One of the first things you may notice when looking at maps of South Carolina from the 19th and early-20th centuries is that Lexington County (Lexington District before 1868) was somewhat larger.
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One of the first things you may notice when looking at maps of South Carolina from the 19th and early-20th centuries is that Lexington County (Lexington District before 1868) was somewhat larger in area than it is currently.
Much of the reduction in size came about in the late-19th and early-20th century. Originally a subdivision of Orangeburg District, Lexington became a separate district (equivalent to modern-day counties) in 1804.
At this point, Lexington District bordered Orangeburg District to the south and southwest, Edgefield District to the west, Newberry District to the northwest, Fairfield District to the northeast, and Richland District to the east. Lexington District stretched from the Broad River to the Congaree River to the North Edisto. All of the lower Dutch Fork was located in Lexington District, and there was no horseneck.
Lexington District became even bigger in the mid-19th century when the area between the North and South Edisto Rivers next to Lexington District was taken from Orangeburg District and added to Lexington.
The new constitution, created in 1868 after the Civil War, changed districts to counties. 1871 would mark the first time Lexington lost land, as the creation of Aiken County in 1871 led to Lexington County losing the area to the west of the North Fork of the Edisto. That would not be the last time the borders changed, though, as Lexington’s northwestern section was given to Newberry County and the creation of Calhoun County in 1908 led to Lexington County losing land in the southeast. The creation of Calhoun County created the horseneck area of southeastern Lexington County.
The confusing border between Lexington and Richland Counties in the Dutch Fork near Irmo and Chapin was created in the first quarter of the 20th century when some residents of the Dutch Fork voted to leave Lexington County and join Richland. Residents agitated for this change due to what they thought were high taxes and difficulties in getting to the town of Lexington. Votes to leave Lexington County took place in 1910, 1912 and 1919.
The area of the county has stayed relatively the same since, though some of the borders between Lexington County and its neighbors have slightly shifted as more precise measurements have taken place.
Maps showing how the borders of Lexington County changed over the years are available at the Lexington County Museum (231 Fox St., 803-359-8369, lexingtoncountymuseum.org) and on the website for the state Department of Archives and History (scdah.sc.gov). As always, contact the staff at the museum to learn more.
J.R. Fennell has served as director of the Lexington County Museum since 2007. He holds a master’s degree in public history and a certificate of museum management from the University of South Carolina.
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