The Waxhaws

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The Waxhaws
Lancaster County, South Carolina

Selections taken from Statistics of South Carolina including a view of its natural, civil and military history, general and particular by Robert Mills (1826):

History of the Settlement -- Origin of its name

   The first settlement was make in this district by emigrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia, about the year 1745, and called the Waxhaws, from the name of the creek on which the principal settlements were located (then supposed to be within the bounds of North Carolina).  These settlements were made in the neighbourhood of the Catawbas, then a powerful and warlike tribe of Indians, whose chief town was situate on the west side of Sugar creek, (more properly Sugaw, that being the ancient Indian name,) just opposite to the mouth of little Sugar creek.  The site of this ancient town is now in York district, and under cultivation in the plantation of Mr. Alderson, but not a vestige of it is to be seen.

   About the year 1750, the early settlers of the Waxhaws became, in a great measure, rid of their powerful and dangerous neighbors, the Indians; as the smallpox broke out among them and carried off, from the best information, three fourths of the whole tribe.  Shortly afterwards they leased most of their lands on Sugar creek, to some of the emigrants, and removed and settled in the towns where they now reside.  The present name was given to the district, through the influence of those settlers, who emigrated from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.  It was previously included under the name of Camden precincts.

   Population -- Increasing or Decreasing

   The population of this district has been on the increase, though slowly, owing in a great measure to emigrations from it to Alabama, Georgia &c.  For the last few years, this disposition to emigrate has considerably subsided.  The census of 1820 gave 5846 whites, 4473 slaves, and 69 free blacks; total 10, 390.  The total population in 1800 was 6312.  Increase, 4078 in 20 years.

Education and Literature

   The progress of literature has been very tardy in this district; more especially in the eastern section of it, where the people are in many instances poor.  In the western parts, the people being more wealthy, have paid greater attention to education.  There has not been a grammar school of any note in this district for many years until lately; though at one period this part of the state could boast of having the best institution for learning in the upper country; nay, the only one above Charleston.  It was conducted with ability, and was highly respectable.  In this institution many gentlemen, who afterwards distinguished themselves, were educated.

   An academy has been lately endowed by the munificence of the legislature of the state, who granted for that purpose the escheated property of the district.  From this fund a very fine building has been erected in the village, of brick, two stories high.  The funds accruing from this source now amount annually to about $2000, to which have been added about $1200 in private donations.  It is called the Franklin Academy, and is now in operation.

   Under the fostering care of the state another valuable institution for communicating knowledge has been founded; the free-schools, where the children of poor are educated at public expense.  By means of this fund 18 private schools have been assisted within the last two years, at the expense of $1440, where 300 pupils received the benefits of instruction.

Number and Class of Religious Sects

   As to the religious sects the Seceders are the most numerous.  There are many Presbyterians, some Methodists, and a few Baptists.

Eminent Men

   Lancaster was the birth place of General Andrew Jackson.  He was born near the waters of Waxhaw creek in this district, and within a mile of the North Carolina line, which was then the boundary of Anson county.


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