Walterboro City

Colleton County, South Carolina

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Walterboro Town Hall is located at 242 Hampton Street, Walterboro, SC 29488.
Phone: 843‑549‑2545.


Beginnings [1]

Walterboro was one of several South Carolina pineland villages settled during the early 19th century by planters in search of a healthful climate. Situated about 32 miles inland from the Atlantic coast on a tract of pineland in Saint Bartholomew's Parish, Walterboro had become, by the year 1800, a summer retreat for the low country rice planters. The original settlement is said to have been known as Ireland Creek, taking its name from the creek which flows southwestwardly along the original northwestern town limit. A diary account ca. 1800 tells of some 14 families who "paying a collector a small sum for an acre," built and "resorted there" in simple cabins made "of logs ... backed and lined with clapboard." This account and a widely accepted local tradition hold that the village acquired its name, with the early spelling Walterborough, from Paul and Jacob Walter, brothers and low country planters, who, in 1783, built the first house in the town.

Walterboro was made the seat of justice for Colleton District in 1817 by an act of the State Legislature; a courthouse was constructed by 1822. Residences were widely scattered. An 1832 description of the town mentions a summer population of about 900 and a winter population of about 1/2 that number, "a handsome courthouse, a gaol, an Episcopal, a Presbyterian, and a Methodist church, a library, market house and a male and female academy." Streets were laid out in 1839.

The town's steady development after its designation as the county seat, which insured political and social prestige, was curtailed only during the Civil War. After the war, Walterboro became a gathering place for deposed Ashepoo, Edisto and Combahee planters, so that during the period of Reconstruction, the town again exhibited signs of renewed growth. By 1880 Walterboro had 13 stores and 8 churches.

Walterboro's situation at a crossroads between Augusta and up country South Carolina and coastal cities such as Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah, and between the northern states and Florida, was influential in maintaining its prosperity. The Green Pond, Walterboro and Branchville Railroad began service in March, 1887. By the mid 1890s Walterboro had the largest railway station on the line between Charleston and Savannah. In 1895 Walterboro, with a population of 1,500, continued to serve as a summer or permanent home for many planters, but it was also described as a prosperous town containing industries which included saw mills, a rice mill and nearby phosphate mines. Sanborn Insurance Maps of Walterboro in 1905 depicted the Colleton Cotton Mills,the Walterboro Cotton Oil Company, and Cummins Iron Works and Supply Company.

  1. Historic Preservation Division Staff, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Walterboro Historic District, Colleton County, SC, nomination document, 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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