Wednesday, November 14, 2007

York County & The New Acquisition

From "York: A Unique South Carolina County," by Lawrence E. Wells, The Carolina Herald, Official Publication of the South Carolina Genealogical Society, Volume 3, Number 1:

    In 1772, the boundary question was settled and what became York County was thrown into South Carolina. Tryon County [North Carolina] lost its courthouse and perhaps a majority of its population. South Carolina gained a well-populated piece of territory, peopled almost entirely by Scotch-Irish pioneers. Within what became York County, there were already four Presbyterian churches, and by 1800 there would be four or five more. Although Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Quakers were nearby in both Carolinas, these groups were conspicuously absent in York County.
    When York County became a part of South Carolina in 1772, it found itself in a Province of rather different traditions in local government. North Carolina, like Virginia, had from early on a system of strong county courts. These county courts, consisting of several Justices of the Peace, or "Gentlemen Justices", would sit together and hold court once a quarter. The Court would record deeds, prove wills, grant letters of administration, bind out orphans, license taverns, ferries, and grist-mills, and compile records of inestimable worth to genealogists. But South Carolina in 1772, a city-state ruled from Charlestown, had only nominal counties, and York fell into the ill-defined hunk of territory called Craven County. Equally meaningless was the fact that it belonged to the Parish of St. Mark: we may be very sure that the Anglican presence in York County at that time was negligible if not nil. The only hint of an Anglican clergyman in pre-Revolutionary York County was the chaplain who accompanied Governor Tryon when he traveled through in the 1760's surveying the Indian boundary.
    Under the new government of South Carolina, a resident of York County had to travel to the district capital at Camden to enter a suit at law. To record a deed, prove a will, or obtain letters of administration, he had to make the long trip to Charlestown....
    Under the new regime the [York County] area gained a quaint name: The New Acquisition. Although not all of the territory "newly acquired" by South Carolina through the 1772 survey was part of York County, the importance of the well-settled region between the Broad and Catawba Rivers caused the name New Acquisition to be used for what later became York County. At the Provincial Congresses of 1775 we find representatives from the "District of the New Acquisition", and the name stuck as late as the State Constitutional Convention of 1790. The importance of New Acquisition District is evidenced by the fact that in the Provincial Congresses it was allowed fifteen representatives, while the "District between the Broad and the Catawba" embracing the territory south of New Acquisition, later divided into Chester, Fairfield, and Richland Counties, was allowed only ten.
For the purpose of drawing up South Carolina's 1776 constitution, the area now known as York County was labeled "New Acquisition District" and called "Election District 10." These fifteen men from the New Acquisition were seated: William Byers, Joseph Woods, James Carson, Robert McAfee, Ezekiel Polk, Joseph Howe, William McCulloch, John Howe, Francis Adams, Thomas Neel, Alexander Love, Samuel Watson, Francis Ross, Thomas Janes, Robert Dickey.