The first successful English settlement in South Carolina was established in 1670 in what is now known as Charleston. The settlement was named Charles Towne in honor of King Charles II of England.
Barnwell County, located in the southwestern part of South Carolina, has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1785. The county was named after Revolutionary War hero John Barnwell, who played a significant role in the defense of the colony against Native American attacks. The early settlers in the region were largely farmers and pioneers, attracted by the fertile land and abundant natural resources.

During the antebellum period, Barnwell County became a major center for agriculture, with large plantations producing cotton, rice, and indigo. Slavery was widespread, and the county's economy heavily depended on the labor of enslaved African-Americans. Barnwell County also played a significant role in the secessionist movement leading up to the Civil War, with many residents supporting the Confederate cause.

Following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, Barnwell County faced economic challenges and social upheaval. Reconstruction brought significant change, including the establishment of public schools and limited political representation for African Americans. However, the county also experienced racial tensions and the rise of white supremacist organizations, such as the Red Shirts.

In the early 20th century, Barnwell County's economy diversified beyond agriculture. The county became home to several industries, including timber, textiles, and nuclear energy. The Savannah River Site, a major nuclear facility, was established in the county during the Cold War era. Today, Barnwell County continues to develop its economic potential, while preserving its rich history and natural beauty for future generations.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Barnwell County, South Carolina.

  • 1785: Barnwell County is established and named after John Barnwell, an officer in the Revolutionary War.
  • 1810: The town of Barnwell is established as the county seat.
  • 1850s: Barnwell County becomes a major producer of cotton thanks to the fertile soil and enslaved labor.
  • 1861-1865: Barnwell County actively participates in the American Civil War, with many residents serving in the Confederate Army.
  • Late 19th century: The economy of Barnwell County diversifies with the growth of timber and phosphate mining industries.
  • Early 20th century: Barnwell County experiences growth in agriculture with the cultivation of crops such as tobacco and peaches.
  • 1951: The Savannah River Site, a major nuclear facility, is established in Barnwell County, bringing jobs and economic development.
  • 1986: A nuclear waste leak at the Savannah River Site raises concerns about environmental risks in Barnwell County.
  • Present: Barnwell County is focused on revitalizing its economy and promoting tourism, while preserving its historical heritage.