Allendale County, South Carolina on the Savannah River, Welcome!
Suggestions

I suggest the following steps to construct your genealogy:

  1. Interview all the old people in your family, be sure and record them (usually digital these days)!  This is very important, and you will be shocked at what they said that you simply did not hear and write down!  Guaranteed!  You will eventually cherish these.  Convert them to MP3 format and write them all to a CD, or whatever the format and medium of your day.
  2. Photocopy all Bible or other family records. Distribute these copies widely.
  3. State birth and death records are available after 1915.  These contain the names of parents.
  4. Go to the U.S. Census, beginning with that currently available, 1920, and work your way backwards.  There, with luck, you can track your family back to 1850.  
  5. I would recommend that you note the heads of household +/- 10 families either way from yours, and anyone of a different surname in the family listing, especially old people, as these are usually "in-laws."  Do note that relationships are not shown prior to 1880, just who was living in the household.  
  6. Prior to 1850, you will have to look for a child of the correct sex in the correct age range, and then try to prove the conjectured connection with other documents. Usually (sometimes?) this can be done with probate and deed records.  Probate records include testate (with a will) and intestate (without a will).  Both usually contain useful detail, and often list heirs.  South Carolina has probate packages (sometimes called "bundles") for each estate, envelopes full of precious original records, that contain all extant documents associated with that estate.  Please, handle these original documents with utmost care.  Unfold them very carefully, and do not stress the ancient paper.  These are the only original records we have!  Never, ever, desecrate such a document.  If you don't want to know what your ancestor did, don't read it!  But never desecrate it!  I have seen sections physically cut out of probate and court records.  These records are all microfilmed and in multiple locations.  You cannot hide the indiscretions of your ancestors in this fashion!  Instead, be thankful that you have information on them at all.  The times were rough and tumble.  Many of us have bastards, rough types, thieves, and, yes, murderers and deserters, in our family trees somewhere.   And, while I am on the subject, Loyalists were not necessarily people of no principle.  Read carefully the section on Loyalists on the web page on the Revolutionary War in SC.  Things are not always as they have been portrayed to us. Note carefully that even Earl Cornwallis himself sympathized with the colonies!  He was just loyal to his country. Now I ask you, would you have had him be otherwise??  I have all of these someplace in my family, all dutifully documented.  As my wonderful Aunt Cleo put it: "The Truth's the Truth."  Don't hide what you find.  Why do you think these people came to settle a new and wild land?  If they were well set at home, they remained there!  Our ancestors were, by and large, those who had nothing.  As Bob Dylan put it, "if you ain't got nothin, you got nothin to lose!"

If you are having trouble tracing your family, note every neighbor in the census, I would suggest plus or minus ten from yours, note every legal witness on a deed, and then go through superior and inferior court books, to see who might have appeared in legal proceedings with your ancestor. Then do a complete genealogy on each of these families.  If you are doubtful just how useful all that might be, check out my John Gill, who died in 1822 in Allendale (Barnwell County then).  This is precisely how I proved which of the five extant John Gills after the revolutionary war was him. The proof was surprisingly convincing.   It is all on the web.  Read it and draw your own conclusions.  Holler if you disagree (grin).  Much to my surprise, this technique unambiguously demonstrated that John Gill was living in Allendale when he sold his father's land in Richland County! This approach was suggested to us by a professional genealogist, Mrs. Theresa Hicks.  Time consuming?  Try 30 years!  I started working on my Allendale Gills when I did not have any gray!  

We were directly in Sherman's path, just be grateful that those Barnwell records were carted off by train to northern South Carolina when Sherman's crew was burning deeds and entire court houses, at the time, indeed, whole cities!  Ah, now, there is a tale for the telling!  That tale is just beginning to take shape on the Civil War in South Carolina web site.  Do you have some oral or documented civil war history?  Please send it.  Please state documentation.  Oral tradition is fine, just state: who, where, and when.

Prior to 1785, South Carolina records were kept in Charleston.  These are pretty much extant, the originals in Charleston, microfilm copies in the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Columbia).  You can order the indices and records by mail from the SCDAH.

The two most recent parent counties of Allendale County are Hampton Co. to the south and Barnwell County to the north.  Records in both are extant.  Barnwell is only missing one deed book all the way back to 1785, and most probate and court records are extant as well.  Many Hampton Co. records are in the upper floor of the court house, but many are stored in boxes in the basement, and the ink has fallen off of some, probably from excessive humidity.  

Prior to these counties, the southern tip of what is now Allendale County was part of Beaufort Co., and here prior to Hampton County, in the southern tip, you are generally out of luck, except for the U.S. census.  What fire in the wooden court houses did not get, the Yanks did.  Sherman attempted to burn South Carolina to the ground once he managed to cross the Savannah River. Yay verily he probably would have burned the very ground itself had he been able to do so!  Hence there is a record gap in southern Allendale County from 1785 to 1878, when Hampton Co. was formed.

In addition to the problem with burned Beaufort Co. records, there is another gaping hole in our records base in another parent county, Orangeburgh. Sherman's crew burned Orangeburgh to the ground (How lucky we are to have all those Barnwell records extant!)!  Here we are in a bit better shape than was the case in Beaufort, because Mr. Salley wrote his  excellent History of Orangeburg County (History of Orangeburg County, South Carolina, A.S. Salley, Jr., Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1978, reprint of 1898 edition).  In this you will find The Rev. Giessendanner's very detailed records of births, marriages, baptisms, and all manner of record.  These are a gold mine of information.  If you cannot find a copy, I have one.

For details on the precise name and dates for each renaming of the area, and references, see the history page .

If you have suggestions on the wording of this page, or suggestions on other sources, please send them.  Would you like to write or rewrite one of the pages?  All comments are welcome.

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