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Ninety Six, South Carolina
Sunset over the battlefield at Star Fort
Sunset over the battlefield at Star Fort
Location of Ninety Six, South Carolina
Location of Ninety Six, South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Greenwood
 • Total 1.50 sq mi (3.88 km2)
 • Land 1.50 sq mi (3.88 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
548 ft (167 m)
 • Total 1,998
 • Density 1,334/sq mi (515.1/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 864
FIPS code 45-50290
GNIS feature ID 1249874

Ninety Six is a town in Greenwood County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 1,998 at the 2010 census.


Ninety Six is located in eastern Greenwood County at 34°10′24″N 82°1′18″W / 34.17333°N 82.02167°W / 34.17333; -82.02167 (34.173211, -82.021710). South Carolina Highway 34 passes through the town as its Main Street; it leads west 9 miles (14 km) to Greenwood, the county seat, and east 27 miles (43 km) to Newberry. Lake Greenwood State Park is 5 miles (8 km) northeast of town, and Ninety Six National Historic Site is 2 miles (3 km) south of the center of town.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Ninety Six has a total area of 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2), all land.


There is much confusion about the name, "Ninety-Six", and the true origin may never be known. Speculation has led to the mistaken belief that it was 96 miles (154 km) to the nearest Cherokee settlement of Keowee; to a counting of creeks crossing the main road leading from Lexington, South Carolina, to Ninety-Six; to an interpretation of a Welsh expression, nant-sych, meaning "dry gulch". No one is able to confirm that founder Robert Goudey (sic) was Welsh, English, Scottish, or German. An examination of early maps indicates markings such as "30" and "60" and "90" at different points, possibly indicating chains, a surveying measurement. Since Ninety-Six was located in Clarendon Parish, it is possible that parish linear measurements as used in England were used on colonial maps to measure distances in "chains". In England, according to a British and Welsh booklet designating linear measurements, parish maps used a rule of "4 chains to the inch". In using that parish rule on an early map of colonial South Carolina, 90 "chains" on a map would probably cover approximately 24 inches (610 mm), the map distance from "Saxe Gotha" (modern Lexington, South Carolina) to Ninety-Six. Using the same measurements for the distance from Ninety-Six to the Savannah River, the measurement would be approximately 2.5 inches (64 mm), or (very) roughly 6 "chains", hence 96. Even so, the origin of the name "Ninety-Six" remains a mystery.


Ninety Six was established on the frontier in the early 18th century. For a time it was known as "Jews Land" because some prominent Sephardic Jewish families of London bought extensive property there. The Salvador and DaCosta families bought 200,000 acres (810 km2), intending to help some poor Sephardic families relocate from London to the New World.

The settlement became the capital city of the Ninety-Six District when it was established in July 1769. Since the late 20th century, the National Park Service operates the Ninety Six National Historic Site at the site of the original settlement and fort.

Ninety Six figured prominently in the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758–1761). During the American Revolutionary War, it was a site for southern campaigns. The first land battle of the revolution south of New England was fought here in 1775. On August 1, 1775, American militia forces led by Major Andrew Williamson were ambushed by Cherokee and Loyalists near here in the Battle of Twelve Mile Creek; more than 4,000 Cherokee had waged war on a long front beginning in June, from Tennessee to central South Carolina. Francis Salvador, a Sephardic Jewish immigrant from London and a planter, was one of the casualties; he was the first Jew to be killed fighting with the Patriots in the Revolutionary War.

In 1780 the British fortified the strategically important frontier town with a star fort. From May 22 to June 18, 1781, Major General Nathanael Greene, with 1,000 Continental Army troops, besieged 550 American Loyalists who were defending Ninety Six. General Greene's chief engineer at the siege was the world-renowned Polish hero Colonel Tadeusz Kościuszko, who was wounded at the siege. The Loyalists survived the siege and relocated after the war to Rawdon, Nova Scotia, Canada, with support from the Crown for resettlement.

The Kinard House, Moore-Kinard House, Ninety Six National Historic Site, and Southern Railway Depot (Ninety Six, South Carolina) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 468
1890 445 −4.9%
1900 414 −7.0%
1910 758 83.1%
1920 773 2.0%
1930 1,381 78.7%
1940 1,453 5.2%
1950 1,556 7.1%
1960 1,435 −7.8%
1970 2,166 50.9%
1980 2,249 3.8%
1990 2,099 −6.7%
2000 1,936 −7.8%
2010 1,998 3.2%
Est. 2015 2,048 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,936 people, 820 households, and 560 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,325.1 people per square mile (512.0/km²). There were 904 housing units at an average density of 618.7 per square mile (239.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 76.50% White, 22.73% Black, 0.15% Native American, 0.05% Asian, 0.21% from other races, and 0.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.52% of the population.

There were 820 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the town, the age distribution of the population shows 24.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 81.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $33,423, and the median income for a family was $39,550. Males had a median income of $30,978 versus $25,034 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,648. About 7.0% of families and 8.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Representation in popular culture

The 1781 siege was described in William Gilmore Simms' novel, The Forayers, (1855). It is also featured in Kenneth Roberts' novel, Oliver Wiswell (1940), which includes a chapter entitled "Ninety-Six."

The town is mentioned in the song "This Old Skin" by The Beautiful South.

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