South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Early Branch — Early Branch, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Hampton County  |  Early Branch

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Early Branch

The post office seen below forms the heart of the rural Hampton County community of Early Branch. Though the origins of the town’s name remain uncertain, Palmetto Place Names, a study compiled in 1941 by the Work Projects Administration, offers two theories to explain why the village is called Early Branch. The first is that, in 1861, a General Early set up camp at a nearby branch, or creek, during the Civil War. The second is that a man by the name of Early surveyed the land for the South Carolina government in 1806.

Early Branch, SC Post Office

Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

As to the first theory, we have been unable to locate the existence of any Civil War general with the surname “Early” aside from Jubal Early of Mississippi, and there is no record of his having fought near this location during his career. We also have been unable to locate a battle near Early Branch in 1861. The nearest battle to take place that year was at Port Royal, some 34 miles away.

Early Branch Philco Store

Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Another theory, offered by Doug McTeer below, states that it was actually an officer in the Revolutionary War for whom the community was named. We have been unable to verify this information either, but records from the American Revolution are much less complete and harder to locate.

Do you know how Early Branch got its name, or do you have any information you can share about the town? If so, please send it to the South Carolina Picture Project. Thank you!

Reflections on Early Branch

Doug McTeer, a native and lifelong resident of Early Branch, writes:

“Early Branch was established in the early 1870s. The Port Royal to Augusta Railroad was being built, and sawmill towns sprouted up along the route. Civil War officers Colonel William Stokes and Captain John Henry Steinmeyer established one such sawmill. Stokes had a home where the Harris family now lives. Steinmeyer had a home where Clark and Daisy lived (the house that burned.) The sawmill manager, Appleby, lived in the house we live in. [My grandparents] moved into the house when they married.

“Regarding the naming of the town, I don’t believe the General Early story is accurate. I have seen a map (undated) that I’m pretty sure predates the Civil War that refers to the area as Early’s Branch.

“I have heard that the name came from a Revolutionary War officer named Early who camped there. I believe this is most likely. I have never heard the story about the surveyor, though maybe it’s possible.

“By the way, the McTeers had already been in the area for about 150 years, but there was no post office or any settlement.”

Early Branch Info

Address: 34 Ficken Road, Early Branch, SC 29916
GPS Coordinates: 32.746171,-80.929926

Early Branch Map

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5 Comments about Early Branch

SCIWAY says:
April 24th, 2018 at 9:53 pm

That would be wonderful, thanks so much! Would love to see your photos! My email is

Richard Keefner says:
April 24th, 2018 at 5:15 pm

I live close by if anyone needs pics of the post office, let me know, I will shoot them and email and you can share all you want no consent needed.

Terri Dallas says:
December 28th, 2018 at 8:23 am

My father was born in Early Branch in 1925. I have relatives still there who live in walking distance of the post office. Are you related to Daisy Davis?

Patty Davis Runey says:
October 22nd, 2016 at 6:06 pm

My Grandfather, William Melvin Davis, was born in Early Branch, SC. Graves at Zahler’s Cemetery are of family members…Davis, Youmans, Zahler, Heape, Ulmer, Gatch. Searson Cemetery also has family.

Don Searson says:
September 7th, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I lived at McTeer Plantation where my father was manager for L.J.Williams of Yemassee- lived there from five-years-old until about 14. I believe location was NE on/off Mt. Olive Road.


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