My Carolina Wren Marion County, South Carolina
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Historical Sketches



researched and written by Victoria Proctor
(last revised 2015)

For a quick visual look at the boundary changes for Marion County, see the Marion County Historical Maps page.

During its early colonial years under the rule of the Lords Proprietors the area now known as Marion County was a part of Craven County (1682-1769). Craven County extended northward from Seewee Creek (present-day Awendaw Creek), the northernmost border of the Proprietary County of Berkeley. (See map.)

Throughout the colonial period (1682-1785), the Anglican Church parishes served as election districts but the jurisdictional courts were in Charleston, hence records were filed in Charleston. Marion County researchers should examine Anglican Parish records for the Parish of Prince Frederick (est. 1734). (See map.)

In 1769, when Craven was subdivided, the segment of land later known as Marion County was placed in Georgetown District, which extended from the North Carolina line to the Santee River. (See map.)

In 1785 Georgetown District was divided into the counties of Winyah, Kingston, Williamsburg, and Liberty:
Winyah became Georgetown County
Kingston became Horry County
Williamsburg became Williamsburg County
and Liberty County became Marion County.

Prior to 1785, all records were filed in Charleston and copies are generally available at the South Carolina Archives in Columbia (SCDAH). Between 1785 and c. 1800, however, records for Marion County were filed in Georgetown, and there is a gap in the records for this period as the Georgetown Courthouse was burned.

In 1798 when courthouse districts were created in South Carolina, the name "Marion District" was first used, honoring General Francis Marion of Revolutionary War fame. Marion County was created in 1798 from Georgetown District, one of the original districts created in 1769.

In 1888 a portion of Marion County was taken to form part of Florence County.

In 1910 DILLON County was carved from Marion County.

Researchers should be aware that there have been two Marion Counties in South Carolina:

MARION COUNTY (GEORGETOWN) was formed as Liberty County in 1785 but did not function. It was revitalized as Marion District in 1800. Many deeds from the colonial period are recorded in the deed books of this county after 1800. This area was partly in the former parishes of Prince Frederick and Prince George. An unusual series of tax lists 1808-1835 survives for this county.

MARION COUNTY (CHARLESTON) was one of the counties which never functioned. It was formed in 1785 in Charleston District, and corresponded roughly to St. John's Berkeley Parish. Any records pertaining to this area will be in the Charleston County records.

Some Marion History

My Dear Britton's Neck, South Carolina
From Memoir of James Jenkins, 1842 and contributed by Sandra Richardson Pound A very special look at the history of Britton's Neck, Marion County and its early citizens. Please be patient, it's a large document and will take some time to load to your browser (but well worth the wait!)

July 4th 1853 celebration at Tabernacle
as printed in the Marion Star newspaper and contributed by Francine Jones. Some rousing toasts made by Marion citizens. (Please keep in mind the political climate of this era.)

"Historic Marion (Town), South Carolina"

The date at which a town's history should begin is difficult to determine. If the year that the site was selected for the new courthouse (1799) is chosen, or the time that Marion received its official charter (1847), many years of a fascinating period would be omitted, years when a small number of pioneers increased slowly until the little settlement evolved into the village of Gilesborough.

Let us begin, then in the 1730's and 40's, when the white settlers began to move inland along the rivers from Charles Town and Georgetown, building rough cabins and clearing land for farming and grazing close to the only easy means of transportation, the navigable streams.

One "adventurer," as he was called in Bishop Gregg's History of the Old Cheraws, traveled a bit further up the Big Peedee River and settled on Catfish Creek near the present city limits of Marion. Historians give 1754 as the earliest date that official documents locate a permanent settler at this site; however, tradition suggests a much earlier date. At any rate, John Godbold, an Englishman, is generally credited with being the first white resident of what many years later became known as the town of Marion.

At the beginning of the American Revolution most of the sparse population of the locality was still clustered in the southern part, an area that became widely known as the location of General Francis Marion's swampy retreat, Snow's Island (now in Florence County), and at several points along the two Peedee rivers.

After 1783...the settlement was called Gilesborough in honor of Colonel Hugh Giles, an early resident and Revolutionary War hero.

--Marion Chamber of Commerce


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