A Brief History of Lancaster County

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson

Lancaster County is located in the north central area of South Carolina and is approximately 40 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina and 60 miles north of Columbia, South Carolina. Lancaster County covers 549 square miles and has an estimated population of 76,652. The county comprises three incorporated communities – Lancaster, Kershaw, and Heath Springs.

The County has a Council-Administrator form of government with seven council members.

Lancaster County and its county seat were named for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The county was formed in 1785, and it was originally part of the Camden District. A part of Lancaster County was removed in 1791 to form Kershaw County. Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania began moving into this upstate region in the 1750s.

The area abounds with landmarks of historical significance. The following are just some of these landmarks:

• Buford’s Massacre Site, the site of Col. Buford’s 1780 defeat by the British after the fall of Charles Town, with memorials to those who died in the Revolutionary War.

• Kilburnie, the oldest standing Lancaster residence. Built in the 1820’s, the house has been moved to Craig Farm Road and is now a Bed & Breakfast inn.

• Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, the first brick church in the region. Built in 1862, it features Gothic revival architecture and is currently the home of the Lancaster County Society for Historical Preservation and is on the National Landmark Register.

• Lancaster County Courthouse was designed by Robert Mills in 1825-1828. The Courthouse

Battle of Buford Monument
Battle of Buford Monument
is on the National Landmark Register.

• The Old Lancaster County Jail, used from 1823-1979 as the county jail, is also a national landmark. It was designed by Robert Mills.

Famous Lancastrians include: Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States of America; Charles Duke, astronaut; Nina Mae McKinney, actress and Broadway star; Elliott White Springs, textile industrialist; and Dr. J. Marion Sims, who is known as the "father of modern gynecology."


The Lancaster County Seal is unique because it is different than most official seals in other governing bodies. It was designed by Joseph Croxton in 1973.

The irregular shape of Lancaster County itself is used for the field of the seal. The red, white, and blue of the field represent our nation’s colors and are in honor of all those brave and patriotic citizens of Lancaster County who gave their lives in the defense of their homes and country, and who may be called upon to do so in the future.

The four white stars on the blue field symbolize the original four counties. Prior to 1767, the province of South Carolina, one of the original 13 colonies, was divided into four counties: Craven, Berkeley, Colleton, and Granville. Present day Lancaster County was located in Craven County. In 1768, South Carolina was divided into seven judicial districts with Lancaster being placed in the Camden district. On March 12, 1785, Lancaster County officially was born when the seven judicial districts were divided into counties. Camden District was divided into seven counties: Lancaster, York, Chester, Richland, Fairfield, Claremont,

and Clarendon.

The 13 blue stars at the base of the shield symbolize that Lancaster County was part of the original 13 American Colonies.

Geologically, Lancaster County lies over a great slab of granite. The field or shape of the County is shown raised by shading on the right side to impart a third dimension or thickness. The color of the shading symbolizes that the field was cut from a slab of native granite.

In the upper right of the shield, the red rose of Lancaster, England, is shown, not as a dominant feature, but to symbolize the County’s history from its origin when our ancestors and original settlers migrated from this area of England to America and to South Carolina.

The scrolls of gold cord intertwining and rising on each side to support the date of our County’s birth (1785) symbolizes the nearly 400 years of history form the first Lancaster of England which was created in 1399 by the ruling family of England. The House of Lancaster, founded by King Henry IV, to the birth of Lancaster County, South Carolina in 1785.

The shape of the shield is a modified lozenge, with a white background. The border of gold symbolizes that Lancaster County was an important producer of gold from 1827-1942. The Haile Gold Mine alone has yielded gold with a total value of more that $7 million. At one time, it was the largest gold mine east of the Mississippi River. Over the gold border, black letters, Lancaster County, South Carolina are shown in the colonial style to implement the historical theme of the design. The blue outer border is used to frame the seal.