Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Why is it Called Ninety Six?

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: At the Ninety Six National Historic Site on South Cambridge Street (State Highway 248), Ninety Six, SC
County: Greenwood
Coordinates: N 34° 8.818    W 082° 1.401
  34.14696666    -82.02335


Why is it Called Ninety Six?
A Colonial Backcountry Settlement

The origin of Ninety Six's unusual numeric name remains a mystery. There are many theories. One plausible explanation is that English traders who passed through here in the 1700s estimated this location to be 96 miles from the Cherokee village of Keowee to the northwest, near present-day Clemson. The first known historical reference to Ninety Six is on a map of 1730, created by George Hunter, surveyor general of South Carolina.

Long before the Europeans arrived in the 1700s -- as early as 900 B.C. -- bands of hunter-gatherers roamed here. The heavily forested land changed with time, as did the native groups, who began to clear fields for farming, weave cloth from natural fibers, and fashion pottery from the area's red clay soil. Of the many Indian groups who inhabited the backcountry near Ninety Six, it was the Cherokee who predominated and used this area as their hunting grounds.

Positioned at the crossroads of several critical trade routes that linked Cherokee territory to the city of Charleston on the coast, Ninety Six became a seat of power in the British colony of South Carolina. The town offered settlers a safe haven, fertile fields, and ample wildlife. Captain George Chicken of the colonial militia recorded that he "killed a boflow" when camping here with his men in 1716.

Steady population growth around Ninety Six eventually led to hostilities between European settlers and Indians. A fort built on this site withstood Indian attacks in 1760.

Erected 2009 by National Park Service.


More information:
NPS - Ninety Six National Historic Site
Wikipedia - Ninety Six National Historic Site
Wikipedia - Ninety Six, South Carolina