A History of Londonborough Township, South Carolina

In 1761, The Bounty Act was a direct result of the French and Indian War (1756-1759 in the colonies) and the Cherokee War (1760) in South Carolina. This Act provided cash money to anyone who brought settlers to the "upcountry" area of South Carolina - again, to serve as a deterrent against future Indian attacks on the colony. Three new "townships" were established as a result of the Bounty Act of 1761, much like the earlier townships of 1730.

Once again, these three townships did not survive into the modern era. The American Revolution brought about the factions of Loyalists (Tories) and Freedom Fighters (Patriots), and the many years of conflict during the war caused many of the new settlers to pack up and move to other parts.

Upcountry Swiss/Palatine Settlements Around Londonborough Township

In 1765, Londonborough Township was established and settled by 300 Swiss/Palatine immigrants, mostly German and a good number of French-Swiss. This new township was located in what are present-day Greenwood and McCormick Counties, straddling their common boundary - certainly the new western frontier of the colony at that time, very close to the Cherokee lower towns in northwestern South Carolina.

The 1769 District Court Act established seven new districts, and the Londonborough Township was situated in the newly-created Ninety-Six District. This place was also known as the Belfast Township (see plat below), but few used that name and it was not found on many maps with that name.

A group of Germans established a settlement named Londonborough along Hard Labor Creek early in 1765. Minutes of the Executive Council list land grants to 56 persons, presumably heads of families, but there are no records to show how many of them actually settled here.

They were sometimes referred to as Palatines from their native Rhine Valley region, the Palatinate, and also were called "Dutch", a corruption of their own word, "Deutsch," meaning German. The same designation was applied to Pennsylvania "Dutch" and the "Dutch Fork" settlers in central South Carolina - they were Germans, too.

Our German pioneers were victims of misfortune from the beginning, and their community, Londonborough, was never a thriving one. Many left after only a few years to join older and more prosperous German settlements in Newberry, Richland, and Orangeburg counties. Names of those who remained, though not at their first settlement, include Dorn, Durst (first recorded as Dorst), Strom (Strum or Straum), Clem, Zimmerman, Flick, and Swilling (Zwilling).

The initial promoter of the German expedition was Colonel John Henry Christian de Stumpel, former Prussian army officer. He persuaded several hundred (accounts vary as to number) German Protestants to sell their property and emigrate to America, going by way of London where he was to make arrangements for passage and grants of land. Whatever his motive, good, visionary, or dishonest, Colonel de Stumpel failed to get land grants, but collected all the money the Germans had and disappeared, leaving them stranded in London.

Their plight is described in "An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia," by Dr. Alexander Hewatt, published in London in 1779 and reprinted in 1836 in "Historical Collections of South Carolina," compiled by B. R. Carroll:

Click Here to read/download a PDF version of Volume I.

Click Here to read/download a PDF version of Volume II.

Hewatt wrote that the Germans were in London "without money, without friends, exposed in the open fields and ready to perish through want a humane clergyman, who came from the same country, took compassion on them, and published their deplorable case in the newspaper." Help came from "a great personage" (obviously, the king) with "a bounty of three hundred pounds and tents from the Tower." London citizens followed this example with medical attention and food, plus money. "His majesty, sensible that his colony of South Carolina had not its proportion of white inhabitants, and having expressed a particular attachment to it, signified his desire of transporting them to that province," Hewatt added.

Two ships were engaged and fitted but for the voyage. "A hundred and fifty stand of arms were ordered from the Tower, and given them by his majesty for their defense, after their arrival in America," Hewatt wrote. The October 1764 issue of Gentlemen's Magazine, published in London, had this item: "The Palatines broke up their camp in White Chapel Fields and embarked on board the ships appointed to carry them to the Carolinas."

Minutes of the Dec. 24, 1763 meeting of the Executive Council in Charles Town carry the following: "His Honor the Lieutenant Governor (William Bull) informed the Board that he had this morning sent an Express to Patrick Calhoun to desire him to proceed directly to the spot where the Dutch People were to be settled and there to build a large Log House to shield them on there arrival from the Inclemency of the Weather, That he expected Wagons in Town in about Ten days to carry up their baggage, That he should write to Mr. Fairchild the Deputy Surveyor to proceed with them and survey Lands for them and settle them on them immediately, That they might avail themselves of the earliest opportunity in raising there Hutts and there planting there Crops and several of them attending they were Called in when they were sworn to their petitions and also took the Oath of allegiance."

Then the minutes list 56 names and allotments of land from 100 to 400 acres each. The route of the Germans and their baggage wagons to their new home is not given. The Executive Council minutes for Jan. 31, 1765 note that two Charles Town merchants, William Woodrop and Andrew Cathcart, presented petitions for "bounty" due them "as agents for the Committee in London for the relief of poor German protestants lately arrived." Named in the minutes are 175 adults and children over 12, bounty of five pounds sterling apiece; 86 children between two and 12 years old, bounty of three pounds sterling each; and 45 names of persons who died either aboard ship or after landing in Charles Town.

A township totaling about 25,000 acres was allotted to the Germans. Its name Londonborough honored the colonists' benefactors. The occasional use of "Londonderry" for the township is incorrect. The boundaries of Londonborough Township are not clearly defined by modern landmarks. There seems to be some overlapping of territory with the previously established townships of Hillsborough to the south and Belfast to the west and northwest. It was relatively uncharted territory and that could account for discrepancies.

The site of the Londonborough settlement was south or southwest of Powder Spring, a mineral spring near Hard Labor Creek on the J. A. Bannister place. A large, flat field stone on that place was the step to the community log house, tradition has it, and if so, it is the only physical trace remaining. The Germans may have built "there Hutts" close together for protection and companionship, in the way European villages were laid out, with cleared ground for crops and pastures surrounding the settlement. That is only surmise, however, as no records have been found.

Lt. Governor William Bull, in a letter dated March 15, 1765, wrote to London authorities as follows:

"I have the honor to acquaint your Lordships that in obedience to his majesty's command, the German Protestants are settled together about 12 miles south of Ninety Six which spot was pitched upon by the first party who went out of town as most eligible on account of their security, having many English settlers on their Frontiers, who are more accustomed to see Indians and know better how to behave toward them. The land where the Germans are seated is good but not quite so rich as that which lies more westerly; this they were informed of, but for the reason above mentioned declined going there. I have given the name of Londonborough to this settlement in honor of the gentlemen of the city of London by whose liberal contributions after his majesty's great example, these emigrants have been maintained and sent hither. I have appointed militia officers out of their own body and one of them to be Justice of the Peace, with a book compiled for the instruction for the justices of this province. This I hope will preserve good order amongst them and prevent those jealousies which strangers are apt to conceive of their being unproperly treated by the English, until they understand our language and laws. To encourage a military spirit and attachment to the English I gave them a set of silk colored with the name of their township wrought thereon, and recommended them to some of the best English in that neighbourhood for instruction in agriculture of our climate tho, I put them as well as the French Protestants of Hillsborough upon going well with their whole strength next year upon raising hemp by giving to each township several bushels of seed now and advising that they should prepare for a future staple of silk by planting mulberries. The party who went up in January last had finished their huts by the beginning of this month; as all of them would have done, if it had been their good fortune to have had their baggage with or soon after them."

Hard times came in a few months. Peter Dorst (Durst) and Henrick Adolph went to Charles Town and petitioned authorities for help, reporting that money and food had given would have to be abandoned unless aid was provided. Lt. Governor Bull told them no help was available, but he allowed them 30 pounds sterling as expenses for their trip.

Charitable neighbors likely gave assistance, but the Germans were still, or again, in difficulties in the autumn of 1767, as indicated by a diary reference of T. Griffiths, an English traveler. Griffiths wrote of stopping at "Coffe Creek (Cuffytown), a new neighborhood; here the people were all sick." He also wrote that he bought "some corn for my horse and potato bread and a fowl for myself," so the people did have food.

Two years later, in 1769, Lt. Governor Bull wrote a cheerful report, shown in this extract from his letter to the London Board of Trade:

"They (the Germans) have surmounted the difficulties which naturally attended all new settlers, especially to strangers to the climate and language. By their industry they now enjoy all such conveniences as are to be found with the humble state of life-comfortable houses, orchards, plenty of provisions, stock of cattle, hogs, poultry, horses for labor. They now raise more than they can consume and consequently add to their capital. Some raise flour and some raise hemp. They are loyal and very useful and orderly members of the community . . . "

An Episcopal missionary, the Rev. Samuel Frederick Lucius, was in the area in 1770, and his report back to Charles Town was headed "Cuffee Town." Additional Germans had come in 1770 and may have settled near Cuffytown Creek rather than at Londonborough which was near Hard Labor Creek. If there was a settlement called "Cuffee Town," as Lucius' report indicates, it is one of our "lost" communities. See the chapter on churches for quotes from Lucius' report and information on the German Lutheran Church of St. George eventually established on the Long Cane road, just above the Winterseat bridge over Hard Labor Creek.

Even before the American Revolution, some of the Germans moved away from this area, and others spread out before and after the war to lands along Cuffytown Creek in the vicinity of Kirksey and Sleepy (Slippy) Creek in present-day Edegfield County.

Some of the Germans served the American side in the Revolution, but many remained loyal to the British or tried to be neutral, thereby showing gratitude to King George III and the London businessmen who had enabled them to get to America. As with all the settlers, the choice of sides was an individual matter.

The German colony, as such, did not last long, but hundreds of descendants, like their forebears, have been "very useful and orderly members of the community."

Nearly 200 years after the first group of Palatines came, a marker was unveiled on November 1, 1964, beside state highway 48, near Powder Spring. It commemorates the Londonborough settlement and was erected by the Edgefield and Greenwood County Historical Societies. The West German government through its embassy in Washington sent a color guard to participate in the unveiling ceremony. Three flags were flown at the scene - those of Germany, Great Britain, and the United States of America.

From "Greenwood County Sketches-Old Roads and Early Families," by Margaret Watson, The Attic Press, 1970 with minor edits.

Belfast Township Plat 1762 - From SC State Archives - Click Here

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