A few years back a swamp in Sumter and Lee County was in the national news almost every day. A young boy reported to law enforcement that he had been attacked by what he called the “Lizard Man.” It was on TV almost every day, and all the …
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A few years back a swamp in Sumter and Lee County was in the national news almost every day. A young boy reported to law enforcement that he had been attacked by what he called the “Lizard Man.” It was on TV almost every day, and all the networks carried this story with on-site interviews and other information about the Lizard Man. A song was even written about Lizard Man.
It was established in all these stories that Lizard Man lived in Scape ‘Ore Swamp, and this was part of the news coverage. It is a very thick swamp, and with imagination you could very well believe that a Lizard Man could live in this area and not be detected by mankind.
Why is this swamp called Scape ‘Ore?
Robert Cooper of Wisacky found some information in a booklet published by the University of S. C. Department of English in 1965. A section on Lee County place names includes this entry: “Scape ‘Ore Swamp, located near Bishopville, was originally named Escaped Whore Swamp by a group of Revolutionary Volunteers. These soldiers, part of Marion’s Brigade, surprised an encampment of British Regulars who were in the process of entertaining ladies of rather shady backgrounds. The British were captured and the Volunteers allowed the terrified women to flee into the Swamp.”
This is the best known story of how Scape ‘Ore swamp got its name, but from in files we find that this swamp may have obtained this name prior to 1761, 15 years before the American Revolution. This story was told to historian Thomas Stubbs by the late Frank McLeod, who was the solicitor of the Third Judicial Court Circuit:
“Sometime prior to 1761 there lived in the Salem Section of Craven County, St. Marks Parish, Province of South Carolina, a lady of somewhat dubious reputation.
Her dalliances aroused the ire of the people of St. Mark’s Parish, and they ran her out of the county. It is implied that they intended to do more than run her out, but she escaped through the swamp.
“These blunt and forthright forebears of ours immediately put a definite tag on the swamp, designating it with the strongest name of a practicing member of the oldest profession. McLeod says this story had been handed down through his family.”
McLeod also did quite a bit of research into the old records in confirming this tale. He found a grant of 100 acres to Roger Gordon dated July 15, 1768, recorded in the Secretary of State’s Office. He also found other recordings in Sumter County in conveyances of the property in 1803 (the 27th year of independence) that says the property is to the east of Scape Hore Swamp. This same property was conveyed the next year using this same description. Then he found a mortgage for 75 acres in Sumter District lying on Scape Whore Swamp.
There are other recordings on plats showing that they are near Scape Hoar or Scape Whore swamp. We have some of this information if you would like to further do further research. Spelling sometimes did not mean quite as much to some of the surveyors, or maybe the age of modesty made gentlemen stop using the word whore and it became ‘ore.
In any event, the lady of ill repute, who is remembered to this day, should be grateful for being remembered in Sumter and Lee counties for well over 200 years.
We would appreciate our readers watching for her ghost if it exists, and also please call immediately if you happen to see Lizard Man. Bishopville and Sumter can use some national publicity.
AUTHORS NOTE: Places where one can view Scape ‘Ore Swamp are on US 15 between Sumter and Bishopville, on Highway 401 just after passing Oswego going to St. Charles, on US 76 just before arriving at Mayesville and at Muldrow’s Crossing near Concord Presbyterian Church. Scape ‘Ore waters flow into the Black River.
W.A. “Bubba” McElveen was mayor of Sumter from 1980-1988. He now devotes his time to the events and history connected with Sumter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-775-2851 or P.O. Box 1266, Sumter, SC 29151-1266.
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