Yemassee is a small Lowcountry town in Beaufort and Hampton counties in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 1,027 at the 2010 census. Yemassee is also very near the borders of Colleton and Jasper counties and is often considered to be the geographical center or heart of the Lowcountry region. The town is divided by the county line between Beaufort and Hampton counties, which follows the roadbed of the CSX railroad. Most of the town’s population presently lies within Hampton County (as of 2006). As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Beaufort County portion of Yemassee is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area. Yemassee hosts one of the few commercial breeding facilities of non-human primates in the entire United States (Alpha Genesis, Inc.). Also, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Auldbrass Plantation house and outbuildings lie just outside the town limits of Yemassee.
The town takes its name from the Native American tribe of the same name, the Yemassee, which was the most important Indian ally of South Carolina until the Yemassee War of 1715. The first attack that began the Yemassee War occurred in the Yamasee town of Pocotaligo, today part of the town of Yemassee.
The site of the present town is surrounded by both Revolutionary and Civil War sites. The remains of Civil War field fortifications can be observed along U.S. 21 and 17A between Yemassee and Pocotaligo (that section of highway is now a part of Yemassee, as the town has now greatly expanded into Beaufort County [as of 2006]). As of 2018 there is a building boom underway in and around Yemassee. The rural aspect of Yemassee is now (as of 2018) beginning to disappear with the construction of large numbers of new homes and very large housing developments in the area.
William Gilmore Simms published a novel, The Yemassee: A Romance of Carolina, in the nineteenth century, and the University of South Carolina in Columbia publishes a literary journal named Yemassee.
The Yemassee Train Depot was the final stop for Marine Corps Inductees to Parris Island for much of the 19th and 20th century. – TV Documentary “Once A Marine” by William E Mahoney – SCETV
The Auldbrass Plantation was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Yemassee is accessible from three exits along Interstate 95 (exits 33, 38 and 42), which runs to the west of the town limits. Alternate U.S. Highway 17 and U.S. Highway 21 run through the town. S.C. Highway 68 connects Yemassee with other communities in Hampton County, including Varnville and Hampton.
The town is also home to an Amtrak station, which serves as the principal rail access point for the Lowcountry region.