The Waxhaws is an area of vague borders in the lower South Carolina Piedmont. It was named for the Waxhaws, an extinct nation of Native Americans who once lived in the area. The center of the Waxhaws was known as the Waxhaw Settlement, consisting of the general area of Lancaster County south of Twelve Mile Creek and north of Cane Creek. The actual boundaries of the Waxhaws, however, are hard to define. Most authors agree that land in Chester and Lancaster Counties makes up what was once the domain of the Waxhaws, so this area still retains the name.
The Waxhaws area was settled by Scots-Irish who came from Virginia and Pennsylvania. They brought the Presbyterian faith with them and founded Old Waxhaw Church, the oldest in the upcountry, around 1750. This church became the center of Presbyterian influence in the backcountry, and with the founding of the Waxhaw Academy, it became the intellectual center as well.
The area was a stronghold of patriot sentiment during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of the Waxhaws (May 29, 1780) was fought here, while the Battle of Hanging Rock (August 6, 1780) took place just south of the Waxhaws. It was here that future president Andrew Jackson, the region’s most distinguished native son, first saw combat. Besides Jackson, other notable statesmen hailed from the Waxhaws, including Governor Stephen D. Miller, Congressman James Blair, U.S. Senator William Smith, and the Revolutionary War hero William R. Davie.
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Moore, Peter N. “Family Dynamics and the Great Revival: Religious Con- version in the South Carolina Piedmont.” Journal of Southern History 70 (February 2004): 35–62.
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Pettus, Louise. The Waxhaws. Rock Hill, S.C.: Regal Graphics, 1993.