The territory of colonial Saxe Gotha covered most of present day
Lexington County, and was traversed by 2 important early Indian trails:
- Cherokee Path which followed roughly modern U.S. Highway Number 378
- Occaneechi Path, today U.S. Highway Number 1
trading paths and the highways that later developed from them have had
an enormous impact on the historical development of the area. Most of
the early settlers came from various cantons, principalities and
city-states of Germany and Switzerland. Others came down from
Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Despite the disruptive Cherokee Indian War
of 1760 and the "Regulator" unrest that followed, the township
flourished as a largely self-sufficient area of small scale farming
operations. Major crops in the 18th Century included corn, wheat,
tobacco, hemp, flax, beeswax and livestock.
During the American
Revolution several skirmishes occurred in the area. The Battle of
Tarrar Springs was fought just 1 mile east of Lexington on November
In 1785 Lexington County was established, changing
the name from Saxe Gotha to Lexington in honor of the Massachusetts
Revolutionary War battle. The county's first courthouse was built at
Granby, located just south of present day Cayce.
clearing of upriver lands for the spreading cotton culture, Granby
became plagued with floods. The county seat was moved in 1820 when the
present town of Lexington was laid out on a high, healthy sand ridge
near Twelve Mile Creek. The town was known as Lexington Courthouse
throughout the 19th Century since in the first few years of its
existence there was only the courthouse with few residences.
1861, when it was incorporated as a town, Lexington boasted a diverse
population of lawyers, physicians, tradespeople, artisans and farmers.
There were then 2 churches, several schools, a carriage factory, a saw
and gristmill, a tannery, livestock yard, tin and blacksmiths, and a
weekly newspaper. The major crops of the surrounding countryside were
mainly cotton, corn sweet potatoes and lumber. Lexington was not a
marketing center for these staples, but did serve as a retail market for
manufactured goods purchased wholesale by merchants in nearby Columbia.
In 1865 the town was virtually destroyed by occupying Union Army forces
guarding General Sherman's western flank. The courthouse, county jail
and St. Stephen's Lutheran Church were put to the torch as were most
businesses and homes. The devastation and political turmoil of the
period were weathered, however, by a frugal people willing to rebuild
for a future without abandoning the ideals of their heritage.
The small farms with their varied crops and the lumber industry
stabilized somewhat the economy of the area after Reconstruction years.
The completion of the Columbia to Augusta Railroad just after the Civil
War and the construction of the Lexington Textile Mill in 1890
contributed greatly to the growth of the town itself. Disastrous fires
in 1894 and 1916 on Main Street resulted in the construction of brick
buildings, many of which are standing today.
The Town of
Lexington has continued to be the political center of Lexington County,
one of the fastest growing areas of the nation. With new major highways
passing nearby, the town continues to experience phenomenal growth. The
people of Lexington are proud of their past and look forward to a