A History of Stateburg, South Carolina

Thomas Sumter

The city and county of Sumter bear the name of Brigadier General Thomas Sumter, the "Fighting Gamecock" of the American Revolution. His place in U.S. history is secure as a Patriot and military genius. Thomas Sumter was one of the models for Mel Gibson's character in the 2000 movie, "The Patriot" (along with Francis Marion and Andrew Pickens, also from South Carolina), and his service to his country continued for the duration of his long life.

Born in Virginia in 1734, Thomas Sumter settled in St. Mark's Parish in 1767. He founded the town of Statesburg, where his financial interests included a sawmill, grist mill, general store, and a large plantation. He and his wife, Mary Cantey, had one son, Thomas Jr., born in 1768.

Following the war, Sumter continued in the service of the young nation, ultimately as a member of the United States Congress. He retired at age 76 to his beloved "Home House" in the High Hills of the Santee, where he continued to actively manage his business affairs and remained a respected figure in the Statesburg community until his death in 1832 at age 98, the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War. Thomas Sumter is buried in Stateburg, the adoptive hometown to which he gave so much.

When the state capital was moved from Charleston in 1786, Statesburg missed being elected the new capital by one vote. According to tradition, Statesburg was also considered as the location for the United States Military Academy, now at West Point.

Statesburg was the county seat of Claremont County between 1785 and 1800, and in 1800 the county was abolished. Statesburg then became the county seat for the newly-created Sumter County in 1800 and remained so until 1855, when the town of Sumter became the present county seat. Officially it was named Statesburg Court House until 1858, then simply Statesburg until 1877, when it was spelled Statesburgh. In 1893, the spelling was changed back to Statesburg, but in 1902 it was shortened to Stateburg.

Stateburg is currently in present-day Sumter County.

High Hills Baptist Church

High Hills Baptist Church, founded in 1772, occupies a plot of land granted to the congregation by Thomas Sumter. The present building, erected in 1803, is a distinctive landmark in the Stateburg area with its simple green-and-white painted frame structure. High Hills Baptist grew into a strong and influential church under the dynamic leadership of the Reverend Richard Furman, the pastor from 1774 to 1787.

As Statesburg Court House, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on March 20, 1793, and its first Postmaster was Mr. John Horan. It was in Claremont County until 1800, when it was then in the new Sumter District (county). In 1858, the Post Office Department officially changed its name to Statesburg. In 1877, the Post Office Department officially changed its name to Statesburgh. In 1893, the Post Office officially changed its name back to Statesburg. In 1902, the Post Office Department officially changed its name to Stateburg. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception in 1793..

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved