Research in South Carolina Church and Bible Records
South Carolina Church records can be a abundant source of information for the genealogical and historical researcher. In many parts of South Carolina, church records predate civil records. They therefore document vital occurrences, giving birth, marriage, and death information and facts that might often be lost. Furthermore offering names and dates, church records may expose relationships between people and show a family’s position in the community. In addition, entries of a personal nature are not unheard of, and these may offer a peek into an ancestor’s character or habits.
Previous to South Carolina County and city governments compiled vital records, many people recorded significant times, events, and names in their family Bible. Family Bibles are helpful research resources. Even though the dates can’t be guaranteed, Family Bibles are a tangible link with past generations.
Since South Carolina did not record vital records statewide early on in its history, vital records from various churches that existed in the state’s early days are very important, especially from a genealogical research standpoint. Beginning in 1706, the Church of England was declared the official church supported by the state. It was later renamed the Protestant Episcopal Church. It recorded not only birth and burials, but also marriages and christenings. From 1706 to 1778, there were 25 parishes founded across the state. Two of them were established for the Huguenots, who used a Book of Common Prayer in French. Each of the parish registers that still exists has been published, many in multiple forms, including books and appearances in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine. The Dalcho Historical Society, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina also has some of the extant Protestant Episcopal Church records on file.
In the early 1700s, Quakers first settled in South Carolina. They were joined by Irish immigrants in the 1750s. Then, from 1760 onward, other groups of Quakers joined them from Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
In 1685, land grants were issued along the shoreline of South Carolina. That brought French Huguenots, who built permanent settlements in the area. Unfortunately, many of the the Huguenots’ records have been lost, but some do exist. They can be found in Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, (1888- present).
In the early 1700s, Presbyterians first came to South Carolina. Later, they were affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church. For more information on those records, contact Presbyterian College Library, Due West, SC 29325, or the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches.
During the 1700s, Lutherans also came to South Carolina. They were primarily immigrants from Switzerland and Germany. Many of the early Evangelical Lutheran records are still extant. They can be obtained through the Lutheran Theological Seminary Library.
1789 was the year that the first Roman Catholic church in South Carolina was founded. It was built at Charleston. Those vital records, including births, deaths, and marriages, have been carefully preserved and can be obtained from the Charleston Diocesan Archives.
The largest religious group in South Carolina today is the Baptists. However, the Baptist Church was not established in South Carolina until 1783. For information on Baptist records, researchers should contact the South Carolina Baptist Historical Collection, James B. Duke Library, Poinsett Highway, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613. The Journal of the South Carolina Baptist Historical Society, 3 (1977): 32-43 has a list of the church records that can be found at the James B. Duke Library.
1783 was also about the time that the first Methodists settled in South Carolina. Membership lists, conference records, biographical information, and historical information were all kept by the Methodist Church. Those records can be obtained from the South Carolina Methodist Conference Archives, Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford College. Some Methodist records can also be found at the University of South Carolina’s South Caroliniana Library in Columbia.
- Research In State Church Records (ancestry.com) from The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy.
- South Carolina Baptist Marriages and Deaths, 1835-65 (search.ancestry.com)
- Reformed Presbyterian Marriages and Deaths, 1866-88 (search.ancestry.com)
- Reformed Presbyterian Marriages and Deaths, 1843-63 (search.ancestry.com)
- History of the German settlements and of the Lutheran Church in North and South Carolina. (search.ancestry.com)
- Maryland and South Carolina Lutheran Newspapers, Marriages and Deaths (search.ancestry.com)
- Richard N. Cote, “South Carolina Religious Records: Other Denominations,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 86 (January 1985): 50-61. Cote’s article discusses records of the following religious groups: African Methodist Episcopal Church; Congregational; Unitarian and Universalist Churches; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); French Protestant (Huguenot) Church; Jews; Lutheran Church; Roman Catholic Church; and Society of Friends (Quakers).
- Margaretta, Leland, and Isabella G. Childs, “South Carolina Episcopal Church Records,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 84 (October 1983): 250-63.
- William F. Medlin, Quaker Families of South Carolina and Georgia (N.p.: Ben Franklin Press, 1982). South Carolina Quaker records are included in William Wade Hinshaw, ed., Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 1 (1936; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994).
- Inventory of the Church Archives of South Carolina Presbyterian Churches: 1969 Arrangement with Indexes (South Carolina Historical Records Survey, Works Progress Administration, 1969).
- Richard N. Cote, “South Carolina Religious Records: Presbyterian Records,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 85 (April 1984): 145-52.
- J. Glenn Clayton, “South Carolina Baptist Records,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 85 (October 1984): 319-27.
- South Carolina Baptist Deaths and Marriages, 1866-87 (search.ancestry.com)
- South Carolina, Births and Christenings, 1846-1935 (familysearch.org)
- Old South Carolina churches (search.ancestry.com)
- South Carolina Church Books (amazon.com)
Before South Carolina County and city governments collected vital records, many people recorded important dates, events, and names in their family Bible. Family Bibles are valuable research tools. Although the dates cannot be guaranteed, Family Bibles are a tangible link with past generations.
- South Carolina Bible Books (amazon.com)
Research in South Carolina Cemetery RecordsUnlike other types of vital records that may be off limits, South Carolina cemetery records can usually be accessed by anyone looking for this kind of data. Contrary to what many people believe, you can actually often times find a great deal of information from South Carolina cemetery records too. When you need information and data for your genealogy project and need it from people who are no longer here to share their story, you can rely on South Carolina cemetery records to make this happen. For Definitions of all Cemetery Terms See Symbols on Gravestones and Their Interpretations
Many of the inscriptions from tombstones across South Carolina have been recorded, either by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). There are also genealogical and historical societies across the state, many of which have compiled their own lists of cemetery records and inscriptions. In addition to that, many South Carolina genealogical periodicals often feature cemetery records.
- Rootsweb South Carolina Cemetery Look Ups (rootsweb.ancestry.com)
- SC GPS Mapping Project Contains: 12,000+ Cemeteries & 200+ Cemetery Survey Book Surname Indexes
- Web: South Carolina, Find A Grave Index, 1729-2011 (search.ancestry.com)
- South Carolina Tombstone Inscription Project (usgwtombstones.org)
- South Carolina Obituary Project (usgwarchives.net)
- Epodunk – South Carolina Cemeteries (epodunk.com)
- Find a Grave – South Carolina Cemeteries (findagrave.com)
- South Carolina Cemeteries at Internment.net (interment.net)
- The South Carolina Political Graveyard (politicalgraveyard.com)
- Terminology & Meanings of Tombstone Symbols
- Alexia J. Hensley, Silent Cities, Cemeteries & Classrooms (Columbia, S.C.: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1997) includes a bibliography of published cemetery inscriptions for South Carolina.
- South Carolina Cemetery Books (amazon.com)
While everyone realizes you can find out when a person died from South Carolina cemetery records, there is actually much more to it than that. For instance, you can get the full legal name and maiden name of the deceased. You can also get information about when and where they were born. South Carolina cemetery records may even clue you in to the names of other family members or at least a spouse if there was one.
Getting It Done – One thing to keep in mind is that it is important to try to have the county name if possible when it comes to South Carolina cemetery records searches. Aside from that, there are a few ways you can consider getting your South Carolina cemetery records search completed.
- Hiring someone else to track these down
- Looking online through databases
- Going in person to certain cemeteries because the records may not be up to date
- Checking with county offices
- Using the library to search databases, old newspapers and microfilm
In other words, the good news is that there are many methods you can use to try to get your South Carolina cemetery records search completed.
Where many people go wrong though is forgetting that a person may not be buried in the county where they lived. A person may be found using a South Carolina cemetery records search but in the county where they went to church. In many cases, a person will actually be brought back to the state and county they were from originally for their final resting place. Keep this in mind when you conduct your own South Carolina cemetery records search.
Famous People Buried in South Carolina Cemeteries
|County||Name / Date / Cemetery||Description|
|Aiken||Brown, James Joseph
5/3/1933 – 12/25/2006
Thomas Family Home Crypt
Nicknamed included “Godfather of Soul” and the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, he was impoverished at birth.
|Berkeley||Marion, Francis ‘The Swamp Fox’
9/27/1904 – 2/27/1795
Belle Isle Plantation Cemetery
|Revolutionary War Continental Brigadier General.
In 1753 he joined a militia company to fight in the French and Indian War, but does not see action.
11/23/1730 – 9/27/1805
|Major General William Moultrie.
Born in Charleston, S.C.
, November 23, 1730.
Second in command of Charleston’s defenses during the American Revolution
|Dorchester||Hall, Gen. Robert Monroe
4/1828 – 7/18/1877
Saint Pauls Episcopal Church Cemetery
|Brevet Brigadier General.
Civil War service includes 1st Lieutenant, 1st US Artillery and Colonel, 38th United States Colored Troops.
|Florence||McNair, Ronald Erwin ‘Ron’
10/12/1950 – 1/28/1986
Rest Lawn Memorial Park
Killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion.
|Greenville||Jackson, Joseph Jefferson ‘Shoeless Joe’
7/16/1888 – 12/5/1951
Woodlawn Memorial Park
|Major League Baseball Player.
He is best known today for being the most recognizable of the eight Chicago White Sox players who were banned forever from Major League baseball for his role in the 1919 “Black Sox” Scandal.
8/5/1993 – 10/25/1994
Bogansville United Methodist Church Cemetery
|Buried with his brother, Michael.
Murdered by their mother Susan Smith.
|Union||Smith, Michael Daniel
10/10/1991 – 10/25/1994
Bogansville United Methodist Church Cemetery
|Buried with his brother, Alexander.
Murdered by their mother Susan Smith.
South Carolina Cemeteries
|Cemetery Name||Cemetery City|
|Beaufort National Cemetery||Beaufort|
|Old Quaker Cemetery||Camden|
|Coming Street Cemetery||Charleston|
|St. Michael’s Cemetery||Charleston|
|St. Philip’s Cemetery||Charleston|
|The Unitarian Churchyard||Charleston|
|St. Philip’s-Bradford Springs||Dalzell|
|Florence National Cemetery||Florence|
|Woodlawn Memorial Park||Greenville|