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Barnwell, South Carolina
—  City  —
Location of Barnwell, South Carolina
Coordinates: 33°14′40″N 81°21′48″W / 33.24444°N 81.36333°W / 33.24444; -81.36333
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Barnwell
 - Total 7.8 sq mi (20.1 km2)
 - Land 7.6 sq mi (19.8 km2)
 - Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 217 ft (66 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 5,035
 Density 659.5/sq mi (254.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 29812-29813
Area code(s) 803
FIPS code 45-04060[1]
GNIS feature ID 1244965[2]

Barnwell is a city in Barnwell County, South Carolina, United States, located along U.S. Route 278. The population was 5,035 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Barnwell County[3].



Barnwell is located at 33°14′40″N 81°21′48″W / 33.24444°N 81.36333°W / 33.24444; -81.36333 (33.244534, -81.363214)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.8 square miles (20.2 km²), of which, 19.8 square kilometers (7.64 sq mi) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.80%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 5,035 people, 2,035 households, and 1,353 families residing in the city. The population density was 659.5 people per square mile (254.8/km²). There were 2,304 housing units at an average density of 301.8/sq mi (116.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.81% White, 47.37% African American, 1.05% Asian, 0.40% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.62% of the population.

There were 2,035 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 22.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,722, and the median income for a family was $37,841. Males had a median income of $35,039 versus $21,912 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,709. placing it in the top third of the state. About 20.4% of families and 22.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.5% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.


The county was originally part of Orangeburg District, and in 1785 it was named Winton County. It was given its current name in 1798 when the County and its seat were named for Revolutionary War leader John Barnwell (1748-1800), who headed a militia in South Carolina. Barnwell County originally stretched from the Savannah River on the west almost to the Atlantic Ocean.

Built in 1832, the South Carolina Railroad connected Charleston to Hamburg, near Augusta, Georgia on the Savannah River. The railroad, which went through the middle of the county, was the first steam railroad in the world. Two stops on the railroad created the towns of Blackville, South Carolina and Williston in the mid-nineteenth century.

Barnwell is home to what is thought to be the only vertical freestanding sundial in the USA,[5] though counter-examples exist.[6] The Barnewll sundial was surrounded by a parking lot in the 1960s but in the 1990s the city removed the parking lot, built a park, and made the sundial a focal point.[citation needed]


Civil War

Barnwell gave generously to the Confederate cause; the most distinguished person was General Johnson Hagood, who was later governor of South Carolina. Soon after Hagood's election, one of his constituents asked him if he wished to be called "General" or "Governor". "Call me General," Hagood said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I fought for that and begged for the other."[citation needed]

Barnwell was hated by General W.T. Sherman; he felt that the town should be burnt to the ground since it carried the name of one of the most prominent politicians who had demanded South Carolina’s withdrawal from the Union. When General Judson Kilpatrick was in Barnwell, his horses were stabled in the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles; the font in the church was used to water the horses.[7]

20th century

Barnwell Army Airfield w as built by the United States Army Air Forces and opened in May 1943. It was a satellite airfield of Columbia Army Air Base, supporting B-25 Mitchell medium bomber training for Third Air Force III Air Support Command. After the war it became Barnwell Regional Airport.

In 1950 the federal government asked DuPont to build and operate a plutonium production plant near the Savannah River in South Carolina. The company had unmatched expertise in atomic energy, having designed and built the plutonium production complex at the Hanford site, for the Manhattan Project during World War II. A large portion of farmland was bought under eminent domain and converted to the Savannah River Plant, managed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Several towns and over 100 cemeteries were relocated during this time, including Dunbarton and Ellenton. Dunbarton was the town in which Duncannon was located; it was an early 19th century plantation and a wildlife preserve. Former President George H. W. Bush and his brothers used to visit their grandfather George Herbert Walker at the plantation.[citation needed] Union General William T. Sherman allegedly spared the plantation, built in 1835, because a woman and sick child were resting in a bedroom upstairs.[citation needed]

U.S. Army soldiers were brought into the county and were used as guards at this new facility. A camp was constructed for the soldiers off of Clinton Street in an area of the Little Salkehatchie swamp called O’Bannon Point. After discharge, many of these troops stayed on at SRP as civilian guards.[citation needed]

DuPont ran the Savannah River Site until 1989, when Westinghouse began the management of the facilities for the Department of Energy. The Savannah River Plant changed its name to the Savannah River Site. It was once one of the largest employers in the county.

Historical landmarks

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles and its rectory, as well as the Bethlehem Baptist Church and the Old Presbyterian Church were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s.

Notable residents

The most widely-known former resident is entertainer James Brown, "The Godfather of Soul", who was born in the Elko area of Barnwell and moved to Augusta at the age of six to live with his aunt. Others include:


The county was home to the Barnwell Ring, several powerful state politicians. Included were state Senator Edgar A. Brown (1888–1975), state Speaker of the House Solomon Blatt, Sr. (1895–1986), and Governor Joseph E. Harley (1880–1942). Other state and national politicians from Barnwell include:


External links


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