Comprising the southern and eastern portions of modern Calhoun and Orangeburg Counties, St. Matthew’s Parish was established on April 12, 1768, in what was then the South Carolina backcountry. European settlement of the area began in the 1730s when the colonial government created two abutting frontier townships, Orangeburg and Amelia, between the North Edisto and Santee Rivers. German immigrants rapidly peopled the townships and in 1748 petitioned the assembly for parish status, but it was not until the 1760s, when large indigo planters of English stock began arriving from the coast, that the request finally caught the ear of the legislature.
On August 9, 1765, the assembly joined Orangeburg and Amelia to form St. Matthew’s, allowing the new parish two representatives. A small, wooden parish church was built on Halfway Swamp near present Lone Star in Calhoun County that same year. However, King George III contended that only he could change the size of colonial legislatures and disallowed the parish in 1767. Due in part to the agitation of the Regulators, the assembly reestablished St. Matthew’s in 1768, this time circumventing royal displeasure by granting it one representative taken from the lowcountry parish of St. James Goose Creek.
The original church building was the first of four to serve the parish, each on a different site. The present St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at Fort Motte was built in 1852. With the abolition of the parish system in 1865, St. Matthew’s Parish became part of Orangeburg County.
Culler, Daniel Marchant. Orangeburgh District, 1768–1868: History and Records. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1995.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.
Salley, A. S., ed. Minutes of the Vestry of St. Matthew’s Parish, South Carolina, 1767–1838. Columbia, S.C.: State Company, 1939.