Abbeville County, South Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)



French City of Abbeville


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1750 / Scots-Irish, Huguenots

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

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Coming Later

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Airports in Abbeville County

Maps of Abbeville County

Books About Abbeville County

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A History of Abbeville County

The Hill House - Abbeville, South Carolina

Both the county and its county seat, the town of Abbeville, were named for the French town of the same name. Originally part of Ninety-Six District, the area was designated as Abbeville County in 1785. Parts of Abbeville County later went to form Greenwood (1897) and McCormick (1916) counties. The county was settled primarily by Scots-Irish and French Huguenot farmers in the mid-eighteenth century. A historic treaty with the Cherokee Indians was signed at Dewitt's Corner (now Due West) in 1777. Abbeville was known as a hotbed of secession, and at the end of the American Civil War the last Confederate Council of War was held here. Abbeville's most famous native son was John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), United States Vice President, Secretary of War and of State, and U.S. Senator.
In western South Carolina, Abbeville County was settled primarily by Scots-Irish and French Huguenot farmers in the mid-eighteenth century. A historic treaty with the Cherokee Indians was signed at Dewitt's Corner (now Due West) in 1777. Abbeville County was formed in 1785 from Ninety-six District. In 1798, it was designated Abbeville District, and in 1868 it was redesignated Abbeville County. Parts of Abbeville later went to form Greenwood (1897) and McCormick (1916) counties. Its county seat, the town of Abbeville, is about 50 miles south of Greenville, and 70 miles west of Columbia.
Abbeville County, organized in 1785, ranks first among, the counties of upper South Carolina. It was first in the Confederate war, as it had been at the front in the war for American Independence. It was also first and foremost in educational initiatives and achievement. Robert Mills in his "Statistics of South Carolina," published in 1826, "Abbeville may be regarded as the original seat of learning in the upper country, and from it has emanated that light and intelligence which manifested themselves there previous to and during the Revolutionary War. Attention to education was equal with the settlement."

The first important settlement in the Abbeville District was made by Patrick L. Calhoun and the families of four of his friends in 1756. They were of the Scottish, or Scots-Irish, order. This settlement was followed in 1764 by the coming of 211 Huguenot exiles from France, and from them was derived the name of the district and the strength and character of its people and institutions. Originally, the territory embraced in the district covered an area of 992 square miles. In recent years the size of the county has been greatly reduced, until its present area covers only about one-half of the original territory. In its physical aspects it may be aptly described in biblical form as "a land of waters, of fountains and springs flowing forth in valleys and hills - a land of wheat and corn and vines and 715 trees - a land of honey." The great forests by which the lands originally covered have been removed, although considerable wooded areas remain, covered by the short-leaf pine and the hard woods native to this region.

Agriculture is the principal industry of the county, although two of the most modern and profitable cotton mills in the state are the mill at Calhoun Falls and the mill at Abbeville Court House. The prevailing soil of the county is of the red clay loam type and possesses great natural fertility. Cotton is the staple crop but the soil is well adapted to the profitable cultivation of all the grain and forage crops. The meadow lands of the county, of which there are many thousand acres, would afford rich pasturage for great herds of cattle and the development of a highly profitable dairying industry. One of the many natural advantages of this region is its even temperature, absence of zero cold in winter and tropical heat in summer, with the result that the growing season in Abbeville county is 235 days the year.

Abbeville County lies in the gold-bearing belt extending from Dahlonega, Georgia, through the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and into Maryland. One of the richest of the "diggings" was the Dorn Gold Mine in Abbeville County. It was what was known as a "pocket mine," and after yielding $3,000,000 was abandoned, the pocket having been thoroughly picked, and for many years the mine has not been operated. While the mineral resources of the county are practically a virgin field, sufficient prospecting has been done to indicate vast potential wealth, especially in the minerals used for strictly commercial purposes. Awaiting exploitation by even limited capital, there are heavy deposits of feldspar for porcelain and china manufacturers; mica essential in the electrical and radio field; in the state hiocher, the basis of all paint; an unlimited quantity and fine quality of holler's earth necessary for clarifying and whitening mineral, vegetable and animal oils and fats, and asbestos for fireproofing. Small deposits of iron and onyx have also been found.

Abbeville County is served by the Norfolk Southern Railroad and Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (now, CSX), and parts of the county by the Piedmont & Northern Railway (now, also CSX). The county also has a fine system of improved public highways.

John C. Calhoun, George McDuffie, Langdon Cheves, the Haskells, James L. Petigru, the Wardlaws, statesmen, lawyers, judges, soldiers, and a host of other eminent men were born in this county.

The population of Abbeville County by the last United States census (1920) was 27,139 white, native-born, 11,670; colored, 15,436; foreign-born, 32; Indians, Chinese, 1. The population in 1925 (estimated) was 28,033. The population of Abbeville city by the local census is about 5,000. The population of the towns in the county follows: Calhoun Falls, 897; Donalds, 310; Due West, 702; Lowndesville, 271. There are seven accredited high schools, one college (male) of A-rank, one college for women, and one theological seminary. The county is richly supplied with churches, all the Protestant denominations being well provided. At Abbeville Court House there is a small Roman Catholic church.

Immediately above, published in "South Carolina: A Handbook," prepared by The Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industries and Clemson College, Columbia, South Carolina, 1927. Now in the Public Domain. [with minor edits]


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