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The Dutch Fork

The area between the Broad and Saluda Rivers in South Carolina is commonly known today as the Dutch Fork. It stretches from Columbia at the junction of the two rivers northward to Newberry with the two rivers as the east and west boundaries. Settlers reached the area in the 1730s with the vast majority arriving in 1750 to 1760 with estimates of 12,000 or more. Most came from southwest Germany and Switzerland in search of religious, political and personal freedom, and with the promise of free land. Most arrived in the port city of Charleston and others came to Philadelphia and made their way south.

South Carolina was originally part of the territory given to the Lords Proprietors in 1663, but the council petitioned the King of England and the area became a crown colony in 1721 . In the mid-1700's, Charles Town was a bustling city on the coast, but native Indians roamed freely in the upper parts of the area and were not always friendly. King George II of England was encouraged to promote settlement of the land between these two groups for a buffer and freely gave land to those who petitioned for it. Generally, the bounty grants were 50 acres for each family member and included tools, and food for one year with the stipulation that land be cleared and farmed.

The people prospered, building their homes and the predominately Lutheran churches for worship and establishing a seminary for training pastors. They retained their native language for many years and many variations of family names are found in Bible, census and legal records. They were known to be thrifty but generous to neighbors in need. Family gatherings with food, singing and dancing with a nip or two of the spirits were common.

Some interesting articles and publications about Dutch Fork history and customs will be added at this site.