You have to go no further than the name "Sumter County" to appreciate the history of this area.
Sumter County was established in 1800 and named for Gen. Thomas Sumter, a Revolutionary War hero so known for his tenacious spirit that he was nicknamed "The Gamecock."
In this tradition, today Sumter is known as the "Gamecock City," and the athletic teams of Sumter High School and even the University of South Carolina in Columbia bear the same nickname.
Sumter (1734–1832) was born near Charlottesville, Va. He served with Edward Braddock (1755) and John Forbes (1758) in their expeditions against Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War, and later he fought against the Cherokee.
A decade before the start of the Revolution, Sumter settled in South Carolina. Like Francis Marion, "The Swamp Fox," he formed a guerrilla band in the Revolution and chased the British throughout the Carolinas.
After the war, Gen. Sumter was U.S. Representative (1789–93, 1797–1801), Senator (1801–10), and minister to Brazil (1810–11). Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, where the first battle of the Civil War took place, is named for the general. Ironically, it was a Sumter native, a man named Haynsworth, who fired the first shot of the Civil War from a battery along Charleston Harbor.
Gen. Sumter’s tomb is located In the High Hills portion of the County, near the historic Church of the Holy Cross.
Sumter County has changed its name and boundaries several times. In 1785, Claremont County was formed as a part of Camden District; a part of the County was later split off in 1791 to form Salem County. Claremont, Clarendon, and Salem counties were combined into Sumter District in 1800.
Clarendon was once again split off in 1857, however, and another small part of Sumter County went to form Lee County in 1902. This part of the state began attracting English settlers from the lowcountry and from Virginia in the mid-eighteenth century. The area known as the High Hills of Santee, a narrow ridge along the Wateree River, was famous for its healthy climate and rich soil.
The City of Sumter is also home to the Opera House, a recently renovated 100-year-old building in the center of the city. It now houses the offices of city government. The Opera House and its signature clock tower, toured by thousands each year, have become icons of this city. In addition, Sumter County was the site of events in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Sumter County History Links