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The Pedee, Waccamaw, And Winyaw; The Hooks and Backhooks Indians

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,North Carolina,South Carolina | No Comments

These small tribes lived on the lower Pedee and its tributaries in South Carolina and the contiguous border of North Carolina. Nothing is known of their language and very little can now be learned of their former daily life or their religious system of belief, as they were never prominent in history.

For the “Hooks” and “Backhooks” there is only the authority of Lawson, who mentions them as enemies of the Santee, living in the earliest part of the eighteenth century about the mouth of Winyaw River, i. e., Winyah bay, South Carolina[1]. The names have a suspicious appearance, as though badly corrupted from their proper forms. Rivers, perhaps from original information, makes them Hooks and Back Hooks, which, if correct, may indicate that the former lived nearer the coast and the others back of them.

The Waccamaw lived on the river of that name, which enters the Pedee from the north almost at its mouth. The Winyaw lived on the western side of the Pedee near its mouth. Black river, a lower tributary of the Pedee from the west, was formerly called Wenee River, probably another form of the same word, and Winyah bay still preserves their memory. The two tribes are mentioned in 1715 as living near together and as receiving supplies of ammunition from the Sara, who were endeavoring to persuade them to join the Yamasi and other hostiles against the English[2]. In 1755 the Cherokee and Notchee were reported to have killed some Pedee and Waccamaw in the white settlements[3]. This appears to be the last mention of the Waccamaw, though from other evidence it is probable that, like the Pedee, Sara, and other tribes of that region, the remnant was finally incorporated with the Catawba.

Pedee Indians

The Pedee are somewhat better known. They lived on the middle course of Pedee River, and on a map of 1715 their village is located on the eastern bank, considerably below that of the Sara (about the present village of Cheraw). They are mentioned in a document of 1732, and again in 1743. In 1744 they and the Notchee killed several Catawba, whereupon the Catawba pursued them and drove them down into the settlements, necessitating the interference of the colonial government to prevent war between the two parties. In 1746 they and the Sara are mentioned as two small tribes, which had been long incorporated with the Catawba. They were restless under the connection, however, and again Governor Glen had to interfere to prevent their separation. This he did by representing to them that either was too weak to stand alone against their enemies, although strong enough when united, enforcing the parable by means of a bundle of ramrods. Incidentally it is learned that the Pedee owned Negro slaves, as also did other tribes near the settlements[4]. In the Albany conference of 1751 they are mentioned as one of the small tribes living among the whites, with which the South Carolina government desired the Iroquois to be at peace[5]. In the following year the Catawba sent a message to Governor Glen to the effect that there were still a great many Pedee living among the settlements, and asking him to advise these to come and live with them (the Catawba), who promised to treat them as brothers. By this means the Catawba represented to the governor that they themselves would be strengthened and the Pedee would run less risk of being killed by hostile Indians while straggling in the woods. It is not improbable that the invitation was accepted by most of the Pedee who had not already joined the Catawba, although there is a record of some Pedee having been killed by the Notchee and Cherokee in 1755 within the white settlements[6].

Pedee Synonymy

Peadea.-La Tour map, 1784.
Pedees.-War map of 1715 in Winsor, History of America, 1887, vol. v, p. 346.
Peedee.-Document of 1732 in Gregg, History of the Old Cheraws, 1867, p. 8.
Pidees.-Glen (1751) in New York Col. Docs., 1855, vol. vi, p. 709.

Waccamaw Synonmy

Waccamaus.-Letter of 1715 in Col. Rec. of North Carolina, 1886, vol. ii, p. 252.
Waccamawe.-Ibid., p. 252.
Wacemaus.-Ibid., p. 251.
Waggamaw.-Map of the Province of South Carolina, 1760.
Waggoman.-War map of 1715 in Winsor, op. cit.,vol. v, p. 346 (misprint).
Wicomaw. -Bowen, Map of the British American Plantations, 1760.
Wigomaw.-Moll, map of Carolina, 1720.

Winyaw Synonmy

Weenees.-Rivers, History of South Carolina, 1856, p. 36 (same?).
Wenee (river). -Map of the Province of South Carolina, 1760.
Wineaus.-Letter of 1715 in Col. Rec. of North Carolina, 1886, vol. ii, p. 251.
Wingah.-Map of the Province of South Carolina, 1760 (misprint).
Winyaws.-Mills, Statistics of South Carolina, 1826, p. 108.
Winyo.-Bowen, Map of the British American Plantations, 1760.
Wyniaws. -Gallatin in Trans. and Colls. Am. Antiquarian Soc., 1836, vol. ii, p.89.

Hooks Synonmy

Hooks.-Lawson (1714), History of Carolina, reprint of 1860, p. 45.
Backbooks.-Lawson, op. cit., p. 45 (misprint).
Back Hooks.-Rivers, History of South Carolina, 1856, p. 35.


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  1. Lawson, John. The history of Carolina, containing the exact description and natural history of that country, etc., p. 45. (Reprint from the London edition of 1714.) Raleigh, 1860.
  2. North Carolina. The Colonial Records of North Carolina, published under the supervision of the trustees of the public libraries, by order of the general assembly, Documents of 1715, vol. ii, pp. 251-2. Collected and edited by William L. Saunders, secretary of state. 10 vols. Raleigh, 1886-1890.
  3. Gregg, Alexander. History of the old Cheraws, containing an account of the aborigines of the Pedee, the first white settlements, etc., extending from about A. D. 1730 to 1810, with notices of families and sketches of individuals; p. 15. New York, 1867.
  4. Gregg, Alexander, op. cit., documents quoted, pp. 8-13.
  5. New York. Documents relative to the colonial history of the state of New York. Procured in Holland, England, and France, by John Romeyn Brodhead, etc. Edited by E. B. O’Callaghan, Glen (1751) and Albany Conference of 1751, vol. vi, p. 721. Albany, 1856-’77. 12 vols.
  6. Gregg, Alexander, op. cit., documents of 1722 and 1756, pp. 13-15.

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