What's in a Name: Lake Waccamaw

Reported by Colin Hackman - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The history of a location's origin isn't always clear, but sometimes that doesn't matter.

Lake Waccamaw is a place in the area that holds tight to the character of a forgotten era.  According to Chief Buster Hatcher, the name likely means arrow ground because of the plentiful supply of river reed used to make Indian arrows.

The Waccamaw Indians kept coming back to the lake for the better part of a 1000 years, but they weren't alone.

"We found evidence of all the Indian tribes in North Carolina passing through here," said Columbus County resident Johnny McNeill.

McNeill is a WWII vet, North Carolina's oldest registered pharmacist, a botanist, an inventor, but at 90 years young he defines himself as, "a man of the lake."

McNeill's favorite stories refer Sam Potts, who was also many things.

Potts was on Robert E Lee's staff before coming to the lake in 1867. He was a photographer an inventor, but most noticeably he owned the lakes only tour boat, The Bohemian Girl.

A practical joker, Potts would have fun with the large logs that would float on the lake.

"So he'd pull along side and have a couple of people stand on it and leave them for maybe an hour" said McNeill.

Like Potts in the early 20th century, people today still love to have fun on the lake.

"I made the move five and a half years ago and have never regretted a minute of it," said resident Brent Jernigan.

Jernigan thought this would be a great place to raise his son, Mathew, who also thinks it was a good move.

"These are good times because you get to do pretty much whatever you want," said Jernigan.  "Everybody does know everybody, and gets along well. There's community get together all the time. It makes it unique."

Unique like McNeill's homemade log cabin, or his 1000 plant pier, or unique in this day and age like knowing all of your neighbors by name.