Chester County, located between two rivers, was divided by the Great Warrior Trading Path, later part of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, which passed through the city of Chester, SC. Another major path, the Saluda Gap Road, intersected the Indian Trading Path in Chester County.

Originally inhabited by the Catawba and Cherokee Indian Nations, Chester County saw white traders settling in the early 1700s and the first settlers arriving in the 1750s, mainly in the Rocky Creek and Fishing Creek areas. Scotch-Irish immigrants from Pennsylvania, and later immigrants from Virginia, primarily of English extraction, settled in the area. Many settled along or near the Catawba River. Originally part of Craven County, Chester County was established in 1785, with its first court held at Walkers, now known as Lewis Turnout, in 1776. The current courthouse in the town of Chester was built in 1852.

During the Revolutionary War, Chester County was the site of several battles, including Beckhamville, Fishing Creek, and Fish Dam Ford. The City of Chester, founded in 1790, grew as the county seat and a leading trade center. It experienced rapid growth after the development of the first railroad in 1851.

During the Civil War, Chester County contributed many soldiers to the Confederate cause. Portions of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops passed through the county in 1865, causing widespread destruction. The post-war period brought economic turmoil, but also the establishment of institutions like the Brainerd Institute, providing educational and religious opportunities for both African-American and white residents.

Initially an agricultural community, Chester County transitioned into a manufacturing economy in the late 1800s, particularly due to the textile industry. The founding of the Chester Manufacturing Company in 1888 and the Catawba Manufacturing Company in 1892 brought new wealth and jobs. These mills later became part of Springs Industries, one of the world’s largest textile companies.

In the last 20 years, the county has experienced significant growth, largely due to the construction of Interstate 77, connecting Chester County to Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. The county’s excellent highway and rail transportation network has made it an ideal location for new manufacturing operations, diversifying the area’s economy.

​To learn more about our rich history, visit our Chester County Historical Society.



  1. Chester County Historical Society. (n.d.). Retrieved from ChesterSCHistory.org
  2. Chester County Chamber of Commerce. (n.d.). Retrieved from ChesterChamber.com
  3. Photos: Chester County Historical Society. (n.d.). Retrieved from ChesterSCHistory.org


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