Early Orangeburg History
Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce

The earliest settlers in the Orangeburg District were a few Indian traders and scattered grazers, who sought wild pastures for herds of cattle. Records indicate that the first to obtain a grant of land was Henry Sterling, a trader, who settled on Lyon's Creek in 1704. The first to settle in the area now occupied by the City of Orangeburg was a John Hearn, whose lands in 1732 included the present Fairgrounds and whose deed was recorded May 28, 1735.

Between these few settlers and the coast was an almost impassable morass of underbrush and swamps; consequently, those seeking homes had little interest in a region so isolated.

To encourage settlement, the General Assembly in 1730 (by royal authority) established eleven townships of 20,000 acres each in the shape of a parallelogram 15 x 5 miles along the banks of the chief rivers, including the Pon Pon or Edisto. Orangeburgh Township was given its name by Lieutenant- Governor Thomas Broughton, who named it in honor of William IV, Prince of Orange and husband of Princess Anne, daughter of George II of England.

The settlers of Orangeburgh District and town were mostly German-Swiss, who began arriving in 1735 and continued to reach the district for several years before the movement ended. According to The Gazette (July 26), about 220 who had paid their passage were going up the Edisto at government expense with provisions for noe year. Each family head was to receive a lot and fifty acres in the township for each member in the family.

The lots in Orangeburgh had already been marked off and numbered and several streets had been named. In fact, there were seventeen streets including one running along the riverfront. The center was named Broughton for the Lieutenant Governor; others were named in honor of His Majesty's Council (Middleton, Broad, Wragg, Skein, Wright, Bull and Fenwick). Amelia and Saxe-Gotha Streets were named for other townships. Russell Street was named for Capt. Charles Russell, commander of the Rangers, who protected the early settlers from both Indians and white outlaws.

In 1768 the Province was divided into seven precincts of districts, the third being called the Precinct of Orangeburg. It contained three townships: Orangeburgh (Orange Parish), Amelia (Parish of St. Matthews), and Saxe-Gotha (Lexington - 1804). Originally, the district included all of the present counties of Orangeburg, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Lexington, and the larger part of Aiken. It extended from the Savannah to the Santee and from Charleston and Beaufort districts to present day Edgefield.


 

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