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Old View of an Old Town

April 26, 2024

           The area that is now Lake City SC has been settled for almost 300 years. Through this period the land that Lake City sits has changed hands thousands of times between thousands of individuals. But who were the original settlers? The Lynches Lake Historical Society team asked the same question and devised a plan to answer it.

The map pictured above is part of a larger-scale project to hone in on the original settlers of the land that is now Lake City. It is important to preface that the Pee Dee Indians or the original inhabitants of this land disappeared in the early 1750’sbecause of increased white settlements in the area. This was caused by new townships that sprang up across South Carolina to create a buffer zone between places like the Lynches River and the coast.[1] All in all the Pee Dee region as a whole was seen as ripe with good soil and access to much water, creating the perfect place for settlement. The map created by Lynches Lake’s team is an attempt to capture where some of these settler's lands were located in the 18th and 19th centuries. The challenging part of the project is that many of the landplats used to construct the map have no clear identifying figures that can tie them down to a singular location.

Primary researcher Mr. Kent Daniels used various means to locate plats in specific locations either through road systems or particular waterway segments. After he was able to create a baseline with plats placed in specific areas. The map grew exponentially.

Example of a Surveyor's Chains

Understanding the information about plats from this era is an essential piece in the research and culmination of the map. The way the map is measured is not in feet and yards as today but in chains and links. The full length of the chain was 66 feet, and each link would be 7.92 inches creating a 100-link chain. This creates a stable measurement system without the use of modern-day equipment. The measurements would coincide with a directional pattern such as South 47 Chains and 20 Links. Surveyors would use the chain measurement system from a fixed point like a tree or other landmark fixture. The endpoint would normally be notched or marked to track the boundary. This gave the surveyor a plot point for the property. Each surveyor also had to have a good understanding of math to complete their surveys as they had to calculate the total acreage from the property lines. Books like Geodæsia by John Love gave these early surveyors a handbook on how to correctly and accurately complete surveys. An example of one of these plats is below:


This plat issued to John Rogers in 1812 gives a prime example of how one can find the relative locations of where the lands are today. One way of deducing the location is the plat itself, meaning that on most land plats from the period the surveyor would name the general area, for Mr. Rogers, this would be Lynches Lake. Next would be a roadway, this particular plat lists a public road. This road would eventually turn into West Main Street of Lake City SC. In combination with the waterway of Lynches Creek and the Bay listed one could whittle down the location of the land even further.  The names attached to each plat are the main way of verifying locations as well as growing the map. For example, on Mr. Rogers's plat Charles McAllister's land is connected on one of the property lines. To verify a particular plat, one would use the property line and its coinciding chain length as well as its directional pattern to verify with the other plat, thus conjoining the two. Unfortunately, this isn’t an exact science, and the placement of the plats is not 100%verifiable. Although one outlier exists, Obediah Hands plat for 450 acres in 1802. The land today is still owned by Obadiah’s descendants and the original property lines are known by the family. This allows the most accurate plot points to be recorded.  

 Another area that is used for verification is court maps and documents. Pictured above is an original 1844 map pertaining to a Land Dispute. Court documents and legal sources can verify a plats place within a certain area. Cited on pages 482 and 483 of the companion document. The two pieces of John McAllister's property can be seen in relation to the road system. The Lynches Lake team was able to deduce a relative location for his lands and apply them to the map. There are many maps like these but finding and documenting them can be a challenge. For example, this map was pulled from a filing cabinet during cleaning in the Clerk of Courts office in Kingstree SC. The clerk understood that it could be historically relevant and chose to save it. This map itself has proved itself valuable in conducting research and is viewable by request at Lynches Lake Historical Society.

  Above is a current iteration of the map created by Florence County’s GIS department. The GIS team used a scan of the working map overlayed on top of a current web-based map. This allowed the team to get accurate plot points and place the plat where the lands likely were. With the addition of the verifiable coordinates of Obediah Hand's land, the map was able to accurately be shifted to reflect the new findings. The team at Lynches Lake Historical Society will continue to work with the amazing people of the Florence County GIS department to further the understanding of Lake City’s colonial landscape.

When creating the map and overlaying the plats, the accuracy of the land’s size became a center point in the map’s creation. The working map is at a scale of 28160 this allows the measurements of the chains and links to be converted and accurately transitioned on the map. The angles on each plat had to be measured and transitioned as well to create the correct size of each plat on the working map.

All of these aspects helped create the map. As well as its companion document that spans 630 pages of material pertaining to the people of the map. (Linked Below[3]) Many of these individuals served or have family ties to the Revolutionary War. This document and the original working map are available for viewing at Lynches Lake Historical Society and we ask that you please come in and help further our understanding through family stories or sources unbeknownst to us!

[1] Chandler, J. W. Nelson. “Willtown, Black Mingo: TheRise and Fall of an Early Village in the South Carolina Lowcountry.” TheSouth Carolina Historical Magazine 105, no. 2 (2004): 107–34.


[2] Rogers, John, Plat For660 Acres On Branch Of Lynches Lake, Williamsburg District, Surveyed By HughMccutchen. Date: 11/19/1812. South Carolina State Archives.


[3] Schurlknight,Randall. Patriots of the Map , April 29, 2024.

For better Map Quality:

[4] Daniels, Kent. LLHS Map.Accessed April 29, 2024.


Randall Schurlknight
Assistant Coordinator/Event Coordinator
Helping with management, community and government outreach to help improve historical understanding in the community.