What's in a name?

By DAN GEDDINGS
Posted 6/3/18

Yellow flies swarmed just outside the windows of my truck. When I stopped the truck, I sat for a moment or two until they seemed to lose interest and drifted away. They are vicious biters but are slow to react and are easily swatted …

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What's in a name?

Posted

Yellow flies swarmed just outside the windows of my truck. When I stopped the truck, I sat for a moment or two until they seemed to lose interest and drifted away. They are vicious biters but are slow to react and are easily swatted away.

Whenever I see them, I think of Yellow Fly Lane. It was just a narrow path that we cut through the big swamp. The work was done in the summer, and the yellow flies were bad that day. We named the trail after those unrelenting flies.

There are many interesting names for things in the outdoors. Some are obvious, and we understand the connection. Others may be a mystery to us.

Mahoney Crossing was the name of the old dirt road that crossed the big swamp. That name was a mystery to me for years. There were no Mahoneys living in the area. None buried in the local cemeteries that I had visited. So why the name?

I found a likely answer a few years ago. Occasionally I stop and walk around old graveyards. There is so much history to experience in those places. One day I stopped at the old Calvary Baptist Church on Panola Road.

There were the graves of Tindals, Packs and Geddingses and one Mahoney. He had been the pastor of the church many years ago - before automobiles and paved roads. In my mind, I could see him in a buggy or riding a horse on the causeway across that big swamp from his home to his church.

In that same area was a big tract of woodland. A timber company bought the property and cut all the trees. We had hunted the land for years but had never realized how much topography was there. With the trees gone we could see the rolling hills and deep valleys. Someone remarked that it looked like a golf course, and the name stuck. It is wooded again but is still called The Golf Course.

Hunt club roads can get some common and unique names. There is the Sandy Road, the River Road, The Horseshoe, Lovers Lane, Elbow and Cathead, but I think my favorite road name is Shoot Yo Leg Alley. It is a narrow dirt lane through the Upper Swamp on the Edisto. It got its name when a tinhorn hunter decided to practice his quick draw skills with a new pistol. Someone told him to be careful or "you will shoot yo leg" which is exactly what happened.

The land itself or certain features of the land can have a name. Consider the Georgia Ditch. A land speculator from Georgia had the incredibly deep ditch dug by hand years ago, to drain a Carolina Bay for farming. It didn't work out. There is Big Bay near the town of Pinewood and Goose Bay in Bamberg County where I turkey hunted for years.

The Indian Camp is a swath of land near Paxville. The early settlers to the region pushed the local Indians out of the area, and they camped for a time in the dismal swampy woodlands. Hunters, farmers and some older locals still call the place The Camp.

Sparkleberry Swamp is named after the small trees that are common there. Otter Flat is the main water course that runs through The Swamp. There are Pine Island, Snake Creek, Broadwater and Indigo Flats. Dead River is a large oxbow lake that is unexpected when encountered among the narrow creeks and cypress flats.

The high bluffs inland from Sparkleberry give rise to the High Hills of the Santee. The High Hills stretch out across northern Sumter County. In my opinion, they are our rose.

In William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, there is the phrase "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." To me, names are like a rose; they are the essence of a thing or a place. Names can bring memories flooding back into our conscious thoughts and put a smile on our face. They can anchor our everyday experiences.