Chester County, South Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)



Chester, Pennsylvania


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1755 / Scots-Irish from PA & VA

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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 Chester County

Maps of Chester County

Books About Chester County

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A History of Chester County

Chester State Park

Chester County and its county seat, the town of Chester, were named for Chester County, Pennsylvania. The county was formed in 1785 as part of the larger Camden District but was later transferred to Pinckney District (1791-1800); it became a separate district (county) in 1800. Scots-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia moved into this upstate region beginning about 1755.

During the Revolutionary War, American forces under Colonel Thomas Sumter were defeated here at the battle of Fishing Creek on August 18, 1780; the Americans were victorious at Fish Dam Ford in November of the same year.

The Landsford Canal was built in 1823 to allow boats and barges to bypass rapids on the Catawba River; this canal is now open as a state park. In later years the availability of hydroelectric power encouraged the establishment of textile mills in the area. South Carolina governor, United States senator, and judge Donald S. Russell (1906-1998) lived in Chester as a boy

The original inhabitants of Chester County were the Catawba and the Cherokee Indians. White traders entered the area in the early 1700s, and the first settlers came in the 1750s, largely in the Rocky Creek and Fishing Creek areas. Early settlers were part of the great Scots-Irish immigration south from Pennsylvania on the Great Wagon Road. Others came up from the port of Charlestown. The western part of the county was settled for the most part by immigrants from Virginia, most of English extraction.

Chester County was the scene for several Revolutionary War battles, including Beckhamville, Fishing Creek, and Fish Dam Ford. The city of Chester began to build up around the court house, founded at the site in the 1790s. It developed as a trading center for the surrounding farming areas, and grew rapidly after the location of the first railroad through the area in 1851. During the American Civil War, Chester County furnished a large number of soldiers for the Confederate cause. Portions of Union General William T. Sherman’s troops moved through the county in the spring of 1865, bringing destruction. The Civil War and Reconstruction period which followed brought difficult economic times for the people of Chester County.

The county began to change from a strictly agrarian economy to a manufacturing economy with the founding of the Chester Manufacturing Company in 1888 and the Catawba Manufacturing Company in 1892. Both of these textile mills later became part of the Springs Industries textile organization. Later mills were built in Great Falls and Lando. For almost a century, the county was heavily dependent on textiles as the base of the economy. During the past fifteen years, local industries have become much more diversified.

Chester County of which the city of the same name is the county seat, was organized in 1785, has an area of 592 square miles, 378,880 acres, was named for the town of Chester in Pennsylvania from which large numbers of its settlers came, which in turn was named for Chester in England. In 1920, it had 13,996 whites and 19,338 colored inhabitants, 54 foreign born, and one Chinese, the total population being 33,389, estimated in 1925 at 35,635.

Chester is a north-central county bounded on the east by the Catawba River and the west by the Broad River. Great Falls, in Chester County, is the site of one of the principal stations of the Southern Power company; two miles south is its Rocky Creek station; five miles north its Dishing Creek station, while its Wateree station is 30 miles south. Across the river from Great Falls is the Dearborn station. Three of these hydro-electric stations generating 173,750 hp are in the county and plants of 214,000 hp capacity are within 40 miles of the city of Chester, the county seat. Chester County is one of the chief centers of power development in the southern states.

Of Chester soil, 29.9 per cent is cecil sandy loam, most of it in the county's eastern section, where it is a gently-rolling country. It produces principally cotton, corn, oats, and fruits. Cecil clay loam is 21.2 per cent, commonly known as "red clay land." It produces cotton and corn. Iredell clay loam or "black tack land," 16.2 per cent, forms a wide broken strip through the center of the county in a southeasterly direction, and cecil coarse sandy loam, much like cecil sandy loam, is 12.6 per cent and is found in a large belt rimming the southwest.

The county has brick clay, soapstone and mad, or bog manganese in quantities, not now worked but rich in prospects for development. Twenty-five per cent or 99,977 acres of the farm area of the county is in farm woodland, the short-leaf pine being the most common tree, though there are valuable hardwoods, as oak, hickory, and walnut.

The climate is mild and healthful, makes open-air farming practicable nearly all of the year, and facilitates crop production in great variety. The growing season is 215 days. Sleet or snow is occasional.

Chester has seven accredited high schools. The city of Chester has a population of 5,557. It has three cotton mills with 71,800 spindles and 2,036 looms. Other textile mills in the county have 92,706 spindles and 2,672 looms. Other manufacturing industries of the city are machine and lumber company, ice and fuel company, cotton oil company, tool works, fertilizer works, roller mill, marble and granite company, creamery, ice cream company, a poultry hatchery, bakery, and bottling works.

Chester is one of the typically-prosperous and well-settled upcountry counties. Predominantly agricultural, it has the advantage of nearness to such markets as Charlotte and Columbia, as well as the great manufacturing districts west of it. Improved and developed lands command good prices, but low-priced lands easily brought up are abundant.

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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