Monday, October 21, 2013

South Carolina

As a North Carolinian – and one who lives right on the border with South Carolina to boot – I think I am more than qualified to offer this frank assessment of my neighbor to the south:

Minuses
  • Starting the Civil War
  • Flying the Confederate battle flag on the state house lawn
  • Strom Thurmond
  • Nikki Haley; Jim DeMint; the guy who said, “You lie!”
  • Clemson alumni
  • Cocky the Gamecock
  • Hootie and the Blowfish
  • Charlestonians
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Mustard-based BBQ (gasp!)

Plusses
  • South of the Border
  • Band of Horses
  • Stephen Colbert


10. Coosawhatchie

According to what I was unable to uncover, this one means “mustard-based BBQ” in one of the local Native American languages.

I’m kidding, of course.  This actually comes from the Coosa tribe, plus hatchie, their word for “river.”  It has nothing to do with BBQ at all!

So, let’s start this post with a major metropolis, shall we?  I’m talking about 11,000 Coosawhatcha …  Cooseywhatcher …  er, Coosawatchit … Coseywatchma … um …  people!  

Wait a minute ..  You’re not going to believe this, but I think Wikipedia might be a little off on this one.  Looking this baby up on Google Maps, I count about a dozen buildings.  Hmm, does this mean I can’t trust the Internets?

C-town is right off I-95, just before you hit Savannah.  

It does rate its own
historical marker though

9. Pumpkintown

Well, if there is a better way of announcing “we’re just a bunch of hicks,” I can’t possibly imagine what it could be.

This one’s way up in the mountains.  (Yes, SC does have mountains.  They’re nothing – nothing, I tell you – compared to NC’s though.)  The name comes from pumpkins that grew naturally in the valley here.

Yes, of course, they have a festival.  Actually, they have two.  In addition to the you-guessed-it Pumpkin Festival, they also have a Get Down in Pumpkintown music event thingee.  Unfortunately, that second one is actually held in Marietta, SC – though that’s actually not that far away.

By the way, they have one “famous” son – Benjy Bronk, a writer on The Howard Stern Show.

Oops!  Forgot to mention
the famous Pumpkintown Opry

8. Ashepoo

Any town that ends with the syllable “poo” is a sure winner with me.  Me and that highly prized but hard-to-capture 8- to 12-year-old boy demographic.

This may be hard to believe, but it’s actually not what you think.  Turns out it’s from a sub-tribe of the Cusabo Indians.  (Though I still have no idea what it actually means.)

Ashepoo’s also the name of a river and a plantation.  There’s actually very little info at that link, by the way, but it does give me a good excuse to introduce a terrific, incredibly comprehensive site on SC plantations that I have wasted lots of time on.

The town looks to be a couple of houses and a couple of businesses just off of Highway 17.  It’s in the Low Country, not that far from Charleston.


7. Due West

Go due west, young man!  And when you get there, hang a left at the second traffic light – you know, the one with the Dollar Store on the corner, across from the abandoned gas station?  …

Due West is big time, folks.  I’m talking about 1,200 Due Westerners (real people, this time) …  plus its own college!

Yup, DW just so happens to be home to Erskine College.  What?  Never heard of Erskine?  Home to the only Associate Reformed Presbyterian Seminary in the United States?  You know, the Flying Fleet?  (I am not making that last bit up, by the way.)

Fittingly, Due West is indeed in the western part of the state, close to … um … er … let’s see …  uh, the Georgia border?   Yup, that’s about all I can spot around these parts.

See!  You think I make 
this stuff up, don’t you?

6. Ninety Six

There are no shortage of towns with numerically-oriented names like this, but this particular one seems so damned arbitrary and random, I just had to immortalize it here.

There are several competing stories about how this all came about.  In particular, the name is attributed to:
  • The mistaken belief that it was 96 miles to the nearest Cherokee settlement of Keowee
  • A counting of creeks crossing the main road leading from Lexington, S.C, to said place
  • A misinterpretation of the Welsh expression, nant-sych, meaning "dry gulch”
It probably has something to do with early surveying, but we may never know exactly what we’re talking about here for sure.

Ninety-Six is another big-time playuh.  It has all of 2,000 people.  The place started out as a fort, and was the site of considerable action during the Revolutionary War.  It’s just southeast of Due West, by the by.

There really aren’t any famous sons or daughters for this place, but I do like the story of Bill Voiselle, a baseball player from the ‘40s, who recognized his hometown by choosing 96 as his jersey number.  

Other numerically-oriented Palmetto State villes include Three Trees, Six Mile, the priceless Nine Times, and Centenary (that’s a fancy way of saying one hundredth anniversary, by the way).

According to Wikipedia,
these people are lying!

5. Green Sea *

Seeing as I probably passed through this one about a 100 times between my place and my parents’, I just had to know what the heck the story is behind it.

All I remember from driving through on Route 9 is a school (Green Sea Floyds High), but the fine folks at Wikipedia tell me there is also:

We’re in the southeast here, by the way, not too far from Myrtle.  No clue where the name came from … though there are an awful lot of pine trees around here … and it is incredibly flat … and that’s what it often felt like driving through here. 

Hmm, seems like they like to dress in drag here
(2011-2012 Mr. Green Sea Floyds Pageant)

4. Round O

Formerly called The Big O, the Postmaster General asked the town fathers to come up with something a little less suggestive.

Okay, would you believe this place was actually named after a person?  Yup, there was some Native American dude with an O tattooed on his shoulder who got along particularly well with the settlers around here.  His real name was Attakullakulla, but the white folks had a hard time pronouncing that so … Round O it is!

This crossroads is in the greater Ashepoo area, between Cottageville and Drigger Crossroads.  It’s got about 750 people.  They’ve got a bike race here called the Tour de Round O.

I-I-I love a parade …

3. Fingerville *

Early settlers named this one in celebration of the remarkable human digit – and all the wonderful things those fingers allow we humans to do.

Well, actually, no.  It’s another dude – this time, mill owner Joseph Finger.  Ancestry.com tells me that that surname can be English or German and was: “probably applied as a nickname for a man who had some peculiarity of the fingers, such as possessing a supernumerary one or having lost one or more of them through injury, or for someone who was small in stature or considered insignificant.”

This one’s way up north, right on the border with NC.  It’s got 130 people … and not much else.

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”
George Bush; Florence, South Carolina; January 11, 2000

2. Dongola

Hey, isn’t that the thing that lets you plug your Mac into a VGA port?

Hard to believe, but there are actually Dongolas in eight different states.  In addition to SC, NC, MD, VA, MO, IL, and WI can claim one as well.  There are a couple of possibilities for this one:
  • A kind of horse
  • Dongola Kid, a kind of leather
  • A region in Africa, in today’s Sudan (which is also referenced in the Bible)
  • A city in Sudan, the site of a British victory by Lord Kitchener in 1886

My money is on the battle.  That’s what’s behind the rather mysterious Plevna, a town in VA, AL, MO, IN, KS, and MT (as well as the site of a late 19th Century battle between the Turks and Russians).  

I’m kind of surprised I couldn’t find a definitive answer for at least one of these places.  My guess is none of these Donogolas are big enough to really merit the attention.  (The closest I could come, by the way, was a plantation in NC named after a “place in the bible.”)

Okay, so the city in SC …  It looks like a bend in the road along one of the routes to the beach, just a little northwest of Myrtle.  Couple of houses tops.  

Couldn’t find anything on the SC town,
so this will just have to do

1. Pee Dee *

Classic!  As is the story behind it …

Turns out an early settler, by the name of Patrick Daly, carved his initials on trees in the area to mark his land grant.  That abbreviation was later applied to a river as well as the large area of the state the river passes through.

Unfortunately, though, that’s all just a great big lie.  The town was actually named after the river, which was in turn named after the Peedee tribe.  And that may simply mean “people” in the Peedee language.

Pee Dee the town seems to have even less on it than Dongola.  On Google Maps, it looks like a couple of buildings right off I-95, with one huge auto graveyard that you can probably see from space.  It looks like PD is about equidistant from Florence, Marion, and Dillon – i.e., in the middle of absolute nowhere.

God, I love old postcards

Honorable Mention:
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – New Town, Townville, Midway, Central, Level Land, City View, Naval Base
  • Short & sweet – Dale, Peak, Lane, Rion, Elko, Clio*, Trio, Ora, Olar (tiny police station), Una, Iva, Irmo
  • Just a little out of place – Jamestown, Baton Rouge, Texas, Trenton, Princeton, Scranton, Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Paul, Little Rock, Lone Star, Hollywood, Waterloo, Paris, Florence*, Sardinia, Denmark, Norway, Warsaw, Troy, Smyrna, Jordan, Walhalla* (tunnel to nowhere)
  • Orthographically challenged – Starr, Parr, Orr, Hamer, Smoaks, Shepard, Moncks Corner*, Wateree, Gurley, Renno, Olanta, Eutawville, Lesslie*, Earles
  • Native American mouthfuls – Daufuskie Island, Wadmallaw Island, Awendaw*, Yauhannah, Taxahaw, Cateechee, Wisacky, Pocotaligo*
  • Atypical adjectives – North, Silver, Cross, Barefoot
  • Whites only – White Pond, White Oak, White Hall, White House
  • Unconventional verbs – Rains*, Converse, Cope, Guess
  • Abnormal nouns – Bath, Triangle, Prosperity, Pontiac, Sellers, Workman, Gable, Graves, Filbert, Strawberry, Mayo, Oats, Fork, Coward
  • Fun to say – Lugoff, Gluck, Wando, Wampee, Sampit, Ponpon, Pinopolis, Tuckertown, Totmolley, Ardincaple
  • Hard to say – Alcolu
  • Just plain weird – Society Hill *, Orangeburg*, Outland, West View, Blythewood*, Richtex, Startex, Cottageville (city made of bee hives), Powdersville, Tigerville, Travelers Rest, Early Branch, Pringles Bend, Mars Bluff (atom bomb crater), Smiths Turnout, Catholic Hill, Goretown, Dentsville, Burnt Church Crossroads, Fort Lawn *, Folly Beach *, Fair Play, Frogmore, Caesars Head *, Spiderweb, Possum Corner, Blue Brick, Sugar Tit (video)
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Sharon, Ruby*, Hilda, Pauline, Grace, Grover, Alvin, Leo, Sheldon, Dudley, Woodrow, Ebeneezer, Horatio, McBeth, Sandy Springs, Holly Hill, Ben Avon, Reid Park, Victor Mills

* - author has visited

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