What’s in a Name? SC’s Old 96 District

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Why is this area of South Carolina called the Old 96 District? From all reports our region was named after a judicial district dating back to the Colonial era when law and order came to the South Carolina backcountry. This area was 96 miles down from the Cherokee Path around Keowee, a major Cherokee town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the plot of land called South Carolina.

How did the name Ninety-Six Originate? One legend says that at one time there were 9 creeks running east and west and 6 creeks running north and south and they came together at one central point. The locals named this point Ninety-Six. The Cherokee Path was a primary trade route between the coast and the backcountry Indian villages and these creeks seem to form near these villages. Along with many other Indian paths, several of the routes crossed near a trading post that was called Ninety-Six. Hence, another numerical explanation for the name.

We think the best legend of all is folklore which tells us that Issaquena, an Indian maiden, fell in love with David Francis, a silversmith who lived near what is now the town of Ninety-Six. Learning that her tribe planned a surprise attack on the settlement, Issaquena mounted her horse to warn the settlers and her soulmate, David. Folks said it was 96 horse’s paces from Issaquena’s village to where David was living. Hence, another explanation for the name Ninety-Six. We are happy to say the locals believe Issaquena and David lived happily ever after. Or so the story goes!

Footnote: Today we call it the Old 96 District in regard to the tourism and travel world. Old 96 District Tourism is one of 11 regional tourism groups located across South Carolina. We promote those travel opportunities and attractions in the counites of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens & McCormick.

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History & Heritage
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Old 96 District
July 22, 2018
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