r e f e r e n c e

History | Vital Records | Horry Libraries



Horry County was named for Revolutionary War hero Peter Horry (1743-1815). The county was originally a part of Georgetown District, and at one time it was called Kingston. It became a separate county in 1801, with the county seat at Conway.

This area of the state was isolated for many years by numerous rivers and swamps, and the inhabitants sometimes referred to themselves as the "Independent Republic of Horry." Lumber and naval stores were the primary industries during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with tobacco farming being introduced later. In the twentieth century tourism has come to dominate the coastal section of the county centered around Myrtle Beach.


Birth records

South Carolina did not require birth certificates until 1 January 1915. These records are still held by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), J. Marion Sims Building, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201, (803) 734-4830. Direct mail queries to DHEC.

Federal records:

Federal Census. Population Schedules. South Carolina, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920. Indexed. The census schedules list the age of the individual, enabling the researcher to estimate an approximate year of birth. The 1900 schedule includes the month and year of birth.

County records:

Horry County. Clerk of Court Other Than Court or Mesne Conveyance Records. Delayed Certificates for Births prior to 1915; 3 v., 1939-1960.

Marriage records

The state required marriage licenses beginning 1 July 1911. The probate judge 's office in the county courthouse holds licenses issued before 1950. Both the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the county courthouse have copies of licenses issued after 1 July 1950. You can find addresses and telephone numbers for county courthouses in Elizabeth Petty Bentley, County Courthouse Book (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1990), call number: CS 44.B3

More information on scattered sources for marriages and a general history of record keeping on the subject can be found in Ruth S. Green and Charles H. Lesser, "South Carolina Marriage Records", South Carolina Historical Magazine 79 (April 1978): 155-62, call number: F 266.S58.

Brent H. Holcomb has abstracted and published marriages listed in the Journal of the Court of Ordinary, 21 December 1764-29 August 1771, and many of the marriages recorded in the Miscellaneous Record series of the Secretary of State. See South Carolina Marriages, 3 vols (1688-1820), (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980), call number: F 268.H64.

Related marriage records may be found in renunciations of dower and marriage settlements. Records of marriages may be found in county deed of conveyance books and estate record books; records of these marriages, however, are usually unindexed.

Divorce records

Although divorce before 1868 was not legal, a legislative act or the district courts of equity could grant divorce or separate maintenance but did so only rarely. From 1868 to 1878, when a legislative statute again outlawed it, divorce could be obtained in the courts of common pleas. Divorce was legalized in 1950, and the office of the clerk of court in the county where the divorce was granted holds those records. Since July 1962, duplicate divorce records have been filed with DHEC.

Death records

Death certificates were required beginning 1 January 1915 and are restricted from the public for fifty years. The Archives has the certificates from 1915 to the year before the fifty year restriction. DHEC holds certificates after the fifty year restriction.

Federal Census. Mortality Schedules. South Carolina, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880. Indexes, 1850, 1860. These census schedules list those persons who died during the twelve months preceding 1 June of the census year. The census, arranged by county, lists the name of the decedent, age, sex, race, marital status, birth place, occupation, cause of death, and month of death.

Additional death records may be found in individual county estate papers, will books, and estate record books; usually, however, these records give only an approximate date of death.

Church records

Parish registers from churches can provide information on birth and death dates, and marriages. Parish registers of a few early South Carolina churches are extant and some have been published. Published histories of churches occasionally include lists of births, marriages, or deaths.

Records of Baptist Churches are available at Baptist Historical Collection, Furman University Library, Furman University, Greenville, S.C. 29613, and records of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches are available at the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, P.O. Box 849, Montreat, N.C. 28757, (704) 669-7061. For lists of holdings, please consult Furman University Library, Baptist Historical Collection: Church Records on Microfilm (Greenville, S.C.: Furman University Library, [1992]), call number CD 3509.F8 or Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, South Carolina Records (Montreat, N.C.: Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, [1992] ), call number CD 3509.H5. For listings of other sources for South Carolina church records please consult the following articles:

  • Childs, Margaretta and Leland, Isabella G. "South Carolina Episcopal Church Records." South Carolina Historical Magazine 84 (October 1983): 250-63.
  • Clayton, J. Glen. "South Carolina Baptist Records." South Carolina Historical Magazine 85 (October 1984): 319-27.
  • Cote, Richard N. "South Carolina Presbyterian Records." South Carolina Historical Magazine 85 (April 1984): 145-52.
  • Cote, Richard N. "South Carolina Religious Records: Other Denominations." South Carolina Historical Magazine 86 (January 1985): 50-61. Includes the following churches: African Methodist Episcopal Church; Congregational, Unitarian and Universalist Churches; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); French Protestant (Huguenot) Church; Jews; Lutheran Church; Roman Catholic Church; Society of Friends (Quakers)


Horry County Library
1008 Fifth Avenue
Conway, SC 29526-4354
(843) 248-1543
(843) 248-1548 (Fax)

Horry County Library Branches:

    Aynor Branch Library
    500 9th Avenue
    Aynor, SC 29511
    843-358-3324 (Fax)

    Bucksport Library
    7657 Highway 701 South
    Conway, SC 29527
    843-397-1951 (Fax)

    Loris Library
    4316 Main St.
    Loris, SC 29569
    843-756-1988 (Fax)

    North Myrtle Beach Library
    799 2nd Ave., North
    North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
    843-249-1700 (Fax)

    Socastee Branch Library
    4505 Socastee Blvd.
    Units H & I
    Myrtle Beach, SC 29575
    843-293-2304 (Fax)

    Stephens Crossroad Branch Library
    107 Highway 57 North
    Little River, SC 29566

    Surfside Branch Library
    410 Surfside Drive
    Surfside Beach, SC 29579
    843-238-4273 (Fax)

Chapin Memorial Library
(The only municipal library in South Carolina;
not affiliated with the Horry County Library.)
400 14th Avenue North
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577-3612
(843) 918-1275
(843) 918-1288 (Fax)

Last revised Monday, 09-Jun-2003 21:15:21 MDT.

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