Richland County, South Carolina

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Richland County, South Carolina



Early 1700's Columbia, SC was settled by Europeans in the early to mid 1700s.

1785 Richland County was formed as part of Camden District. Richland County was probably named for its "rich land." This county is also the state capital for South Carolina. Its county seat is Columbia, SC which is the largest city. Cotton from the surrounding plantations was shipped through Columbia and later manufactured into textiles there. . The South Carolina State House is located in downtown Columbia.[1]
Richland County, South Carolina logo
1786 South Carolina wanted to move the state capital from Charleston to a county in the center of the state. It chose Richland County due to its location in the geographic center of the state... A brand new town was surveyed and laid out.[1]
Dec. 18,1799 The County was incorporated by the legislature. [1]
Aug 15, 1780 The Patriots captured Carey's Fort, then learned of a Supply train from the British established post in Nine-Six was due to arrive soon. The Patriots surprised the supply train and captured it at Wateree Ferry.[2]
May 1, 1781 - Dragoons under Lt Col. Henry Hampton surprised provincials guarding Friday's Ferry, near Fort Granby. They killed 13 of the enemy. Sumter reported to the commanders that "the Hessian horse has gone Downward except 25 that Crossed from the fort at Motts and Went in to Camden with Major Doyl."
August 3, 1781 -British gained control of McCord's Ferry on the Congaree River.. Lt Col. Henry Lee (VA) was ordered by Major Gen. Nathanael Greene to strike at the British line of communication from Orangeburgh to Charlestown. McCord's Ferry was near there. So Lt Col. Lee and 60 men went around behind the British to cross the river. His calvary dispersed 32 wagons escorted by 300 men near the Orangeburgh garrison. Although the escort lead fell some, Lt. Col Lee's men stopping as the British did not yield. Lt Col. Lee captured 20 British.[3]
1785 - Richland county was created due to inland areas' requests. The county was created and named for its good soil near the Congaree River. An alternative source for the name is a plantation named this which was owned by Thomas Taylor and many regard as the father of Richland County. Columbia was planned, laid out and soon the lawmakers literally packed up to transfer the State operations from Charleston to rather a wilderness setting on the banks of the Congaree River.[4]
1786 the state legislature decided to move the capital from Charleston to a more-central location. This also would be less dangerous if a hurricane occurred..A site was chosen in Richland County, which is in the geographic center of the state, and a new town was laid out. Columbia subsequently became not only the center of government but an important trade and manufacturing center.[4]
1791 - Richland county lost some land for the legislature to create Kershaw County.


Alston House.
Slavery Slavery on the Move
1790's Richland's original court house was built at Horrell Hill, located 12 miles east of present-day Columbia[4]
1800 -Due to the lawyers eagerness to conduct business in the state capital, the little town of Columbia was growing with county affairs occurring.[4]
1801 - South Carolina College began in Columbia. Not many villages or activity occurred in the first half of the 1800's.[4]
1842 - the Railway network began. When finished this made Richland County a regional crossroads.[4]
1850 General Wade Hampton planted cotton 6-7 miles from Columbia, Richland County. The crop yielded 600 bags of cotton (250-300 lbs) without fertilizer. Soon the cotton gin was invented that this great planter was one of the first to make use of the gin and its significance. The part of Richland in the hills of "the Dutch Fork" between Broad and Saluda rivers is peopled by a race of small farmers who sustain themselves at home and set an example to others everywhere.[4]
1854 Columbia, SC was chartered as a city. The city of Columbia was named for Christopher Columbus. This city was the first planned city, with wide streets planned in a grid patter. It was also the second planned city of the United States- as Savannah, Georgia was the first planned city. [1]
O'Donnell House
1857 Dr. J. W. Parker, superintendent of the State Hospital in the State Park planted and cultivated sand hill land. It produced 359 bushels of corn on 2 acres, 1 acre having 200 bushels and 12 quarts of corn. This crop was a world record.
Another area of the State Park of sandhills was cultivated after clearing away black jack timber This 135 acres sandy land produced 20-40 bushels/acre.
1860 - Columbia had population of 8,000, making this the largest inland town in the Carolinas.[4]
Feb 17, 1865 - General William T. Sherman and the Union army captured Columbia during the Civil War. His Union troops burned some of the county and the town of Columbia. [1]
Columbia burning, Feb 17, 1865
1870 County population growth slowed down, population went from 23,000 in 1870 to 78,000 by 1900.The growing city of Columbia, county seat, and state capital gives a market for the peaches, berries, melons, grains and the timbers that are harvested from the swamps.[4]
1908 Columbia, SC did not have paved streets until Main Street was paved. [5]
1917 The U. S. Army returned to Columbia. Fort Jackson was created, which is not the largest army post and most active for the initial or beginning Entry Training Center for the U.S. Army., when Fort Jackson was established, which is now the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army.[4]
map of Richland County.
1930's there was a drop in population due to the depression and drought as well as problems with the boll weevil The agricultural type community began to shift when suburbs, shopping centers, industrial and commercial building began.[4]
Columbia, SC is in the center of South Carolina, near the junctions of Highways I-20, I-26, and I-77. This has the honor of having the state capital located here, the County Seat of Richland County and the University of South Carolina has its main campus here.. is located in the center of South Carolina at the junctions of Interstates 20, 26 and 77. It is South Carolina's most populated city, the county seat of Richland County as well as being the state capital,. [6]

Columbia, SC
Richland county history parallels the history of Columbia. Some of the Southern fine old houses, set in Oak groves, with an avenue approaching still remain in Columbia, SC. [4]
1980 Richland County had a population of 270,000 people. It started with 3,200 farms, and 50 years later only had 382 farms, which indicates citizens work with their opportunities and either change or expand.[4]
Columbia has the State Park located near the city which also houses the State Hospital for Negro patients Another part of the park houses the hospital for tuberculosis patients, which is maintained by the state. Two reformatories are there located 3 miles apart: one is for African American delinquent boys and a second is occupied by delinquent white girls. [4]
Clemson College experiment station of central south Carolina, 12 miles NE Twelve miles has begun operating on 500 acres to research and instruct fruit growing. It is thought fruit will grow in the sand hills.[4]

The Debacle of Building the State Capital

1852 South Carolina needed to build its state capital building.. It needed to be fireproof to securely house the records.SC's General Assembly set aside $50,000 to build the capital building with an architect, P.H. Hammerskold.

Richland County, SC

State Capital building in Richland colony, SC
1854 The legislature dismissed the architect due to concealing and dereliction of his duty"
Aug 3, 1854 - New Architect was appointed, named Niernsee checked Hammerskold's work, determined that Hammerskold had used defective materials.. The building was dismantled with a loss of $72,267.
Nov 27, 1864 Governor John Laurence Manning recommended building the capital with north and south exposure to be located at the intersections of Senate and Main Streets as he if they made if the location were changed the delay and the first building would not hamper the new building.. Soon the site was changed and wings were designed. Niernsee planned to complete the building in five years.[4]
1857 the building was rose to the top of the basement. [4]
Oct 1, 1860 Niernsee reported that the structure was 66 ft above the foot of the foundation with a value of work, costing $1,240,063. Its 64 Corinthian granite capitals were "in progress".
Feb 17, 1865 - CIVIL WAR Work on the new State House stopped when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's army destroyed Richland County and burned Columbia. Shells from General Sherman's cannons, which were of light calibre, damaged the building only slightly, and brass markers were subsequently placed on the west and southwest walls of the building to show where the shots had landed. Ten shots had been fired with 6 struck the western front and 4 hit into the the interior of the building.[4]
Columbia burning, Feb 17, 1865
1865 The fire destroyed the old State House. Niernsee reported it cracked five "bells of St. Michael's Church, Charleston," which had been "sent up here some time ago" and "deposited under one of the sheds." The fire burned the valuable State house library, offices, workshops and large amounts of materials and finished marble with value of $700,000. The fire also burned Niernsee's library of architectural and scientific books, engravings, and several thousand drawings from 25 years of practice. [4]
Several prints of a a perspective view and one full sized detail for a Corinthian capital survived. Nierness' plan did not have the dome that today's building has. Nearness' dome was to be finely proportioned 180 foot tower through the center of the building.. (Similar to a rectangular tall lantern, 30 feet square at the base. Niernsee died 1785. His associate J Crawford Neilson next began work. [4]
Oct 1, 1888 Niernsee's son, Frank Niernsee, began work on the interior until construction stopped in 1891.[4]
1900 Frank P. Milburn became the new architect, who hired the contracting firm of McIlvain and Unkefer to replace roof, build the present dome, north and south porticos for $175,000. Senator J. Q. Marshal, protested the appointment, and investigated with the State suing Milburn which ended in a mistrial. South Carolina's joint legislative committee consulted the designer of the United States Capitol, referred to the dome as: "No uglier creation could be devised," it lamented, "and it is nothing short of a miserable fraud."
April 8, 1904, the State elected another Charles C. Wilson of Columbia as architect who worked on the terrace and steps of the north front and made some changes, several years, costing $100,000. Wilson was a fan of Niernsee's design, felt Maj. John Niernsee design should be restored. All legislature expenditures are unavailable, but it may have cost #3,540,000 for the construction over the years. The granite for the building was taken from the Granby quarry, located 2 miles South of the State House.[4]
1995-98 The State House from foundation to dome is in better shape now. The renovations meet modern building code requirements, and retained its historic form and appearance. Most people will not see the structural improvements, the electrical wiring, alarm systems and the state of the art earthquake isolators that have been installed.. BUT all will see the renewal of the House and Senate chambers, the 19th century treatment of the lobby, vaulted brickwork in the hallways of the lower floor, restored marble floors and refurbished interior of the dome.[4]

Government Offices

The government of Richland County is governed by an eleven-member County Council, with concurrent four-year terms. Richland County is governed under the Council-Administrator form of government, similar to the Council-Manager form of government. The major difference is the title of the chief executive. Council Manager (chief executive) is Manager, while an Administrator serves for the Council- Administrator government.[7]

  • Richland's First court house was built at Horrell Hill, 12 miles east of present-day Columbia
Old, 1872 w/ 1906 addition.
Columbia, Richland, SC Courthouse, 19

New Courthouse

Richland co. Judicial Center.


Size 762-square-mile
Topography -lowland, sand hills, and rolling countryside
Richland is the Palmetto State in miniature.
Terrain - varied terrain
Major Crops -indigo, tobacco, wheat, rice, and cotton
751 square miles lying in the middle of the state
Location closer to the northern boundary than to the southern apex of the South Carolina triangle.
Soils all kinds of South Carolina soils help to make Richland.
The sand hills run through the county and divide it near Columbia to the northeast.
Red hill lands are in the north and northwest
Wide valleys and swamps to the south and east.
35% lands are Norfolk soil type
14% lands are Congaree first bottom
3% lands are Johnston first bottom
4% lands are Orangeburg
3% lands are Marlboro soil
18% lands are Georgeville.
Crops:- Anything from finest cotton to the finest peaches, berries, melons, grains, and grasses grow. In the swamps are noble timbers
Boundaries -
The Wateree River bounds it to the east
Congaree River to the southwest
Saluda and the Broad rivers, form the Congaree at Columbia, cut through it northwest and north.
Climate -invigorating, sometimes biting northern temperatures with dry winter air.
Soil -sand hills have been health resorts from the early days of the county's settlement.
Broad River
Congaree River
Lake Murray Little River]
Saluda River
Wateree River

Adjacent counties

  • Kershaw County - northeast
map of Richland in South Carolina
  • Fairfield County - north
  • Sumter County - east
  • Lexington County - west
  • Calhoun County - south
  • Newberry County - northwest

Protected areas


In 2010 there were 384,504 people living in the county with a population density of 507.9 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 47.3% white, 45.9% black or African American, 2.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.9% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 4.8% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 9.6% were German, 8.6% were English, 7.6% were Irish, and 7.1% were American. The median income for a household in the county was $47,922 and the median income for a family was $61,622. The per capita income for the county was $25,805. About 10.0% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.[8]

  • Public transportation in Richland County is provided by the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority.
  • Columbia paved roads run in all directions, sand clay roads supplementing the system.
  • Richland County is one of few counties across the country used as filming location for the A&E reality documentary series Live PD, in collaboration with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

High Schools

  • The county has 5 accredited high schools
  • Richland has 130 miles of railroads.
  • Columbia is headquarters of hydroelectric power developments and of these Richland County is the beneficiary. Power for factories may be had anywhere.



  • Columbia Richland County Seat and State Capital
Columbia, SC

Towns/Census Des Places/Uninco Communities
  • Category:Arcadia Lakes, Richland County, South Carolina|Arcadia Lakes
  • Category:Blythewood, Richland County, South Carolina|Blythewood (Partly in Fairfield County)
  • Category:Eastover, Richland County, South Carolina|Eastover (population 326)
  • Irmo (Mostly in Lexington County)


ArthurtownBallentineBoyden ArborCapitol View
Eau Claire (population 2,566)HarbisonHiltonHorrell Hill
KillianKingsville, South CarolinaLeesburgLykes
Mountain BrookOlympiaPontiacRiverside
Spring HillState ParkWatereeWindsor Estates
White Rock (population 88)Fairwold AcresCategory:Arden, South Carolina (population 924)


      • Dutch Fork
      • Fort Jackson
      • Intown
      • Lower Richland
      • Northeast Richland
      • Upper Richland

County Resources

  • Wade Hampton, III -Confederate General, Governor, and U.S. (1818-1902) was a resident of Richland County
  • President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) lived in Columbia as a boy.
  • William Harrison Scarborough (1812-1871) artist
  • Henry Timrod (1829-1867)- poet
  • James Dickey (1923-1997) poet
  • Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992) civil rights leader
  • Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996) religious leader
  • Charles Bolden astronaut


1790 --- 3,930 —
1800 --- 6,097 55.1%
1810 --- 9,027 48.1%
1820 --- 12,321 36.5%
1830 --- 14,772 19.9%
1840 --- 16,397 11.0%
1850 --- 20,243 23.5%
1860 --- 18,307 −9.6%
1870 --- 23,025 25.8%
1880 --- 28,573 24.1%
1890 --- 36,821 28.9%
1900 --- 45,589 23.8%
1910 --- 55,143 21.0%
1920 --- 78,122 41.7%
1930 --- 87,667 12.2%
1940 --- 104,843 19.6%
1950 --- 142,565 36.0%
1960 --- 200,102 40.4%
1970 --- 233,868 16.9%
1980 --- 269,735 15.3%
1990 --- 285,720 5.9%
2000 --- 320,677 12.2%
2010 --- 384,504 19.9%
Est. 2016 --- 409,549



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