"South Carolina Jurisdictions and History"
South Carolina Jurisdictions and History In order to understand the origin of John Godbold in South Carolina, where his land was and where he was located at different times, it is necessary to understand something about the County, District, Township and Parish systems. Jo Church Dickerson, a noted Genealogist, Historian and Author for over thirty years in South Carolina has prepared this information. South Carolina Jurisdictions and History (Revised) This brief summary was originally written in 2002 as a note to assist Ed Godbold in his Godbold family research and in gaining an understanding of how the jurisdictions in South Carolina functioned and progressed. It was a very informal effort, and was never meant to be anything other than a personal discussion with Ed. A short time later I was asked to post it on the Godbold Boards at Yahoo which I agreed to. Since 2002, I have discovered errors in my original document, and have come to regret the informal style of the paper. This version attempts to correct some of the major errors made in the original document. Though the chatty style has been left pretty much as it was originally, I have made other minor changes such as cleaning up typos, syntax, unnecessary details, etc. Jo Church Dickerson, 2005. Here goes my best effort to simplify matters (regarding South Carolina divisions and jurisdictions). I know how complex it is. I've been working in South Carolina genealogy for over 30 years, and there are still many complexities that I don't grasp. But anyone who is going to make any attempt to do genealogical research in South Carolina needs to at least make the effort to understand some of these complexities. Else how can you ever begin to understand where someone was located, or where to look for records for that time period? All below references (whether stated or not) are to locations in South Carolina. (Williamsburgh herein always means in South Carolina, never Virginia.) What is now Marion County initially lay in Craven County, South Carolina CRAVEN COUNTY, South Carolina was one of the three original counties that South Carolina was divided into, from Atlantic coast westward. It included all that part of South Carolina that lay between Sewee (a little below Santee River) and the North Carolina province line. It included what was to become Marion County, Williamsburgh County, Georgetown District and much more. It was vast. There was never any county government or court connected to Craven County, and it was never much more than a geographical nametag, to be used when granting lands, and to confuse future generations. ALL South Carolina records generated in this early time period were recorded in Charleston (at least, those that got carried to Charleston for recording - most people just did not make that trip). These records are extant (not lost or destroyed) for the most part, and can be found either at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) in Columbia, or in the original jurisdiction in Charleston. 21 We are fortunate that most if not all of the early land grants and plats (surveys) to the grants, and many related documents such as petitions and memorials are extant, and available at SCDAH. But most deeds from the hinter parts just were not recorded at all. PRINCE GEORGE WINYAH (or Winyaw) PARISH (not to be confused with Saint George Parish in lower South Carolina) was created in 1721 from St. James Santee Parish. St. James Santee had encompassed all of Craven County. Please note date of formation. When John Godbold witnessed the 1729 deed in St. James Santee, what is now Marion was no longer in St. James Santee Parish, but was in Prince George Winyah Parish. South Carolina had been divided in 1706 into various Church of England or Anglican Parishes. Parishes were sometimes divided into smaller ones, as their populations increased. These parishes co-existed with the colonial counties and the later districts, sometimes overlapping various county and district lines. (I have seen several maps on the web that may be helpful in understanding the parishes, though there is also some incorrect data out there, as well - go to google.com & search on South Carolina parishes, or on specific parish.) They functioned not merely as Church of England parishes, but also as voting precincts and for jury selections, as tax-collecting jurisdictions, and in 1790 the parish designations were used in the census enumeration. South Carolina law was that all marriages and baptisms were to be performed by an Anglican minister, and recorded in the parish register book, whether the people were church members or not. Everyone was to be recorded. Of course, most people in the back country, not being Anglicans, ignored this requirement entirely. Prince George Winyah Parish included ALL of what became Georgetown District, including the modern counties of Georgetown, Marion, Williamsburgh, Dillon, Horry, and parts of Florence. The early Prince George Parish Register book which contained ministers' lists of baptisms and marriages was lost. PRINCE FREDERICK WINYAH PARISH was cut from Prince George in 1734. Please note that it was never "part of" Prince George as someone has written. It was created FROM Prince George, specifically from the western part of Prince George Parish. In my original paper I wrote: "Nothing on the eastern side of Catfish Creek ever was in Prince Fred's Parish." That sentence was in error. Reality seems to have been a bit more complicated than that, and I regret having made that blanket statement. It is clear that all of what would become Florence County - west of Great Pee Dee River - was in Prince Fred's Parish. But further research has shown that east of Great Pee Dee River - including along Catfish Creek - lay confusion. The facts (as gleaned from the South Carolina Statutes at Large, From Bishop Alexander Gregg's History of the Old Cheraws, and from various other sources such as appellate court cases, land grants, tax lists, etc.) are that the dividing line between Prince George Winyah Parish and Prince Frederick Winyah Parish, from the time Prince Fred was first created in 1734, has been problematic. There are indications that the problems were never completely resolved. This has led to much confusion over the years, including my own. As one South Carolina Justice wrote in an early appellate case, the parish boundary lines "wandered in the mazes of supposition" and were impossible for officials, surveyors, or even the courts to understand. At first the line was left unresolved by the Legislative Act that formed the parish. Later it was extended through what is now Marion and Dillon Counties, splitting that section in two, from Pee Dee River in the south to the North 22 Carolina Province line in the north. There were petitions and counter-petitions regarding moving the parish line to run with Great Pee Dee River. I have been unable to find any record that the controversy was ever resolved. It seems that we, in what was to become Marion County, were definitely wandering in those jurisdictional mazes of supposition. Generally though, tax lists, jury lists and other records of the mid to late 1700s usually tend to indicate that residents between Great and Little Pee Dee Rivers were considered to reside in Prince George Winyah Parish. The fact that John Godbold's marriage was recorded in Prince Fred's Parish Register Book does not necessarily mean that Godbold and family traveled to the Church. A study of the pattern of entries in the Register Book indicates that when the Anglican ministers of Prince Fred's Parish traveled up into the hinterlands for some marrying and baptizing work, they married those they encountered who had not been married in the church, and baptized their children. That would seem to be the case with the marriage of John Godbold and Elizabeth Haines, and the baptism of their son John Jr. It does NOT necessarily mean that they were members of the Anglican Church. It does not even necessarily mean that they resided in Prince Fred's Parish at that time. A number of people who were believed to have resided in Prince George Parish are listed as married or baptized in the Prince Fred Register book. It is also interesting in this regard to note that the church for Prince Frederick Winyah Parish was located far from what was to become Marion, and near the coast. In fact some petitioners who lived in Prince Frederick Parish stated in their petition that they had to pass the Prince George Church to get to their own church of Prince Fred's! For some background on all this, see Carolina Back Country on the Eve of the Revolution by Rev. Charles Woodmason, an Anglican minister in South Carolina. GEORGETOWN DISTRICT was one of the judicial districts into which South Carolina was divided in 1768/1769. It included all of what are now the modern counties of Marion, Georgetown, Williamsburgh, Dillon, Horry, and parts of Florence. After the War of Regulation in South Carolina (see below) a law was passed dividing South Carolina into various Judicial Districts, of which Georgetown District was one. This law also allowed the establishment of courts and various elected officials in the districts. Most of the districts built courthouses of a sort (the one for the old Cheraws District was made of logs), but Georgetown District (along with at least one of the other judicial districts) opted not to build a courthouse at that time, and so court continued to be held at Charleston for Georgetown District residents, and legal documents were recorded in Charleston until after the Revolutionary War. "Georgetown District" replaced "Craven County" as the geographical location mentioned in the descriptions of land conveyances, but Craven County was still used on occasion. In 1769 the area that was to become Marion County lay in Craven County, and in Prince George Winyah and/or Prince Frederick Parishes, and in Georgetown District of South Carolina all at once. It was soon to get even more complicated. All records were still required to be recorded in Charleston. It was not until 1785/86 that records began being recorded at the courthouse built at Georgetown. (It is an important part of South Carolina history that in about 1765 there was a major political upheaval in South Carolina, called the War of Regulation or War of the Regulators, 23 which lasted for several years. Somewhat complex, it involved people in many parts of the province, and there was a very active group of regulators in what was to become Marion County. They were referred to in some documents as having gathered near Mars Bluff on Pee Dee River. The primary issue of the War of Regulation was that people in the back country were sick and tired of being ruled from afar - that is, from Charleston. They had to go all the way to Charleston, over 100 miles, to record deeds, to sue someone in court, to file a petition for land, etc. But Charleston was too far away to do them any good, to protect them from outlaw elements of which there were plenty in the back country, and so on and so forth, and so there was open rebellion. I suggest another search on google.com for more on the Regulators, and the role of people of the Marion area. And again, see Woodmason, cited above, for more details.) LIBERTY COUNTY - in 1785, after the Revolutionary War ended, South Carolina was once again divided into counties. These counties were cut from within the larger 1769 judicial districts and remained part of those larger districts, of which Georgetown District was one. The courthouse was built at Georgetown, and court was held there for all the counties that now comprised Georgetown District. Those new counties - including Liberty County and the precursors of Georgetown, Williamsburgh, and Horry- all began recording legal documents at the new Georgetown District Courthouse about 1785/1786. Liberty County covered exactly the same area that Marion District was to cover 15 years later. Liberty was a county WITHIN Georgetown District. In 1785 all of South Carolina was divided into these counties-as part-of-larger-districts. Records for what was to become Marion and Williamsburgh and the other counties whose area lay within the old Georgetown District were recorded in Georgetown from about 1785/86 until 1800. Those Georgetown records were lost during the Civil War, when they were shipped inland to avoid Sherman's army, which was expected to march up the coast from Savannah. Sherman, however, fooled them, taking a middle course through South Carolina; burning the Chesterfield Courthouse where the Georgetown records had been shipped. All Chesterfield (Old Cheraws District) and Georgetown records were lost in the fire. (To add to all this county/district confusion, there was a Marion County, South Carolina created by the 1785 act, and dissolved about 1800. That early Marion County was located down near Charleston, and never had any connection whatsoever to what was to become the modern Marion County.) In about 1800, the name of Liberty County was changed to MARION DISTRICT. Yes, District. And the counties that had been created in 1785 within the larger Districts were discarded. How can I explain this? In about 1798/1800 a new law was passed, changing the former counties (such as Liberty County) that the former districts (such as Georgetown District) had been divided into, into new Districts, and the old Districts were discontinued. The new judicial entities were designated as Districts, NOT counties. Thus, from 1800 until 1868, there was no Marion County; rather, it was Marion District. It included what became modern Marion County, Dillon County (which was cut off in 1910), and land on west side of Great Pee Dee River, which became Florence County in 1888. The Marion Courthouse was built in 1800/01, and records began being recorded there at that time. Most of those records are extant; many have been microfilmed and are available from the Marion County Archives 24 and History Center, from the South Carolina Archives and History Center in Columbia, or from the LDS Church Libraries. MARION COUNTY came into existence in 1868, when all the South Carolina districts were changed to counties. Thus Marion County was finally created from Marion District in 1868. I have no detailed information on the formation of Williamsburgh County, Horry County, etc., but they followed a path and timeline of development similar to Marion. Information on the formation of those counties is widely available. Now, in all the above I have not even mentioned the formation of the South Carolina Townships. Whew.... THE TOWNSHIPS were a legislative scheme of the 1730s to entice people into the back country of South Carolina, primarily to increase the white Protestant population of the province in the less settled areas and to act as a buffer against the Indians. The townships were very large, consisting of upwards 10,000 acres and more. They were huge tracts, surveyed upon some of the major rivers in SC. The ones that concern us here were Queensborough Township on both sides of Great Pee Dee (largely in what became Marion County), and Williamsburgh Township on the Black River, centered at what became the town of Kingstree. The townships were to be set aside for granting to people just coming into the Province of SC, but it seems in practice most anyone could get a grant within their boundaries. These townships for the most part never kept any records, nor had any officials, etc. Several of them were the locations of later successful villages, e.g., Conwayborough grew out of Kingston Township on Waccamaw River, and Kingstree grew out of Williamsburgh Township. There is much to be found both online and in the various records about Williamsburgh Township and its settlers, many of whom were Ulster Scots who came in a large group to that area. (See Witherspoon family, especially. It was near Williamsburgh Township in what later became Williamsburgh County that John Godbold first settled, before moving up to Catfish Creek). At about the same time, in 1736, a large tract was surveyed and laid out on Great Pee Dee River, called the Welch Tract, to be set aside for Welch Baptist immigrants, most of whom would come from Delaware. It was similar in nature to the various townships. This first Welch Tract was laid out directly west of what would become the town of Marion, on both sides of Great Pee Dee River around the modern day town of Pee Dee, and stretched downriver to the northernmost Queensborough Township line, and in fact the plats show that the two tracts overlapped. But the Welch were unhappy with the quality of the land, and with the people they found already inhabiting the area, and they very soon petitioned for different lands. In response, South Carolina extended the Welch Tract on up Great Pee Dee River, and the Welch quickly settled primarily upriver in what became the Old Cheraw District, St. David's Parish (which was cut from Prince Fred's Parish), in present day Darlington and Marlboro Counties.. About Mars Bluff The lower, earlier Welch Tract (in what is now Florence and Marion Counties) was surveyed in 1736. On that plat, on the west side of the Great Pee Dee River, is shown a place called Mars Bluff. This is an actual bluff on the river. (As I have said to others trying to understand about the river features in our area - if it sticks up 3 feet out of the water, it is a bluff. 25 If it slopes into the river, it is a landing. All else is river swamp.) There was a Mars Bluff Ferry that operated near the bluff, the exact dates when the ferry was first established are unknown. It seems to have begun probably in the early to mid 1700s. Mars Bluff is also an informal name given to the large community on the west side of Great Pee Dee, now in Florence County, generally between the river and the city of Florence, and between Jeffrey's Creek to the south & Black Creek to the north (not to be confused with Black River in Williamsburgh County). That whole area is still widely referred to by many locals as "Mars Bluff" and when Mars Bluff is stated locally, that is generally what is meant. There was also a small crossroads called Mars Bluff RR Depot, and a post office there of the same name, in the late 1900s - it was near the crossroads shown on maps now as Winona. But none of these existed in the 1740s, or even during John Godbold's lifetime, with the possible exception of the ferry at Mars Bluff. There has been mention made in various Godbold genealogies of John Godbold, Jr. being born at Mars Bluff. I have not seen any source cited for this statement, and so far as I can determine nothing has ever been found in any record to substantiate that John Junior was born at Mars Bluff, nor that John Godbold ever resided over there. The only documentation I have seen as to where Old John resided was in the 1758 deed to his sons, as posted on Bushy Hartman’s website, stating that he resided on the lower part of his 1757 grant on Catfish Creek. And Catfish Creek at that location (Town of Marion) is quite a few miles from the Great Pee Dee River, and from Mars Bluff. The above is all part of the information that any researcher needs to learn, bearing in mind always that there is an awful lot of misinformation online and elsewhere, especially regarding South Carolina jurisdictions. And that includes previous versions of this very paper you are reading! 26