The Third Berkeley County, South Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)


Mount Pleasant (1882-1897)
Moncks Corner (1897 to Present)

John Berkeley, William Berkeley
Original Lords Proprietors


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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English/Welsh, Huguenots

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started

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Coming Later

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Airports in Berkeley County

Maps of Berkeley County

Books About Berkeley County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of the Third (3rd) Berkeley County

Mepkin Abbey - Berkeley County, SC

In 1682, the Lords Proprietors created three counties in what became South Carolina. Craven County, originated in 1664, continued with a now-defined southern boundary at the mouth of the Awendaw Creek. The first incarnation of Berkeley County was defined to exist from Awendaw Creek to the mouth of the Stono River. And finally, the first incarnation of Colleton County was defined to exist south of the Stono River to an unnamed location, ostensibly the St. John's River at the southern extent of the colony. In 1684, a fourth county was established out of Colleton County, and it was named Carteret County. The new Carteret County was deemed to lie between the mouth of the Combahee River and the mouth of the Savannah River. This now made Colleton County to lie between the mouth of the Stono River and the mouth of the Combahee River. In 1708, Carteret County was renamed to Granville County.

In 1785, the new state Legislature of South Carolina issued the "County Court Act" and established thirty-four "new counties" within the existing seven "overarching Districts." These "new counties" in the backcountry and upcountry did fairly well since many of the new inhabitants were from North Carolina, which had a very strong county system already in place and the new citizens of the upstate counties in South Carolina took advantage of their experience and knowledge. However, the lowcountry citizens were not used to having another "layer" of bureaucracy added to their daily burdens and they seemed to be quite comfortable with the District Court system as established in 1769 as well as the Parish system in place since 1706.

Therefore, the "new counties" in the lowcountry Districts of Beaufort, Charleston, and Georgetown did not take root - there are several reasons that they did not survive. The state did not take immediate steps to commence building any new county court houses or appoint local citizens to serve as justices or commissioners. And, the locals never took any initiative on their own to press for this new "county system" themselves. Therefore, all of the "new counties" that were created by the 1785 County Court Act in the lowcountry were abolished in 1791, and the "overarching Districts" of Beaufort, Charleston, and Georgetown continued to be the governmental seats until 1800, when, finally, the old seven "overarching Districts" were abolished in favor of "new districts" - equivalent to "counties" nowadays - which continued until the new state Constitution of 1868 adopted the term "county" instead of "district."

As described above, the 1785 County Court Act created six "subordinate" counties within the "overarching" Charleston District - Bartholomew County (totally new), Berkeley County (a second incarnation with new boundaries), Colleton County (a second incarnation with new boundaries), Charleston County (totally new), Marion County (totally new - and not to be confused with the later county along the Pee Dee River that was created n 1798), and Washington County (totally new). All six of these "new counties" did not take root with the local citizenship, who were apparently quite comfortable doing their governmental business in Charleston, and these six "new counties" were abolished in 1791. Some were again resurrected by the Legislature in 1800, but with totally new boundaries and descriptions just nine years later.

The second incarnation of Berkeley County (1785) was located approximately where today's Dorchester County is found, but also included a part of present-day Charleston County. This incarnation of Berkeley County was abolished in 1791 and is NOT to be confused with the present-day Berkeley County, which was established in 1882, nor with the first Berkeley County that was established in 1682 and abolished in 1769 due to the District Court Act.

Three incarnations, totally different locations and times, not the same entities.

Moncks Corner Depot (2007)

Berkeley County, in the lower pine belt of the Coastal Plain, the largest county of the state, has an area of 1,238 square miles, and 22,558 inhabitants, virtually all native. The county is level, the maximum elevation being 150 feet. It was re-established in 1882, but embraces part of the original county named in honor of two of the original eight Lords Proprietors, John Berkeley, and William Berkeley, established May 10, 1682, along with Craven and Colleton counties. Its present territory was long part of Charleston County. Moncks Corner, the county seat, has 309 inhabitants, Lincolnville 247, and St. Stephens 312.

The soil is of varying kinds and degrees of fertility; the richest being along the rivers and swamps, shading off into light sandy soil, extremely responsive to proper fertilization and cultivation. Technically the soils are divided into six series: Norfolk, Rustan, Coxville, and Portsmouth in the uplands, and Johnston and Congaree in the bottom lands. Norfolk and Rustan are the most important and best drained, and about 60 per cent of their area is under cultivation. The growing season is from 250 to 280 days.

Agriculture developed early under the plantation system, and nowhere was the social and economic life which it fostered more typical, with indigo, rice and cotton as the staple crops. This condition continued to 1860, many of the plantations date from colonial times, and some are still in the possession of original families. Some of these are of more than local interest, as the original homes of distinguished South Carolinians.

The present crops consist of cotton, corn, peas, oats, sweet potatoes sugar cane and tobacco. Any crop that will grow in the Coastal Plain will flourish here. One of the first crops of long cotton in South Carolina was grown by Major General William Moultrie on his Northampton Plantation in 1793.

Recent years have seen marked increase of interest in education. Schools have been consolidated, trucks are used, and many modern school houses built for both white and colored pupils. The accredited high school at Moncks Corner in 1915 was a one teacher school with an enrollment of 12 and a building and lot valued at $200. In 1926, this school has 15 teachers, 375 pupils, and a plant valued at $65,000.

The Atlantic Coast Line, Southern Railway, and Seaboard Air Line Railway, with a total of 76 miles, furnish transportation. The Atlantic Coastal highway 41 follows the Atlantic Coast Line from the splendid Santee River bridge to the Charleston County line at historic Goose Creek, and the Old State Road, another first-class highway, passes through the western part. Other state highways are under construction and old roads are being improved.

Two banks at Moncks Corner and one at St. Stephens serve the county.

Manufacturing is mainly confined to lumber, turpentine, and a barrel and basket factory with a capital of $100,000 and a capacity of 1,000,000 packages.

Berkeley strongly appeals to the naturalist and the sportsman, being rich in flora and fauna. Here the live oak, the magnolia and the cypress flourish to perfection, as well as every tree, flower, fruit, and shrub known to this latitude. Here are still found in considerable abundance, deer, wild cat, opossum, coon, fox, rabbit, squirrel, wild turkey, dove, and partridge, and in season wild duck of many varieties. In the streams are black bass, bream, perch, shad, rock fish, and carp.

It was in Berkeley County at Liberty Hall plantation that Audubon did much of his work; in St. John's, Porcher gathered a vast amount of information in preparing, at the request of the Confederate government, his resources of the southern fields and forests; here Ravenel gathered many of his botanical specimens, and here too, in recent years, Herbert Sass and Archibald Rutledge have found inspiration for some of their fascinating stories.

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


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