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Monday, August 3, 2009

Barnwell, SC

Barnwell is a city in Barnwell County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 5,035 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Barnwell County.


The county was originally part of Orangeburg District, and in 1785 it was named Winton County. It was given its current name in 1798 when the County and its seat were named for Revolutionary War leader John Barnwell (1748-1800), who headed a militia in South Carolina. Barnwell County originally stretched from the Savannah River on the west almost to the Atlantic Ocean.

Savannah River

Built in 1832, the South Carolina Railroad connected Charleston to Hamburg on the Savannah River. Hamburg was near Augusta, Georgia. This was the first steam railroad in the world. The railroad went through the middle of the county. Two stops on the railroad created the towns of Blackville, South Carolina and Williston, South Carolina in the mid-nineteenth century.

Built in 1858, the sundial in Barnwell is often thought to be the only remaining vertical freestanding sundial in the USA. It was surrounded by a parking lot in the 1960’s but in the 1990s the Town of Barnwell removed the parking lot, built a park, and made the sundial a focal point. Another, of more recent construction, exists in front of the Wise County Courthouse in Texas, and there may be more.

Civil War

Barnwell gave generously to the Confederate cause; the most distinguished person was General Johnson Hagood, who was later governor of South Carolina. Soon after Hagood's election, one of his constituents asked him if he wished to be called "General" or "Governor". "Call me General," Hagood said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I fought for that and begged for the other."

Barnwell was hated by General Sherman; he felt that the town should be burnt to the ground since it carried the name of one of the most prominent politicians who had demanded South Carolina’s withdrawal from the Union. When Major Kilpatrick’s cavalry marched through Barnwell, they used the Church of the Holy Apostles, erected in 1856, as a stable for his horses. The hoof prints are still visible in the floors. The medieval font in the church was used to water the horses.

Built of cypress wood from the local swamps, the Church of the Holy Apostles was constructed in 17xx and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Barnwell County has decreased in size over the years as new counties were created within its boundaries (Aiken in 1871, Bamberg in 1897 and Allendale in 1919).

Savannah River Site

In 1950 the federal government asked DuPont to build and operate a plutonium production plant near the Savannah River in South Carolina. The company had unmatched expertise in atomic energy, having designed and built the plutonium production complex at the Hanford site, for the Manhattan Project during World War II. A large portion of farmland was bought under eminent domain and converted to the Savannah River Site (formerly known as the Savannah River Plant - SRP) managed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Several towns and over 100 cemeteries were relocated during this time. Dunbarton and Ellenton are but two. Dunbarton was the town in which Duncannon was located; it was once a sprawling wildlife preserve and early 19th century plantation. Former President George H. W. Bush, with his brothers, used to visit their grandfather George Herbert Walker at the plantation. He and his family spent many Christmases there. Union General William T. Sherman allegedly spared the plantation, built in 1835, because a woman and sick child were resting in a bedroom upstairs

US Army soldiers were brought into the county and were used as guards at this new facility. A camp was constructed for the soldiers off of Clinton Street in an area of the Little Salkehatchie swamp called O’Bannon Point. Most locals call this road “Barracks Road”. After discharge, many of these troops stayed on at SRP as civilian guards.

DuPont ran the Savannah River Site until 1989, when Westinghouse began the management of the facilities for the Department of Energy. The Savannah River Plant changed its name to the Savannah River Site. It was once one of the largest employers in the county.

Notable people:

Legendary entertainer James Brown was born in Elko area of Barnwell in 1933. He moved to Augusta to live with his aunt at the age of 6.

The county was the home of several powerful state politicians, known collectively as the "Barnwell Ring." Included were state Senator Edgar A. Brown (1888–1975), state Speaker of the House Solomon Blatt, Sr. (1895–1986), and Governor Joseph E. Harley (1880–1942).

The South Carolina poet and novelist, William Gilmore Simms, lived most of his life in the county. The county was also home Louis M. Shook, the first Baptist missionary sent to China. Mr. Shook is buried in the Baptist churchyard in Barnwell.

Troy Brown, New England Patriots wide receiver(NFL).

Henry Louis Wallace, serial killer.

James O'H. Patterson (1857–1911), United States Representative from South Carolina.

R. Winston Morris, professional tuba player and teacher.

Charley B. Flint, author and President of the NJAC Board of Trustees

Bobby Rouse, Professional Basketball Player (GERMANY-Ulm, FRANCE-Bordeaux, Luxembourg City-Luxembourg)


Barnwell Regional Airport

Local Motion - Barnwell County's Public Transportation System (803) 541-1197

Barnwell In Pictures:

Salkehatchie Bridge, State Route No. 64 spanning Salkehatchie River,

The Williston Cotton Gin rises over the rural landscape of Williston as a reminder of our state's cotton farming industry.

City Of Barnwell

Barnwell County Courthouse

The Historic Sundial


Exterior Links:

City of Barnwell

City Of Barnwell Historic Website

South Carolina Information Highway

Barnwell's History