Richland County, South Carolina


The South Carolina Information Highway has two history pages for Richland County, which I reproduce here.  I will eventually write a new history page for Richland County.

Note by ye web meister.  Columbia is a "fall line city," the limit of navigation on the Congaree River, where bedrock produces rapids (as is Augusta, GA, where I was born).  The rapids are clearly visible from I 20.

South Carolina Reference Room: Counties: Richland


Richland County was probably named for its "rich land." The county was formed in 1785 as part of the large Camden District. A small part of Richland later went to Kershaw County (1791). The county seat is Columbia, which is also the state capital. In 1786 the state legislature decided to move the capital from Charleston to a more central location. A site was chosen in Richland County, which is in the geographic center of the state, and a new town was laid out. Columbia subsequently became not only the center of government but an important trade and manufacturing center. Cotton from the surrounding plantations was shipped through Columbia and later manufactured into textiles there. Columbia is also known for its educational institutions, particularly the University of South Carolina, which was founded in 1802. General William T. Sherman captured Columbia during the Civil War, and his troops burned the town on February 17, 1865. The U. S. Army returned on more friendly terms in 1917, when Fort Jackson was established. Confederate general, governor, and United States senator Wade Hampton (1818-1902) was a resident of Richland County, and President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) lived in Columbia as a boy. Other prominent residents include artist William Harrison Scarborough (1812-1871), poets Henry Timrod (1829-1867) and James Dickey (1923-1997),civil rights leader Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992), religious leader Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996), and astronaut Charles Bolden.

Compiled by South Carolina State Library 1996.

Historical Sketch of Richland County

(Courtesy of the Richland County History Commission)

Richland County, a 762-square-mile expanse of lowland, sand hills, and rolling countryside, is, in essence, the Palmetto State in miniature. Its varied terrain has, from time to time, produced all of the major crops associated with South Carolina throughout its long history, among them, indigo, tobacco, wheat, rice, and cotton; and for two centuries the region has been the stage for events and decisions that have shaped the lives of all South Carolinians.

Created in 1785 in response to inland demands for local government, Richland was named either for good soil found along its Congaree River or a plantation owned by Thomas Taylor, who might well be considered the father of this county. The following year, in an effort to find a more central meeting site, South Carolina's lawmakers decided to set up shop on the banks of the Congaree, a highly innovative move.

The town thus created (Columbia) is the first instance in modern history of a functioning bureaucracy packing up and transferring its operations to a wilderness setting. Although Richland's original courthouse was built at Horrell Hill, a dozen miles east of present- day Columbia, by 1800 the little town of Columbia had become the center of county affairs, largely at the insistence of lawyers eager to do business at the new state capital.

Although village life outside of Columbia was rare during the first half of the 19th century, that community-thanks to the birth of the South Carolina College (1801) [otherwise known as USC -Midnet note] and the beginnings of a rail network(1842)-served well as the focus of social and commercial activity. By the eve of the Civil War, Columbia (population 8,000) was the largest inland community in the Carolinas, making Richland County a regional crossroads of considerable importance.

In decades that followed, despite hard times, the county experienced modest growth as population rose from 23,000 in 1870 to 78,000 a half century later. However, the turbulent 1930's ushered in an era of rapid change as an agricultural community was transformed into a patchwork of suburbs, shopping centers, and industrial/commercial facilities designed to serve both a burgeoning metropolis and a growing state bureaucracy. By1980, Richland County was home to 270,000 people, and where there had been 3,200 farms fifty years earlier, there were now only 382. Thus in a very real sense, Richland County not only represents many facets of South Carolina's rich heritage, its recent past parallels that of scores of other communities throughout the United States whose citizens also must grapple with the opportunities and dilemmas presented by growth, expansion, and change.

-John Hammond Moore

History of New Light Beulah Baptist Church

History of New Zion Benevolent. Baptist Church
History of Zion Mill Creek Baptist Church
History of Zion Mount Moriah Baptist Church

Please Email any additions, errors, or corrections to the county coordinator.

SCGenWeb - Richland County, South Carolina