Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on May 2, 2014 in Research
City Hall and Court House in Charleston, South Carolina
City Hall and Court House in Charleston, South Carolina

South Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies; it was the first state to secede from the Union and one of the first to rejoin the Union.

First explored in the 1500s by the Spanish and French it was also later settled by the English, Dutch and Scots-Irish.

Charles Town, first settled in 1680 (and renamed Charleston in 1783) was one of the first pre-planned towns in North America and was the capital of the state until 1790.  Columbia became the capital in 1790 and still is today.

South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State after its state tree.  The tree was added to its state flag when it seceded in 1861.

South Carolina played an important catalyst role in the Civil War. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina was the first state to secede, and first to ratify the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The first shots of the Civil War were fired as the Union ship “Star of the West” tried to reinforce Fort Sumter.  In 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops cut a swath through South Carolina leaving a path of destruction in its wake, and burned the capital city of Columbia.

Our new free state guide, “South Carolina Resources: Family History Sources in the Palmetto State,” has an overview and timeline of the state, along with resources to explore when searching for your South Carolina ancestors. Guides for other states are also available in the Learning Center under Free State Research Guides.

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

1 Comment

  1. Annette Crawford

    Nicely done and provides a lot of info to people needed help with SC ancestors. I was born in SC, but my father was in the Army and moved us around. I finally returned in 1962 and have been here since. Would love to help anyone who needs data from SC.

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