counties.
- 1977 - Dorchester gained from Charleston County.
For more information as well as maps of Dorchester County through time, see the South Carolina State Archives or For animated maps illustrating South Carolina county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation South Carolina County Boundary Maps" (1682-1987) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.
The county seat of Dorchester County is St. George.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
- South Carolina Archives Summary Guide: Dorchester County, available online, courtesy: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Known plantations South Carolina Plantations:
- Archdale Hall - North Charleston
- Blake's Cypress
- Cedar Grove
- Clear Spring
- Corn Hill
- Cow Savanna
- Jack Savanna
- Joseph Izard
- Koger - Grover
- Middleton Place
- Mount Boone
- Newington - Summerville
- Oak Forest
- Oak Grove
- Percival - also called The Ponds, Weston Hall
- Pinckney Plains
- Pine Hill
- Pinehurst Tea - Summerville
- The Ponds
- Rose Hill
- Spring Farm - Summerville
- Tranquil Hill
- Weston Hall
- Windsor Hill
|Tombstone Transcriptions Online||Tombstone Transcriptions in Print||List of Cemeteries in the county|
|Findagrave.com||Family History Library||Findagrave.com|
|See South Carolina Cemeteries for more information.|
|Source: "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.|
See South Carolina Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.
Church of England
See also St. George Dorchester Parish
This bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:
- Locate publications about direct ancestors
- Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
- Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors)
Surname indexes to Leonardo Andrea's Files | Folders | Resources are available online, courtesy: The Andrea Files: South Carolina Genealogical Research. Learn more.
- Dorchester County, SC Family History and Genealogy Message Board (Ancestry)
- Dorchester County, SC Genealogy Forum (GenForum)
Because of South Carolina’s history as an agricultural state many residents owned land. For more information about types of land records see South Carolina Land and Property.
Tracing records through South Carolina county and district changes can be difficult. In general, for earliest records begin by searching the Charleston District, then your ancestor’s residential district, then neighboring districts, then the residential county, then neighboring counties. Not all districts and counties kept records. The following chart shows where you may best expect to find land records for Dorchester County:
|1800-1865||Colleton District Records Lost|
|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.
- 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 ($).
Early migration routes to and from Dorchester County for European settlers included:
- "Dorchester Its Mystery Fort," Americana, April 1933, Volume 27, Issue 2. American Historical Magazine : Somerville, NJ. FHL Collection Book. 973 B2a.
- 1861-1865 - South Carolina Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- 1861-1865 - U.S., Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 at Ancestry — index (free)
- 1861-1865 - U.S., Union Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 at Ancestry — index (free)
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.
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.
- Dorchester County Record (St. George, S.C.) 1927-1934.
- Dorchester Eagle-Record (St. George, S.C.) 1934-current.
- The Dorchester Eagle (St. George, S.C.) 1899-1934.
- The Summerville Advertiser (Summerville, S.C.) 1909-1924.
- The Summerville Forester (Summerville, S.C.) 1927-1928.
- The Summerville Herald (Summerville, S.C.) 1884-1886.
- The Summerville Journal (Summerville, S.C.) 1972-1977.
- The Summerville News (Summerville, S.C.) 1888-1909.
- The Summerville Scene (Summerville, S.C.) 1946-1977.
- Summerville Journal-Scene (Summerville, S.C.) 1977-current.
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 this county, see:
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. For further information see probate records in South Carolina.
- Dorchester County, South Carolina estate records, ca. 1896-1950. Microreproduction of originial manuscripts at the South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.
- Abstracts of wills of Charleston District, South Carolina and other will recorded in the districts, 1783-1800. Compiled by Caroline T. Moore.
Online Probate Records
- 1670-1980 - South Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1670-1980 at Ancestry.com — index and images $
- 1671-1977 - South Carolina Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes 1671-1977 at FamilySearch — images
- 1732-1964 - South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers 1732-1964 at FamilySearch — images
- 1782-1866 - South Carolina, Will Transcripts 1782-1866 at findmypast — $, index
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, relationships, and the year an individual died or left the area. They can be used as substitutes for missing or destroyed land and census records.
- South Carolina Department of Archives and History tax lists for Dorchester County.
Birth, marriage, and death records were not recorded by South Carolina until the 1900s, thus leaving a lack of vital records. Substitute records, when available, are used to obtain this information. These substitute records including newspapers, court records have been added to this section, when applicable.
State-wide birth registration began in 1915. For a copy of a birth from 1915 or later, contact the South Carolina Department of Health. The Dorchester County Health Department also has copies but they provide only an abbreviated form with limited information. For more information, see the South Carolina Vital Records page.
- 1766-1900 - South Carolina, Delayed Birth Certificates, 1766-1900 at FamilySearch — images
In South Carolina, marriage licenses were not required by local governments until 1 July 1911. However, 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. Not all churches recorded these marriages and some have not survived. See South Carolina Vital Records for more information.
The Dorchester County probate court holds marriage licenses issued from 1 July 1911 to the present. Statewide registration of marriages began in July 1950 and the South Carolina Division of Vital Records has copies of licenses issued after 1 July 1950 through November 2009.
Newspapers are used as a substitute to locate marriage information. See South Carolina Newspapers.
Marriages - Indexes and Records
- 1911-1957 - Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Registers, ca. 1911-1957  FHL Collection - records
- 1918-1950 - Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Licenses, ca. 1918-1950  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.
State-wide death registration began in 1915. For a copy of the death certificates from 1915 or later, contact the South Carolina Department of Health. The Dorchester County Health Department only has copies for deaths occurring in the last 5 years. For more information, see the South Carolina Vital Records page.
Deaths - Indexes and Records
- 1915-1965 - South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965 at FamilySearch — index and images
- State-wide South Carolina Death Indexes. There are several online death indexes covering all of South Carolina listed on the South Carolina Vital Records page.
Archives, Libraries, and Museums
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
Societies - Genealogical, Historical, Lineage
Family History Centers
Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.
- Family History Centers in South Carolina
- Dorchester County, SC History, Records, Facts and Genealogy (Genealogy Inc)
- Dorchester County, SCGenWeb
- FamilySearch Catalog
- Dorchester County, South Carolina Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- South Carolina State Library, "Dorchester County".
- Voice of Phillip Stalvey, resident of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (2011).
- Schweitzer, George K. , South Carolina Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee: s.p. 1985), 39-42, FHL book 975.7 D27s
- 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.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."
- Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Registers, ca. 1911-1957, Salt Lake City, UT: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2002.
- 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.