Walterboro is a city in Colleton County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 5,153 at the 2000 census (10,064 total pop. of Walterboro Urban Cluster). It is the county seat of Colleton County.
Walterboro (originally spelled Walterborough) was founded in 1783 as a summer retreat for local planters looking to escape their malaria-ridden, lowcountry plantations. The original settlement was located on a hilly area, covered with pine and hickory trees and named "Hickory Valley." Two of the earliest settlers were Paul and Jacob Walter. The two brothers owned plantations in nearby Jacksonboro, SC. Paul's small daughter Mary was taken ill with malaria, a common disease amongst the families who built their plantations in the marshy areas of the Lowcountry, suitable to rice production. To save Mary's life the two brothers went looking for a more healthy location in which to live during the summer months when mosquitoes abounded and started the town that was later named for them. In 1817, Walterboro was named the third county seat of Colleton County, and has remained such until the present. This was followed by the construction of a county courthouse and jail in 1821, the courthouse being design by well-known architect Robert Mills (architect). The town quickly spread out from the original Hickory Valley location, its population growth fueled successively by the town becoming the county seat in 1821, the establishment of a railroad line connecting the city with Columbia and Charleston in the 1880s, the establishment of an airfield in the 1930s and more recently the establishment of Interstate 95 in the 1960s, making the town a prime overnight stop on the road to Florida or New York.
In 1942, Walterboro became home to the Walterboro Army Air Field, a sub-base of Columbia Army Air Base and part of the overall network of army air training facilities that sprang up across the US during World War II. The base was established to provide advanced air combat training to fighter and bomber groups. It also hosted the largest camouflage school in the United States, as well as a 250 person Prisoner of War Camp. In 1944 the air field changed commands and became an advanced combat training base for individual fighters, primarily the black trainees graduating from Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. Over 500 of the famed Tuskegee Airmen trained at Walterboro Army Air Field between April 1944 and October 1945 including individuals training as replacement pilots for the 332nd Fighter Squadron and the entire 447th Bombardment Group. The base closed in October 1945 and returned to its origins as a local airfield.