Laurens County, South Carolina

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Laurens County, South Carolina

Leader of this Project is Paula J
Coordinator is Mary Richardson



The original inhabitants of this area were Cherokee Indians.[1]
1753 - First European here was John Duncan, from Aberdeen, Scotland, migrating from Pennsylvania. He settled near the current Newberry-Laurens County line. John Duncan liked the lush vegetation and abundant wildlife of this area, so he chose to settle near a creek in the NE part close to what is now known as Clinton, S.C. Duncan brought the first African-American slave and the first horse-drawn wagon to the area. [1]
1760's Duncan's settlement grew, so a church named Duncan's Creek Presbyterian Church formed. (oldest church for Laurens County). This church is still present today.[1]
Duncan's Creek Presbyterian Church.
1776-1782 Laurens County was the location of many battles and skirmishes during the American Revolution. These included the Battle of Musgrove Mill, Lindley's Fort, and Hammond's Store.[2]
Fort Lindley/Lindler
Widow Kellet's Block House
Musgrove's Mill
Farrow's Station
Duncan Creek Meeting House
Indian Creek
Hammond's Store
Mud Lick Creek
Hayes' Station. (Joe Goldsmith, State Historian, SC Soc., Sons of the American Revolution)
July 15, 1776 -Four important Revolutionary Battles took place in Laurens County. Patriot forces defeated an Indian/ Tory attack on Lindley's Fort near Rabun Creek. [1]
Lindley's Fort Battle of Lindley's Fort was part of a campaign by Loyalist and Cherokee forces as they tried to obtain the back country control from the Patriot forces in 1776 during the American Revolution. They involved the Cherokees took up arms as settlers were encroaching on their territory.
Lindley's Fort.
See Lt Jonathan Downs
Aug 18, 1780 - Battle of Musgrove's Mill rebels attacked the British and Tory forces with a victory in the 2-day battle. [1]
Dec 29, 1780 a Tory regiment was defeated at Hammond's Store which can be found near present-day Clinton. [1]
1881- Captain "Bloody Bill" Cunningham attacked a group of rebels killing 14 at Hayes Station (8 miles SW of Clinton) [1]
1785 After the war Revolutionary War, District 96 became the chief governmental unit for the backcountry. Laurens County was one of 6 counties formed from Dist. 96. It is named for the Revolutionary War patriot Henry Laurens of Charleston, SC, who was president of the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War, and later served as an ambassador to France to secure aid in helping the colonies with their independence.. The town of Laurens became the county seat.[2][1]
Mar 12, 1785 -The General Assembly passed an act on this date to form 6 counties from the old 96th District. First settlers were John Rogers, Charles Allen, Jonathan Downes who were requested in the 14th and 51st regiments to lay out a town. Scotch-Irish immigrants out of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia became the predominate settlers of the county.[1]
1786 History tradition says a delegation met at the distillery of John Rodgers to select the site for the county seat. The men, tested John Rodgers' distilled goods, then all climbed the hill and chose the courthouse site. They selected a site fairly close to water as wells having 5 roads from the upcountry converging near the courthouse. [1]
John Owings house.
1786 - Laurensville was voted to be the county seat. Later this town was renamed Laurens, S.C..[1]
1786 A wooden courthouse, also used as a church and a schoolhouse, was built.
1824 Laurens had become known for its trade of tailor-made clothes. Andrew Johnson, the future president of the United States, and his brother came to Laurens with his brotherin 1824 and established a tailor shop. [1][2]
Slavery Slavery on the Move
1837-38 An improved courthouse was built between during 1837, 1838 and enlarged in 1857 and 1911.[1]
1840 Medical offices, a confectionery, fruit store, carriage, buggy and wagon shops, tailor shops, builders, flour and corn mills along with 81 registered whiskey distillery could be found in this county.


Dr. William Claudius Irby House
James Duncan House.
May 1865 Confederate President Jefferson Davis was fleeing from Richmond and spent 2 days and a night in Laurens County. The Union troops passed through the County pursuing Confederate President Jefferson Davis.[1]
1867-70 During reconstruction the white residents of Laurens County resented enfranchisement of the newly freed African Americans. Many of the African Americans supported the Republican Party. The white people organized Democratic Clubs to intimidate the elections. This was the precursor of the Ku Klux Klan in the lower piedmont counties.[1]
1870 Laurens County Riot-African Americans fighting the whites near the courthouse square. [1]
1871 - Martial Law was established in Laurens County and 8 other S.C. Counties. [1]
1876 -Reconstruction ended. Wade Hampton III was elected as Governor. Lauren's county native William Dunlap Simpson was elected as Lt Governor and later served as Governor and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. [1]
1895 - Laurens Cotton Mill was established.[1]
1896 - Mercer Silas Bailey built a mill in 1896. Also mills began in Lydia, Watts and Joanna. Laurens sought to revive its economy by spinning cotton rather than simply growing it. By the turn of the century, textile manufacturing had become an important part of the Laurens County economy with the Laurens Cotton Mill established in 1895 and Mercer Silas Bailey building a mill in Clinton in 1896.
Lydia, Watts and Joanna mills also began operation. Companies built villages around the new textile mills to ensure workers had housing near the mills. The concept of mill villages enabled mills to give an economic incentive and added a social feature for the county.[1]
1880's and 1890's Education expanded in Laurens County. Pratt Suber became the first county superintendent of education in 1874. [1]
1880 Thornwell Presbyterian College, known also as Clinton College (or Presbyterian College) was established in 1880, and privately sponsored libraries were formed which evolved in to a county library in 1929.[1]
Thornwell Presbyterian College
1890's Railroads were built in the 1890's. Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad, the Columbia, Newberry and Laurens Railroad, and the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Railroad were some railways.[1]
World War II soldiers were trained on the campus of Presbyterian College and at a small airfield near Laurens.[1]
1940s - World War II, textiles and agriculture dominated the economy of Laurens county. Also a glass glass bottle manufacturing plants began and succeeded.[1]
Elementary education for children was still done in small one or two-room schools around the countryside. [1]
1950's, 1960's - Newer plants replaced the textiles.. Michelin, Milliken and Wal-Mart established large warehouse distribution center, Manufacturers to include CeramTec, Torrington, Avery Dennison and Norbord built plants. Automobile parts suppliers established facilities in N Laurens county at Fountain Inn to supply BMW's large upstate automobile plant. [1]
Retirement Centers have been built by three church denominations.[1]

Government Offices

1st Courthouse, 1786
First courthouse was built. [2] A wooden courthouse, also used as a church and a schoolhouse, was built. [1]

An improved courthouse was built between during 1837 and 1838 then enlarged in 1857 and enlarged again in 1911.[1] [2]

Current Laurens Co. courthouse.


Location - Laurens County is in the Piedmont Region of South Carolina
Topography: forests and gently rolling hills.
Rivers, lakes - The Enoree River separates Laurens from Spartanburg and Union Counties on the NE. Salada River and Lake Greenwood divide this county from that of Abbeville and Greenwood on SW

Other counties- Newberry County borders on the SE and Greenville on the NW.

Adjacent counties

  • Spartanburg County - north
Here's an image.
  • Union County - northeast
  • Newberry County - southeast
  • Greenwood County - south
  • Abbeville County - southwest
  • Anderson County - west
  • Greenville County - northwest

Protected areas


In 2000, there were 69,567 people living in the county with a population density of 97 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 71.57% White, 26.23% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 1.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.The median income for a household in the county was $33,933, and the median income for a family was $39,739. Males had a median income of $30,402 versus $21,684 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,761. About 11.60% of families and 14.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.60% of those under age 18 and 13.50% of those age 65 or over.[3]

  • As of May 2012, the county unemployment rate was 9.5%


  • I-26 (SC). Interstate 26
  • I-385 (SC) Interstate 385
  • US 25 U.S. Route 25
  • US 76 U.S. Route 76
  • US 221 U.S. Route 221
  • South Carolina 72 South Carolina Highway 72
  • South Carolina 418 South Carolina Highway 418


  • 3 Public school districts in the county.
Laurens County District 55 covers the NE half of the county.
District 56 covers the southwestern half.
Ware Shoals area covered by the multi-county Greenwood County District 51.
2 Public high schools in the county: Laurens (in Dist. 55) and Clinton (in Dist. 56.)
Public K-12 education includes Hickory Tavern Elementary, Ford Elementary, Gray Court-Owings, E.B. Morse, Hickory Tavern Middle, Laurens Middle, and Sanders Middle.
Private K-12 education includes Laurens Academy.
Presbyterian College, located in Clinton, is a four-year liberal-arts school founded in 1880.


Towns/Census Des Places/Uninco Communities

Census des

Uninc Communities

County Resources


1790 --- 9,337 —
1800 --- 12,809 37.2%
1810 --- 14,982 17.0%
1820 --- 17,682 18.0%
1830 --- 20,863 18.0%
1840 --- 21,584 3.5%
1850 --- 23,407 8.4%
1860 --- 23,858 1.9%
1870 --- 22,536 −5.5%
1880 --- 29,444 30.7%
1890 --- 31,610 7.4%
1900 --- 24,311 −23.1%
1910 --- 26,650 9.6%
1920 --- 42,560 59.7%
1930 --- 42,094 −1.1%
1940 --- 44,185 5.0%
1950 --- 46,974 6.3%
1960 --- 47,609 1.4%
1970 --- 49,713 4.4%
1980 --- 52,214 5.0%
1990 --- 58,092 11.3%
2000 --- 69,567 19.8%
2010 --- 66,537 −4.4%
Est. 2016 --- 66,777
  • James Adair, (c.1709–c.1783), historian, resided in Laurens County in later life.[16]
  • Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, worked as a tailor in Laurens during the 1820s.
  • William Y. Thompson (born 1922), historian, resided in Clinton from 1950-1955.
  • William Dunlap Simpson, 78th Governor of S.C., Chief Justice of S. C. Supreme Court from 1880-1890.
  • Pat Cannon, United States Representative from Florida; raised in Laurens County



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