The Path to Ninety-Six

Study a map of South Carolina to find a town in the western part of that state that is called “Ninety-Six.” I was raised in the state, and heard that the town was named for being ninety-six miles from the state capital (Columbia). This was not true. Search online for a variety of explanations. One of them is that the topography of that area supported nine creeks that ran East – West and six creeks that ran North – South. I think this explanation is suspect too.

There seems to be some elevation to Ninety-Six, but no indication that the topography is high enough to support the flow of water in different directions, plus I can find no indication that Ninety-Six has so many individual natural springs that spawn these creeks. Allegedly, the name stuck in the early 1700s, so a frontiersman would have named it. A trading post is mentioned, and it seems that whoever put the first trading post there might have given the name.

Web search “Cherokee Path,” to learn that the Cherokee Natives had a society that stretched across several southern U.S. states, that they had towns, and these towns supported communication and trade by an array of foot paths. One such footpath radiated south from the upland South Carolina Cherokee town of Keowee. Guess what? Keowee is ninety-six miles to the Northwest. The footpath was well-traveled by Cherokees who brought fur pelts to trade for mostly metal tools and guns.

Likely, one, or several of today’s rural state roads between Ninety-Six and Keowee lay upon the footpath. It is known that part of State Highway 11 near Seneca, SC, is built on another such path out of Keowee. The Cherokee could not have imagined how forgotten their once-thriving nation could be; how lost their names and accomplishments are among the people of the future who live in the region. This bothers me, for some reason, to wonder if these people mattered, or that their history has been maligned. Yet, I am grateful to be alive to have that opinion.

In the Christian Bible, web search 1 Thessalonians 5:18. The Apostle Paul wrote the verse in a letter to the members of the early Christian Church in Thessalonica, on or about the year 52 AD (52 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ). I take comfort in this verse, because it supports the foundation of Christianity, that God has a plan for each of us and wants us to know him. The only question is: Do we recognize him to be our God, pray to him, and seek his grace to help us understand our footpath through human life. I believe that he knows our history, takes great interest in our journey, and that he walks with us at every step, ever wanting us to perceive that he is there.

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