City or Town: City of York
Named For: York, Pennsylvania which was named for Yorkshire, England
Type of Government: City government, city council with city manager
Year Founded: pre American Revolution
Year Incorporated: 12/7/1841
Area Location: Piedmont region of South Carolina
2020: 8,503
2010: 7,736
2000: 6,985

Early History:

The first recorded inhabitants of the future York area were the Catawba Indians. Recorded inhabitants, their existence was documented by Europeans in some written form. The Issa, Essa, and Iswä were all names given used to recognize the Catawba people by European explorers and traders. The Catawba word “isswä” translates to mean “people of the river” in English. The Catawba Indians lived in the Catawba River Valley around the Catawba River and its many tributaries. The Catawba River is around ten miles east of York.

It was estimated by European explorers during the pre-American colonial period, the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, that the Catawba Indian population exceeded more than 10,000. As European explorers, traders, and settlers entered the region, and interacted with the Catawba people, European diseases (mostly smallpox) that the Catawbas had not been exposed to obliterated the tribe’s population. Around the year 1680, Europeans began to arrive in the region, but in bigger numbers after 1700. These diseases tragically reduced the Catawba population to around 400 by 1775. The Catawba Indian population has never really recovered and by the 2010 United States Census has only risen to 2,600 persons.

Before the 17th century, there is sparce written historical written record regarding the Catawba people. Hernando de Soto, a Spanish explorer, made the first recorded European contact with the Catawbas in 1540. The next European contact is supposed to have been made in 1567 by Spanish explorer Juan Pardo. In Vandera’s tales of Pardo’s expedition, the Catawba people are referred to as Ysa Issa (Iswa). In 1670, German adventurer John Lederer wrote he had made contact with them, referring to them as the Ushery. The Catawba Indians are supposed to have lived for at least 6,000 years in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, along the Catawba River and its many tributaries.

The Catawba people were predominantly an agrarian base culture who augmented their nutrition intake with hunting and fishing. Their society was organized around settlements or villages that were surrounded and protected by forts. These forts were constructed of logs and tree branches. These fortifications were constructed to protect the community from other hostile Indian tribes. Within the village’s walls, there was a massive council structure with a large open area for tribe gatherings. Within the fort as well were dwellings constructed of branches and tree bark. These structures were utilized to house the Catawbas individual families. In addition, round stone sweat lodges were common within these walled fort communities. The sweat lodge played a significant role in within the Catawba Indians’ culture.

The Catawba people were well-known and revered for their business acumen. Their astuteness for trade served their society well with other Native American tribes and European settlers. In the 17th century, trade between the Catawbas and the settlers had an enormous bearing on the Catawba people. Firearms, knives, textiles, toys, and alcohol were among the Catawba’s most popular trade commodities, along with trading deerskins and other animal furs with European traders.

The Catawba people were deemed a peaceful and wealthy culture by other Native American tribes and European newcomers. With this being said, the Catawba also had a fearsome reputation as ferocious warriors among other Native American tribes. Because of their neighboring territory, the Cherokee and Catawba Indians reportedly clashed regularly. However, because of the outstanding commerce relations, with a few exceptions, the Catawba Indians were reputed to be on friendly terms with European newcomers.

As settlers of European descent poured into the Piedmont region of South Carolina and North Carolina in the 18th century, this tight friendship bond served to keep the peace. The cordial connections and commerce benefited both the settlers and the Catawbas. Other tribes who were hostile to the European settlers would quickly find themselves at odds with were Catawba Indians. The ability of the Catawbas to trade with the Europeans aided their society more than that of other Native American tribes. The Catawbas fared better than the majority of other Native American tribes for a while because of their early access to firearms, which gave them a distinct advantage over other tribes, is the best example of this.

Unlike many Native American tribes, during the American Revolution, the Catawba Indians supported the Patriot cause. However, smallpox epidemics beset the American colonial population, which included Native Americans. The Native American population suffered significantly greater harm from these epidemics than the colonial populations of European ancestry. Smallpox shattered the Catawbas, and by 1775, there were just 400 survivors. The Catawbas’ population has never rebounded from these epidemics that so reduced their number.

The early settlers of European lineage to York and the surrounding area were the English and Scots-Irish in the 1750s and 1760s. German immigrants also played a role in the earlier settling of the county. The majority of these traveled down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania. While there were colonial roads and trails into South Carolina’s interior during this time period, generally speaking immigration from the South Carolina coast did not have the same significance as did the Great Wagon Road. The movement traffic down the Great Wagon Road was increased by the growing volume of shipping into Philadelphia rather than the South Carolina ports.

What eventually became the City of York, was first known as Fergus’s Crossroads for a tavern owned by brothers William and John Fergus. Fergus’s Crossroads stood at the intersection of three wagon roads. One road led northwest to Kings Mountain, one road led east to Pinckney’s Ferry, and the third road led northeast to Charlottesburg (Charlotte). This crossroads is thought to have been around where Liberty Street and Congress Street cross today. This central and well trafficked location was chosen by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1786 as the county seat for the newly formed York County. It also happened to be centrally located in the center of the county. With this designation as the county seat, stores, taverns, a courthouse, a jail, and homes quickly developed. It became known as the most populous and prosperous community within the county. The new town was laid out in lots with streets between 1786 and 1788.

The new county seat was originally named Yorkville. The name “Yorkville” was first officially used in 1793 with the recording of a deed from William and John Fergus to William Hill, Jr. for 200 acres for the sum of 100 pounds. The first permanent church structure was erected in 1823, the Independent Presbyterian Church. In Robert Mills “Statistics of South Carolina” in 1823 the community had a population of 451, eight stores, five taverns, a post office, a printer, a male and female academy, and 80 houses. Yorkville was incorporated on December 7, 1841, by the South Carolina General Assembly.

-A referendum was held In 1915 to change “Yorkville” to “York.”

Moto or Nickname of York: The White Rose City
Coordinates: Per Google Earth, Latitude: 34°59′39.72″ N, Longitude: 81°14′31.30″ W
Land Area of York: 8.21 Square Miles
Population Per Square Mile of York: 942.3
Elevation of York: Per Google Earth, elevation is 761 feet
Climate: Moderate
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time UTC-5 and Daylight Saving Time UTC-4
Area Code: 803 and 839
ZIP Codes: 29745
Businesses or Firms in York (2012): 599
Median Household Income in 2019 dollars (2015 – 2019): $39,969
Mean travel time to work for workers aged 16 years plus (2015 – 2019): 25.2 minutes


Previous Location


Next Location