History Concerning St. Matthews

The town of St. Matthews was originally known as Lewisville.  Before becoming a town, Lewisville was a post office established some time before the construction of the South Carolina Railroad (about 1840).  The post office was under the charge of a Mr. Cutler*, and was located near the site of Mr. R. D. Zimmerman's, Sr., cook's house.  The name “Lewisville” had been chosen in honor of Colonel Lewis, a very prominent land owner living in the area. 

The excavation and fill-in for the railroad was made with slave labor.  Each slave owner received twelve dollars per month, per slave; the railroad provided the slaves with food and clothing.  Soil was removed from the excavation sites with homemade stick baskets, and the fills were completed in the same manner. 

As the construction took place, the embankment beyond the depot near St. Matthews formed a pond. Lawsuits were entered on the grounds that this pond created sickness. Because of these suits, the embankment was reopened and old engine boilers were used to conduct the water through the embankment to where the trestle now stands. 

 After the arrival of the railroad, a town sprang up and was chartered "Lewisville" by an Act of the General Assembly in 1872.  However, the Act was never approved by the Governor and became law without his approval (see 15th Statutes, page 73).  The spelling of the name "Lewisville" has long been in dispute. A Mr. Louis opened a mercantile store near the present site of the railroad depot.  Many have confused the correct spelling of "Lewisville," with his name.

Before districts were established in South Carolina, religious parishes had been provided for by an Act passed in 1706. These parishes were the legislative units of the state until 1778.  St. Matthew's Parish, was established in 1765 (See Alex S. Salley's, History of Orangeburg County).  The parishes were abolished by the Constitution of 1865, and legislative and judicial units made the same.  By the "Radical" Constitution of 1868, the title of the subdivisions was changed from district to county.

Lewisville finally became St. Matthews, in honor of the old St. Matthew’s Parish, by an Act of the General Assembly, approved March 24, 1876 (See 16th Statutes, page 153). When Calhoun County was established, Mr. Robert Welch, attorney for the county, left the apostrophe in “St. Matthew’s” out of the bill.  Thus, the town name was officially “ St. Matthews,” without the apostrophe.

* In connection with the post office, Mr. Cutler operated a gun repair shop; remnants of pieces of old flint lock guns have been excavated on this location.

Calhoun County Museum & Cultural Center