South Carolina, United States Genealogy

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  South Carolina

Live oaks over E. Bay Street in Georgetown, SC.
Welcome to South Carolina, the Palmetto State

Most unique genealogical features:
  • Earliest colonists were from Barbados
  • Marriage registration began in 1911
  • Old districts affect research
  • From 1800 to 1868 Counties were called Districts
  • Admiralty Courts played a notable role

South Carolina Counties

Click on the map below to go to a county page. Hover over a county to see its name. To see a larger version of the map, click here.
Horry CountyDillon CountyMarion CountyGeorgetown CountyWilliamsburg CountyFlorence CountyDarlington CountyBerkeley CountyClarendon CountyDorchester CountyColleton CountyBeaufort CountyCharleston CountyHampton CountyBamberg CountyAllendale CountyJasper CountyBarnwell CountyAiken CountyEdgefield CountySaluda CountyGreenwood CountyMcCormick CountyAbbeville CountyOconee CountyPickens CountyAnderson CountyLaurens CountyMarlboro CountyChesterfield CountyKershaw CountyLancaster CountyYork CountyCherokee CountyUnion CountySpartanburg CountyGreenville CountyNewberry CountyLexington CountyRichland CountyCalhoun CountyOrangeburg CountyLee CountySumter CountyFairfield CountyChester CountySouth-carolina-county-map.gif

Counties or Districts

To find South Carolina records, it helps to understanding the history of their counties and districts. [1]
Early. Until the 1760s the predominant court was in Charleston. Parish and township records were kept, but records at counties not so much. Early counties were used more to describe locations than as record keeping jurisdictions.
1769. Seven circuit court districts were established. Record keeping in district seats became more important. Parishes continued. All counties were abolished.
1785. The seven overarching districts were sub-divided into three to six counties each. Provisional counties in three southern districts never built courthouses, never functioned, and were counties in name only.
The other four northern districts were often settled by people accustomed to county government who soon erected courthouses, and fully functioning counties. Some of the county names (or similar names) from this period were used for later counties with different county boundaries.
1791. The 14 provisional counties within Charleston, Beaufort, and Orangeburg districts were dissolved for failure to thrive. Two new districts with six counties inside those new districts were reorganized from parts of previous districts and counties in the far north.
1800. All overarching districts were abolished. Three of the previous counties were abolished. Seven new counties were created and added to the other remaining counties. However, all South Carolina counties were also called districts until 1868.
1868. Any remaining so-called districts were officially changed to counties.

Extinct Counties: Bartholomew · Berkeley (1682-1768) · Berkeley (1785-1791) · Carteret · Claremont · Craven · Granville (1708-1768) · Granville (1785-1791) · Hilton · Kingston · Lewisburg · Liberty · Lincoln · Orange · Pendleton · Salem · Shrewsbury · Waccamaw · Washington · Winton · Winyaw

Overarching Districts: Beaufort District · Camden District · Charleston District · Cheraw District · Georgetown District · Ninety-Six District · Orangeburgh District · Pendleton District · Pinckney District · Washington District

Districts that became Counties 1800–1868: Abbeville District · Anderson District · Barnwell District · Beaufort District · Charleston District · Chester District · Chesterfield District · Clarendon District · Colleton District · Darlington District · Edgefield District · Fairfield District · Georgetown District · Greenville District · Greenville District · Horry District · Lancaster District · Laurens District · Lexington District · Marion District · Marlboro District · Orangeburg District · Newberry District · Pickens District · Richland District · Spartanburg District · Sumter District · Williamsburg District · York District

Colonial Parishes

All Saints · Christ Church · Prince Frederick · Prince George · Prince William · St. Andrew's · St. Bartholomew's · St. David's · St. George Dorchester · St. Helena's · St. James Goose Creek · St. James Santee · St. John's Berkeley · St. John's Colleton · St. Luke's · St. Mark's · St. Matthew's · St. Michael's · St. Paul's · St. Peter's · St. Philip's · St. Stephen's · St. Thomas and St. Denis

Colonial Townships

Amelia · Congaree · Edisto · Fredericksburg · Hillsborough · Kingston · Kings Town · Londonborough · New Windsor · Orangeburgh · Purrysburg · Queensboro · Queensborough · Saxe-Gotha · The Welsh Tract · Williamsburg

Major Repositories

South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History · South Carolina Historical Society · South Caroliniana Library · Charleston Library Society · National Archives Southeast Region (Atlanta) · Dallas Public Central Library

Migration Routes

Savannah River · Augusta and Cherokee Trail · Augusta-Savannah Trail · Augusta-St. Augustine Trail · Camden-Charleston Path · Catawba and Northern Trail · Catawba Trail · Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail · Charleston-Savannah Trail · Cisca and St. Augustine Trail (or Nickajack Trail) · Coosa-Tugaloo Indian Warpath · Fall Line Road (or Southern Road) · Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path · Fort Moore-Charleston Trail · Great Valley Road · King's Highway · Lower Cherokee Traders' Path · Lower Creek Trading Path · Middle Creek Trading Path · Occaneechi Path · Old Cherokee Path · Old South Carolina State Road · Savannah-Jacksonville Trail · Secondary Coast Road · Tugaloo-Apalachee Bay Trail · Unicoi Trail · Upper Road · Ports:  Beaufort · Charleston · Georgetown


About 80 percent of the settlers of colonial South Carolina were of English origin. Many of them came by way of Barbados and other colonies rather than directly from England. A group of Dutch settlers from New York came to South Carolina in 1671. Another smaller group was of French origin, mostly descendants of Huguenots, who came to the area beginning in 1680. More numerous were the Scottish dissenters, who were brought in beginning in 1682, and the Germans, who arrived during the eighteenth century. Blacks constituted a majority of the population from early colonial times until 1930. Indian wars drove most of the native Americans from the state, but there are still a few Catawba Indians in York County.

Research Tools

  • Restore the Ancestors Indexing Project: SC Estate Inventories Help index all surviving Charleston, SC Estate Inventories, 1732-1872 and Bills of Sale, 1773-1872, for a FREE collection containing the name of every slave ever listed in a surviving inventory.
  • South Carolina County Maps and Atlases - South Carolina County Formation, Atlases and D.O.T. Road and Highway maps
  • Charleston County Public Library's South Carolina Room describes history and genealogy finding aids at the library.
  • The South Carolina Archives has an online Information about Records at the SC Archives page, a database search engine for Plats of State Land Grants 1784-1868; Will Transcripts 1782-1855; Confederate Pension Applications 1919-1926, and the Summary Guide to Local Records listing their county and municipality records
  • The South Carolina Health Department has provided an online index of South Carolina deaths from the years 1915-1957. The index is divided into four sections: 1915-1924, 1925-1934, 1935-1944 and 1945-1949 and 1950-1958.
  • South Carolina GenWeb county-by-county formation histories, cemetery listings, census transcript/indexes, county histories, and repositories.
  • South Carolina Genealogy Trails newspapers, queries, census, military, biography, cemetery abstracts mostly submitted one at a time.
  • South Carolina Pioneers  blog of name lists in wills, genealogies, estates, Bible records, and gedcom files; enticing you to buy transcript books.
  • Listen to our complete collection of audio files of South Carolina county name pronunciations flavored with local accents.
  • Record Search has provided a name index and images of South Carolina Deaths 1915-1943.
  • Record Search has provided a name index of South Carolina Deaths 1944-1955.
  • Project poster extends an invitation to find answers and share knowledge through the South Carolina wiki page.  Print as a flyer, post to message board, link to newsletter, website, facebook page, attach to e-mail communication.  This is a major initiative of the Family History Library U.S. Reference Unit in anticipation of the 2011 NGS Conference in Charleston.
  • SCIWAY South Carolina's Information Highway is a gateway to genealogical and historical information.


Genealogy courses: Learn how to research from an expert in United States of America Research.

Things you can do
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  1. "The Counties from 1664 to Present - In Alphabetical Order" in South Carolina - The Counties at (accessed 28 April 2011).