Present-day Edgefield County was first settled in the 1750's, then a portion of a vast unsettled region of virgin forests, abundant wildlife and Indian tribes. From the time of the first settlements through the period of the American Revolution, this area was part of the Old Ninety Six District which included all of the northwestern portion of South Carolina. During most of this period there were no courts, law enforcement or local government.
In 1785, immediately following the Revolution, the state legislature addressed the lack of governmental structure by dividing the Ninety Six District into smaller counties, including Abbeville, Laurens, Newberry and Edgefield. At that time, Edgefield County was far larger than it is today, encompassing 1,720 square miles.
The seat of government for this broad district was located near this spot on an "Old Cherokee Path" which was the approximate geographic center of the district. The "Publik Lot" was identified as early as 1785, and a "gaol" (jail), clerk's office and courthouse were built during the next several years. However, it was not until 1792 that Arthur Simkins, a prominent settler and political leader, officially conveyed to the "Judges of Edgefield County Court" the 2 1/4 acres where the Town Square and Courthouse are now located.
In the last half of the 19th century and early in the 20th century, as citizens demanded more local political control, the counties of Aiken (1871), Saluda (1895), Greenwood (1897), and McCormick (1916) were created, taking substantial parts of Edgefield County. Today, Edgefield County encompasses only 481 square miles, roughly one-forth of its original size.