Dorchester County, South Carolina Genealogy

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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
Map of South Carolina highlighting Dorchester County
Location in the state of South Carolina, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting South Carolina
Location of South Carolina in the U.S.
Founded February 25, 1897
County Seat St. George

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.[1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
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.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Dorchester County Courthouse101 Ridge Street
St. George, SC 29477

Dorchester County Register of Deeds
201 Johnston Street
Saint George, SC 29477
Phone: 843-563-0181
Land records on line index

Dorchester County Probate Court
5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd.
St. George, SC 29477
Phone: 843-563-0105
Probate and marriage records

Dorchester County Clerk of Court
5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd.
St. George, SC 29477
Phone: 843-563-0178

History[edit | edit source]

[[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, Norfolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy 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.[3] Learn more about the history of Dorchester County from the South Carolina State Library or from

Parent County/Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 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 website.

County Seat[edit | edit source]

The county seat of Dorchester County is St. George.

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Hear it spoken.[4]

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

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

Places/Localities[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:[5]

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

Resources[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

African Americans[edit | edit source]

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

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
SCGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
SCGenWeb Archives FamilySearch Places
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See South Carolina Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

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: "".
1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of Dorchester County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see South Carolina Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than online nationwide indexes.

See South Carolina Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.

Church[edit | edit source]

Church of England[edit | edit source]

Gotoarrow.png See also St. George Dorchester Parish

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court[edit | edit source]

DNA[edit | edit source]

DNA Double Helix.png
DNA has been collected from men claiming descent from the following Dorchester County residents. FamilySearch has not independently verified the lineages of those tested. 

Family Histories[edit | edit source]

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)


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in Dorchester, South Carolina at World Connect, results in more than 2,000 entries.

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

Message Boards


Land[edit | edit source]

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:

Tracing Land Currently in Dorchester County with Parent Counties and Districts[6]
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]

  • 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[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:[7]

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]
  • "Dorchester Its Mystery Fort," Americana, April 1933, Volume 27, Issue 2. American Historical Magazine : Somerville, NJ. FHL Collection Book. 973 B2a.
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

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

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


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 this county, see:

Probate[edit | edit source]

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.”[8] 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.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

Taxation[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, 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.

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. 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.

Birth[edit | edit source]

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.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

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 [9]FHL Collection - records
  • 1918-1950 - Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Licenses, ca. 1918-1950 [10]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 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

Archives, Libraries, and Museums[edit | edit source]

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 [edit | edit source]

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

To locate the closest family history center or affiliate library, use the link listed above.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Dorchester County, South Carolina

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Dorchester County, South Carolina" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_South_Carolina." accessed 25/06/2019
  2. 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.
  3. South Carolina State Library, "Dorchester County".
  4. Voice of Phillip Stalvey, resident of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (2011).
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Dorchester County, South Carolina," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 23 December 2019.
  6. Schweitzer, George K. , South Carolina Genealogical Research (Knoxville, Tennessee: s.p. 1985), 39-42, FHL book 975.7 D27s
  7. 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.
  8. Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."
  9. Dorchester County, South Carolina Marriage Registers, ca. 1911-1957, Salt Lake City, UT: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2002.
  10. 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.