From Mills, Robert. Statistics of South Carolina, Including a View of its Natural, Civil, and Military History, General and Particular. 2nd ed. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company, 1972.
LEXINGTON

 

HISTORY OF THE SETTLEMENT-ORIGIN OF ITS NAME

This district, when first settled, was merged in Orangeburg precincts. A parish and township were laid out in about the year 1750, and named Saxegotha, in compliment to the first settlers of the country, who came from that part of Germany. The fork between Broad and Saluda rivers was settled about the same period, mostly by Germans. Some of the most conspicuous characters among them were Beard, (that. owned Beard’s falls on Saluda,)Weaver, Giger, Raul, Crim, Counts, Cramer, Ruff, Summers, Fulmer, Sweetenburg, Mayer, Leriston, Piester, Dawalt, Keller, M 'Martin, Bulow, Chapman, Swygert, Drher, &c. Also John Pearson, thought not German. He was a surveyor, and laid off a great part of the land first granted in this part of the country.

The present name of the district, it is presumed, was given in honor of the place where the first American blood was spilt in defence of liberty (Mills 1972, 611).

SITUATION-BOUNDARIES, AND EXTENT

Lexington is situated mostly in what is called the middle country; bounded on the N.E. by the Congaree and Broad rivers, (which divide it from Richland and Fairfield districts.) On the N.W. by a straight line, extending from Ruff's ferry on Broad, S. 17o 15’, W. 31 miles, 15 chains, or to the head waters of N. Edisto river, which divides it from Newberry and part and part of Edgefield. On the S. W. by the north Edisto, which divides it from Orangeburg, down to the bridge called the private bridge, opposite to Big pond branch. On the S. E. by a line drawn N. 61, E. 21 miles 72 chains, to Congareee river, following the course of Beaver creek, after intersecting it, which divides it from Orangeburg. The district contains, by computation, 652,800 acres; averaging 34 miles long by 30 broad (Mills 1972, 611-612).

NATURE OF THE SOIL, AND CROPS-VALUE OF PRODUCTS-DIVISION OF PKOPERTY.

The largest portion of the lands in Lexington is included in the sandy region, covered with an immense growth. of pines. The most valuable lands, in a body, lie in the fork, formed by the Broad and Saluda rivers; except those situated on the banks of the rivers, and contiguous to the small streams. In the fork clay predominates, mixed with a rich mould. The low lands on the rivers are extremely rich; but in times of great floods are subject to be overflowed. The principal products of this district are cotton and corn; wheat, rye, and oats, are also raised. Abundance of timber is sawed into boards and taken to market ; the district having a number of good mill-seats, and excellent timber.

The quality of the cotton raised, is the short staple, or green seed; the quantity varies, from 100 to 1000 pounds per acre in the seed. Of corn, the product per acre is from 10 to 50 bushels: the price from 35 to 75 cents. The price of lumber at the mills is from 75 to 100 cents per hundred feet. The same ruinous system of culture is pursued in this, as in other districts, namely, taking all from, and giving back nothing of nourishment to the soil; wearing out the land, and then abandoning it. The farming system is very little in practice here, owing to the extensive, and profitable culture of the cotton plant, which induces a neglect of every thing else.

The best quality low lands, on the river, will sell for from 30 to 50 dollars per acre. The best uplands are worth from 10 to 20 dollars, according to situation: the value of the pine lands is from 25 cents to 5 dollars an acre.

Property is pretty equally divided here. The industrious character of the inhabitants, mostly of German extraction, has forbid a monopoly; a good deal of equality is kept up among them (Mills 1972, 612-613).

MARKETS

Columbia has now become the principal market for all the products of the district. Some little is carried to Charleston, particularly lumber, through the medium of the Edisto river (Mills 1972, 613)

PRICE OF LABOR-BOARDING, &Cc.

Field hands are hired mostly by the year, at from 60 to 80 dollars, and found. The price of boarding varies from 50 to 100 dollars a year, according to circumstances of accommodation, &c (Mills 1972, 613).

POPULATION-CLIMATE-DISEASES-LONGETIVITY, &c.

According to the census taken in 1820 the population of this district was 8083; of which 5267 were whites, 2801 slaves, and 15 free blacks. The census of 1800 gave 5191; increase near 3000 in 20 years. The disposition to emigrate does not manifest itself here; the people appear to be very well satisfied to remain stationary. The climate of Lexington is in general mild and salubrious, except immediately bordering on the water courses; what few diseases prevail are mostly confined to the bilious remittent fevers. Several instances of longevity are on record, and a few of their names are as follows: Andrew Rumny, of Sandy run, died in 1797, aged 103; Nelly Snyder (who had ten husbands) was 90 years old in 1808. Many other names of those who have attained their 80th year might be mentioned (Mills 1972, 613).

DISTRICT TOWN-VILLAGES

The seat of justice is named after the district, Lexington. It contains 15 houses, besides the public buildings. It stands near the center of the district, in a high, healthy situation, 13 miles from Columbia, on the post road to Augusta, and about 4 miles in a straight line south of Saluda river. The population of the village does not exceed 10 families, containing 80 souls.

Granly is situate in this district, and was once a flourishing town, where much business was done previous to the establishment of Columbia; since which it has declined, and is now nearly deserted. Its insalubrity was another cause of its decline. Had it been located at the junction of the Saluda it would have been still in existence, and probably made the seat of government; this spot being equally healthy with that on which Columbia is situated.

Granly was one of the first settlements formed in this section of the country. It was laid out under the prospect of its becoming a place of commercial importance, being at the head of navigation of Congaree river. A township was originally attached to it, 7 miles square, and named after the parish, Saxegotha. It was defended on each side, by two forts, and constituted an important station during the revolutionary war. Gen. Sumter in February, 1781, made an attempt upon this post, and destroyed its magazines; but, on the appearance of Lord Rawdon, was obliged to retreat. After this it was besieged, and harassed for some time by Col. Thomss Taylor's regiment of militia. On the night of the 14th of May, Lieut. Col. Lee erected a battery within 600 yards of its outworks, on which he mounted a six pounder. After the third discharge from this filedpiece, Major Maxwell, who commanded the fort, capitulated. His force consisted of 352 men, a great part of whom were royal militia. The fall of this place was owing principally to the activity and perseverance of Col. Taylor, who had previous to Col. Lee's appearance warned the garrison out.

Very advantageous terms were given by the assailant, in consequence of information that Lord Rawdon was marching to his relief. This was a post of more consequence than the others, and might have been better defended; but the offer of security to the baggage of the garrison, in which was included an immense quality of plunder, hastened the surrender.

There is one other settlement or village in the district, Platt's springs, situate on the banks of the Congaree creek, devoted chiefly to the accommodation of a literary institution. It is much resorted to in the summer for health; the springs being pure and abundant (Mills 1972, 613-615).

WATER-COURSES-NAVIGABLE OR OTHERWISE

This district is well watered. The Congaree, Broad, Saluda, and Edisto rivers, border and pass through its whole extent. The three first are navigable throughout all the year for boats drawing two feet water. The Edisto is passable with rafts, during high waters, almost to the Edgefield line.From these rivers a number of small streams branch off, the greater furnishing fine mill-seats, on which sawmills are mostly erected. The Saluda, with its canals, locks, &c. promises to be of immense importance to this district, as this river passes through the richest portion of its lands (Mills 1972, 615).

ROCKS, GRANITE, FREESTONE--MINERALS

On the banks of the Saluda and Broad abundance of rock is found, chiefly of the granite kind; all the public works on these rivers were furnished from this source, and test the excellent quality of the stone. There is a peculiar and rare species of granite rock found on the Saluda at the entrance of the guard of the lower canal, remarkably hard, and of a beautiful chocolate color. On and near the banks of the Congaree creek, in the vicinity of Platt’s springs, quarries of freestone are found; some of it very white and fine, at a little distance resembling marble. The nature of it is such, that when taken out of the quarry it is easily worked, but grows harder the longer it is exposed to the air. Much of it is transported to Columbia, and used to ornament the buildings there, and for steps, sills, &c. The quantity of this stone seems to be inexhaustible, stretching in a southwest direction over towards Edisto river. There is no limestone in this district; but there is a species of chalk, or potter's clay, found, which is used in the place of chalk. Congaree Bluff, on the river, presents a beautiful, variegated, pink-coloured stone, of a soft and soapy nature; at the Wateree creek, northeast corner of the district, slatestone is found. The only metallic substance discovered here is iron; this, however, is too small in quantity and poor in quality to be noticed. There may be minerals in Ruff’s mountain, (which lies on the borders of Newberry,) but no search has yet been made to ascertain the fact.*

* Ruff's mountain, near the Lexington and Newberry line, is a very short and narrow ridge, running northeast and southwest, about one mile in length. It is at least 200 feet above the ordinary level of the adjacent country, and is the highest land between Saluda and Broad river: it overlooks a considerable proportion of Fairfield, Newberry, and Lexington districts. On the same range, but separate, is another elevation, of a pyramidal form, somewhat inferior in altitude. This mountain is about five miles from Broad river, and about eight miles from Saluda. The summit is covered over with the long leaf pine; a variety of oak and other timber is found at its base, where rise several large springs. The general appearance of the mountain, its elevation above the surrounding country, the beauty of the prospect from its summit, and the excellency of the water, suggest at once its fitness as a retreat from the prevalence of fevers and other diseases that owe their origin to the moisture of the low country.

A tradition has prevailed that lead ore, in the virgin state, was in former times abundantly procured at this mountain. The stones on its summit are sienite, ferruginous sandstone, clay, slate, and talc. From the abundance of this last, the whole range has been named Mount Talco. Its present name is derived from the proprietor of the land-it had some other before he purchased it.

On the south side of the mountain is an excavation in the shape of' a well, nearly filled up with stones, of a considerable size. It is walled with stone around its margin, three feet in height, and sloping off sixteen feet. It was a work of great labor, and supposed to have been the work of the aborigines of 'the country, or some enterprising miners of former days (Mills 1972, 615-617).

MATERIALS FOR BUILDING

Besides the finest quality of pine timber in this district, there is the poplar, black walnut, maple, and oak, for building; of stone, as before remarked, there is an abundance, and the river flats furnish the best of clay for making bricks (Mills 1972, 617).

TIMBER TREES, FRUIT TREES, &c.

Lexington is noted for the fine quality of its timber, the long leaf pine mostly prevailing. It is no uncommon thing to find trees of this description girthing six or seven feet. Besides the poplar, walnut, maple, and various species of the oak, there are the mock-orange, evergreen, elm, hickory, ash, gum, &c. Of fruit trees there are, the peach, plum, cherry, pear, quince, and apple; besides the native grapes, and various nuts and melons (Mills 1972, 617).

FISH GAME-BIRDS, &c.

Of fish there are in season, the shad and sturgeon, also the trout, bream, red-horse, mud-fish, cat-fish, and a variety of porch. Of game there are, the deer, and, in season, wild pigeons, partridges, snipes, woodcocks, and owls, besides doves, larks, woodpeckers, sparrows, hawks, crows, and (rarely) the bald eagle. Of singing birds there are, the thrush, mocking-bird, red-bird, blue-bird, jay &c (Mills 1972, 617).

ROADS-BRIDGES-FERRIES-CANALS, &c.

The roads are generally good, though somewhat sandy. Two section of the state road have been made in this district; one through Hugabook swamp, and the other in the fork of the rivers Broad and Saluda, from Dair’s tavern, five miles towards Columbia. The first was a formidable undertaking and cost the state a considerable sum. Although so high above the swamp it is still subject to be overflowed in high freshets of the river. On one of these occasions the state lost a valuable life in Dr. Simons, professor of chemistry and natural philosophy in the South Carolina college, who was drowned attempting to cross this swamp during a great rise of the river. He was a gentleman of the highest promise, and a native of this state. The causeway was covered, and venturing through he soon plunged into deep water and was dismounted. He reached a fence upon which he for some time sustained himself, but at length, benumbed and frozen, he tumbled off and perished & his faithful servant struggling to assist his master shared the same fate. The difficulties encountered in making this road secure from floods will probably occasion it to be changed so as to head the swamp. The state road from Charleston to the mountains passes the whole length of this district, except a small turn-off on the Richland side going through Columbia. At this crossing place of the river a substantial and handsome bridge of eleven arches is building, raised on stone piers twenty-five feet high, so as to be several feet above the highest floods.

The Congaree creek, where the state road crosses it, is bridged. This district is well provided with ferries, which are kept generally in good order. The two principal, at Granly and Columbia, will probably be dispensed with as soon as the bridge is completed, which is expected to be passable this year. The two most formidable obstructions in the Saluda river, (Drehr’s and Beard’s falls,) and those of the Broad and Congaree rivers (Bull’s and Congaree shoals) are all canalled and locked around. The two first embrace a fall of fifty-three feet in less than eleven miles; the two latter a fall of fourteen feet in little more than five miles (Mills 1972, 617-618).

MANUFACTURES, DOMESTIC AND OTHERS.

What little of manufactures is carried on in this district is principally confined to private families. No public nor private establishments on a large scale have been erected in this district. Much however in the domestic way is to be found, as is evident from the clothing worn by the inhabitants (Mills 1972, 619).

ACADEMIES, SCHOOLS, &c.-LITERATURE.

The Plattspring academy has been long known to the public as a first rate institution for the education of youth, preparatory to entering college. It owes its foundation and present eminence, to the liberality and indefatigable care of Abraham Geiger, Esq. who for several years supported it from his private purse. This academy is now one of the most flourishing in the state.

The institution has a small but well selected library attached to it. The average number of students is from 60 to 70; the present year there are upwards of 80. The price of tuition is very moderate, as also boarding, there being several respectable private houses for this purpose, which is at the rate of eight dollars per month. The salubrity of the site, purity of the waters, remoteness from scenes of dissipation, strict discipline, and the parental kindness of the original founder of the academy, tend to give it decided advantages over many other establishments of a similar kind in the state. It was founded in 1812, and lies 12 miles S.W. of Columbia. This place is much visited both for health and recreation by the surrounding neighborhood, during the summer. It is to be regretted that so little attention is yet paid to literature in this district. In the progress of its improvement, a hope is entertained, that our youth shall be distinguished in the service of their country, equally with the youth of other districts. Little or no progress has yet been made in the arts. This is the result of science which we have yet to acquire. Agriculture is one of those arts which we cannot too early attend to. The ruinous system of cultivating, without manuring the land, is too prevalent among us (Mills 1972, 619-620).

NUMBER OF POOR-EXPENSE OF THEM-AMOUNT OF TAXES.

There are few paupers in this district compared with the extent of the population, and these are well provided for. The district pays towards this object, at the rate of 25 per cent upon the amount of its general tax, which is equal to $657,36 per annum. The taxes paid into the treasury of the state, amount to $2,629 45 (Mills 1972, 620).

NUMBER AND CLASS OF RELIGIOUS SECTS, &c.

The German Lutheran church is the most numerous sect in the district. There are seven in what is called the Dutch Fork, and seven on the southwest side of Saluda river (Mills 1972, 620).

EMINENT MEN.

Those who distinguished themselves in the war of the revolution, deserve to rank as eminent. Among others, we would particularly mention the names of Gabriel Fridayand Godfrey Drehr, devoted friends to the cause of liberty, and zealous partisans in the war of the revolution (Mills 1972, 620).

NAMES OF PLACES-INDIAN OR OTHERWISE.

The Indian names of places are all extinct, except in the instances of Saluda, Edisto, and Congaree. The Indians that originally inhabited this part of the country, were the Congarees, a peaceable tribe, but who once joined in a conspiracy with the Yamassees, Creeks, Apalachian, and other Indians, to exterminate the whites, in 1751. The attempt, however, failed (Mills 1972, 620).

WASTE LANDS-SWAMPS-IMPROVEMENTS WANTED

The waste lands, properly speaking, in this district, are confined to the swamps; though these are of very little extent. The pine lands furnish good grazing for cattle. None of the swamp lands have been yet reclaimed, so as to be perfectly secure from freshets, though the river swamps are mostly in cultivation; but the crops are rather uncertain. As the best lands are confined to the margin of the great water-courses, the principal improvement required is, to embank in, and secure them from the destructive effects of freshets. A good system of agricultural practice, is another improvement wanted. If these improvements were effected, a number of others would necessarily follow, much to the advantage of the people (Mills 1972, 621).

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.

This district is equally divided between the alluvial and primitive formation, which line is strongly marked both in the soil and character of the streams; those in the alluvial country having swampy margins, while those in the primitive are exempt from these. The most prominent object in this district, is Ruff's mountain, so named from the gentleman who is the present proprietor of it. This mountain is entirely isolated, rising to a considerable height, and situate between the waters of Broad and Saluda. The following streams head in and near it:-Camping, Bear, Preston's, and Wateree creeks. The dividing line between Newberry and Lexington, passes over it, placing the largest portion of it in this district (Mills 1972, 621).