Beaufort County, South Carolina

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Beaufort County, South Carolina
Seal of Beaufort County, South Carolina
Map of South Carolina highlighting Beaufort County
Location in the U.S. state of South Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting South Carolina
South Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1769
Seat Beaufort
Largest town Hilton Head Island
 • Total 923 sq mi (2,391 km2)
 • Land 576 sq mi (1,492 km2)
 • Water 347 sq mi (899 km2), 38%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 171,838
 • Density 282/sq mi (109/km²)
Congressional districts 1st, 6th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Beaufort County (/ˈbjuːfərt/ BEW-fərt) is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 162,233.[1] Its county seat is Beaufort.[2]

Beaufort County is included in the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Beaufort County is one of the South's fastest-growing counties,[citation needed] primarily because of development south of the Broad River clustered along the U.S. Highway 278 corridor. The northern portions of the county have also grown steadily, due in part to the strong federal military presence around the city of Beaufort.

The two portions of the county are physically connected via the Broad River Bridge, which carries South Carolina Highway 170. Despite the connectivity, often the "north of Broad" and "south of Broad" populations of the county find each other at odds over county-wide issues dealing with growth management.[citation needed]


From the early days of plantations, African slaves outnumbered the European minority in the colony. The plantations on the Sea Islands had especially large concentrations of slaves, and frequently limited interaction with whites. The islands were sites of the development of the Gullah culture, which preserved elements from a variety of West African roots; the people also developed the Gullah language, a creole language. The county was majority black nearly to the mid-20th century.

Union troops took control of Beaufort County and occupied the area beginning in 1861. Many slaves escaped and went to Union lines. In some cases, planters had moved inland for refuge, leaving their slaves on the Sea Islands. Slaves began to organize schools and other parts of their communities early in the war in this county, especially on the islands. The Army founded Mitchellville on Hilton Head by March 1863 as a village where blacks could practice self-governance, and in 1865 it had 1500 residents. After the war this land was reclaimed by the Drayton family for their own use. In some cases the Union Army allocated plots for blacks for housing and cultivating crops.[3]

When freedmen were granted citizenship and the franchise after the American Civil War by constitutional amendments, most joined the Republican Party. Although not the only black majority state, South Carolina was the only southern state during Reconstruction to elect a black majority of representatives to the state legislature.[3] Beaufort County had many prominent black leaders, such as Robert Smalls, Jonathan Jasper Wright, William J. Whipper, Julius I. Washington, and Thomas E. Miller.[3]

Increasing violence during election campaigns in the state from 1868 on was used by white insurgents and paramilitary groups to suppress black voting; results were also dependent on fraud. In 1876 the Democrats regained control of the state legislature and governor's office, although results were disputed. While black Republicans continued to be elected to local office in Beaufort County and other areas through the next decades, in 1895 the Democrat-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disfranchised most blacks through making voter registration and voting more difficult. They were excluded from the political system and kept in second-class status for decades. In 1903 the county "was reported to have 3,434 literate black males to 927 whites," but due to the discriminatory practices, nearly all blacks were barred from voting.[3]

From 1900 through 1950, Beaufort County's economy suffered from the decline in agriculture, which together with oppressive social conditions of Jim Crow contributed to the blacks making a Great Migration out of the South. African Americans went to northern and midwestern industrial cities for jobs and became an urbanized population. The total county population of 35,495 in 1900 dropped by more than one third to 1930, and did not reach the 1900 population level again until well after 1950, when the population was 26,933. Southern Democrats in Congress helped gain the establishment of military installations in the county and state, which added more population and stimulated area jobs in the second half of the 20th century.

In addition, vacation and resort areas were developed that attracted increasing numbers of tourists through the winter season, and then others all year-round as retirees.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 923 square miles (2,390 km2), of which 576 square miles (1,490 km2) is land and 347 square miles (900 km2) (38%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 18,753
1800 20,428 8.9%
1810 25,887 26.7%
1820 32,199 24.4%
1830 37,032 15.0%
1840 35,794 −3.3%
1850 38,805 8.4%
1860 40,053 3.2%
1870 34,359 −14.2%
1880 30,176 −12.2%
1890 34,119 13.1%
1900 35,495 4.0%
1910 30,355 −14.5%
1920 22,269 −26.6%
1930 21,815 −2.0%
1940 22,037 1.0%
1950 26,993 22.5%
1960 44,187 63.7%
1970 51,136 15.7%
1980 65,364 27.8%
1990 86,425 32.2%
2000 120,937 39.9%
2010 162,233 34.1%
Est. 2014 175,852 [5] 8.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 120,937 people, 45,532 households, and 33,056 families residing in the county. The population density was 206 people per square mile (80/km²). There were 60,509 housing units at an average density of 103 per square mile (40/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 70.66% White, 23.98% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.84% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. 6.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 45,532 households out of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.20% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.40% were non-families. 21.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.30% under the age of 18, 12.00% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 22.10% from 45 to 64, and 15.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 102.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $46,992, and the median income for a family was $52,704. Males had a median income of $30,541 versus $25,284 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,377. About 8.00% of families and 10.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.40% of those under age 18 and 6.70% of those age 65 or over.

Beaufort County is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area. The 2012 estimated population for the MSA was 193,882.[11]




Unincorporated communities

Named islands

Some islands are also towns.

Notable people

In popular culture

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Giselle White-Perry, "The Reconstruction Legacy of Renty Franklin Greaves of Beaufort County, South Carolina", Prologue Magazine, Fall 2010, Vol. 42, No. 3, accessed 14 November 2014
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. List of Primary Statistical Areas
  12. [1] Accessed May 24, 2008.

Further reading

  • Lawrence S. Rowland; "The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina"; 1996, University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 1-57003-090-1.

External links

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