UP THE CREEK WITH A NAME
Do you wonder what the name of that creek down the road from you is called? And where did it get its name from? Do you know why the Indians who lived in this area centuries ago are called Creeks?
For more than a hundred centuries, Native Americans roamed and lived in the lands we now occupy. With no written language, as we conceive written languages, the Indians who lived here lived and died with no written record of their existence. What we know about their culture are the stories and customs which have passed down from generation to generation and from the study of the archaeology of the Native American cultures of the Southeast. One of the most basic facts about these cultures are that these people were first hunters and gatherers but only in the last thirteen or so centuries did they become more sedentary and agricultural. We do know that those people who lived in our area before we did chose dwelling places which were well drained and were located in proximity to the rivers and creeks where wildlife teemed and clean water was abundant. We don't know what they called themselves because their names have been lost to eternity. So, today we call those Native Americans who lived in this area, the "Creek Indians."
So why is this important? Well since these people were the first to live in this area, naturally they were the first to name the rivers and creeks which flowed through the area. Many of Laurens County's streams retain their Indian names. The Oconee River is named after a tribe of Creek Indians that lived in the area along the river. It has been said that Oconee is the Creek word for "the place of springs" or "the water eyes of the hills." A recent discovery of a study of the a 19th century Hitchitee language study reveals that Oconee is the Hitchitee word for "place of the skunk". The middle portion of the river was known to the Indians as "Ithlobee."
The Creek or Muscogee word for creek is "hatchee." Turkey Creek which rises in Twiggs County and flows through Wilkinson and Laurens Counties is the anglicized name of the Indian word "Pennohachee". A branch of Turkey Creek which is known today as Palmetto Creek was formerly called "Taulohatchee" by the Creek Indians. The name of Ockwalkee Creek, which flows from southern Laurens County through Wheeler County to the Oconee River, is derived from the Creek words meaning "dirty water." The name of Stitchihatchee Creek, which is located in the Dexter area, is derived from the Creek words meaning "red man's creek" or possibly "crossing or fording creek." Another of the major creeks in western Laurens County is Rocky Creek. The Muskogee Indian name for Rocky Creek would have been Chattohachi - "chatto" for stone or rock and "hachi" for stream. One of the branches of Pughes Creek in eastern Laurens County is named Indian Branch. Indian Pots Branch crosses Georgia Highway 117 just inside the county line on the highway between Cadwell and Eastman.
Without a doubt, one of the most intriguing creek names of all Laurens County's creek is Hunger and Hardship. Beginning in northern Laurens County and running south and then southeasterly to empty into the Oconee River just above Dublin, Hunger and Hardship Creek was reportedly home to a tribe of Indians, who, you guessed it, Hunger and Hardship. The name first appears on the 1805 survey of the First Land District of Laurens County. Two of the creek's main branches are Sandy Ford which runs from west of the airport, crossing behind the Dublin Mall to join the main run of the creek behind the Shamrock Bowl and Strawberry Branch which runs through Holly Hills and Kingswood subdivisions until it joins Hunger and Hardship just above the bridge on North Jefferson Street.
Who out there knows the name of the only creek in Dublin which flows north? Most of you don't even think of it as a creek, but most of you travel over it at least once a week. It is the creek which starts in Moore Station Development, flows northward and becomes the pond at Fairview Park, then Lake Leisure at the Carl Vinson VA Center, passes down Hillcrest Parkway beside the VA, crosses under Hwy 80 by Capital City Bank and Hillcrest Parkway in front of the new Dublin High School before emptying into Hunger and Hardship Creek near White Oak Subdivsion. This creek, actually a branch, has unpretentious name of "Bud's Branch."
Out in the Buckeye District just above the Claude Graham place flows San Soucci Creek. Sans Souci is a French term meaning "without care." It is also the name of the summer home of Frederick the Great near Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany.
Laurens County is so large that some creek names are repeated. Most of these carry descriptive names. There are four Big Branches as well as one Big Creek. Flat,Crooked, Rocky and Whitewater Creeks appear twice on maps, as well as two Long and Bay branches. But, there is only one Bluewater and one Dry. There is a Gin and Gin House Branch, named for the cotton processor and not the drink. But there is a Rum Creek. It flows just below the Country Club and was originally named Wommack's Mill Creek, for the man who first dammed it up into a mill pond.
Batson, Bell, Brewton, Collins, Hightower, Hogan, Kellam, Joiner, Pitts, Mercer, Pughes, Renfroe, and Whitley are some of the eponymous early names given to creeks by early settlers. Acutally, Mercer's Creek, which is the line dividing Laurens and Treutlen counties is a derivation of the word, "Messer's," named by an early Montgomery County settler and large landowner, Peter Messer.
Pendleton Creek, a major tributary of the Ohoopee River, begins in southeastern Laurens County. The creek was named for Daniel Pendleton, a Captain of a Connecticut company of Col. Baldwins Regiment of Artificers in the American Revolution. According to D.N. Wilkes, of Reidsville, Pendleton Creek, was named for the captain who commanded a company in a fight with the Indians in the area.
Nearby is Pughes (Pugh's) Creek which is named for Francis Pugh, an early resident and militia leader of Montgomery County.
Long Branch runs along the southern side of Dublin and empties into the Oconee River below Riverview Golf Course. Town Branch runs through Stubbs Park and empties into the Oconee River just above Roche's Farm and Garden store. How many of you know that Roberts Branch or Harrison's Branch begins near the tennis courts on Woodrow Ave. and runs by the Chamber of Commerce, Saxon Heights School, and the Dublin Police Department before emptying into the Oconee? How many of you know that a mostly piped and underground feeder creek of Roberts Branch emanates from beneath a spring underneath the Dublin-Laurens Museum?
And, there's Keen's Mill Branch in East Dublin, South Sandy, Little Gut, Walnut, and Scooter Rue Creeks. So who was Scooter Rue? Up in the northwest part of Laurens County above Montrose is the Devil's Branch. It seems there is an old story about a monster who lived along that small creek. Does anybody know that tale? Please let me know if you can name that creek. You know the creek which has no name or least a name that few people know.