Letter: Where did ‘Puddin’ Swamp’ come from?

by | April 9, 2018 11:30 am

This time of year, as the festival nears, someone always seems to ask the most obvious of questions: How did our area come to be called Puddin’ Swamp? Well, the simplest answer is, uh, we aren’t quite sure!
I spent some time (over the weekend) with Randy Wingard, who, along with Mary Francis Coker, is entrusted with much of our area history at our very own Turbeville History Center located at Town Square. We discussed four scenarios that have been handed down thru history.

1. Is that a “B” or a “P” ?
It’s said that the swampy land surrounding us was actually originally meant to be called “Buddin Swamp,” but the person in charge of making it official misinterpreted the “B” as a “P,” and when the naming was all said and done, well, you get it. Puddin’ Swamp stuck, and forever more was called such.

2. Pudding, but not the Jello kind …
It’s said that there was an elderly man from these parts that was partial to pudding. I don’t mean chocolate or pistachio. More along the lines of the kind derived from a hog – liver pudding and blood pudding. It’s reported that he would show up at the farms around hog culling time, and ask if he could take the makings off the hands of the farmers. Now, it’s unsure how the swamp was named after this man’s cooking hobby, but it’s one of the theories.

3. Sometimes being a good neighbor can bog you down
Just as it still is today, it was the norm “back in the day” for people to help out neighbors in the time of need. One account, which came from the late Delbert Dennis and heard by my own ears, told the story of just such a good deed. Apparently, a lady living on the edge of the swamp heard her neighbor, living across the swamp, had fallen ill. It was pretty customary for folks to take a dish or two over to sickly friends and families, because, of course, who wants to cook when you feel bad.
So, this lady got to cooking to carry some food to the neighbor’s. It was told that her husband had placed a narrow makeshift boardwalk thru the swampier areas to make for quicker visitations to adjacent neighbors. Well, the good hearted lady loaded her arms with some vittles she had whipped up and started her trip to her ailing neighbor. Apparently, she over did it on the cooking and realized she couldn’t juggle all the food. She lost her balance, and one of the bowls of food tumbled in the swamp. Which one? Yep, her bowl of homemade, prize-winning pudding. And from that day forward, as a joke, her family called the area Puddin’ Swamp.

4. Can’t you cook anything else?
One of the favorite stories about how we came to be known as Puddin’ Swamp, goes back to the Revolutionary War era, and the days of the ole Swamp Fox himself – Gen. Francis Marion. It’s said that back when he and his militiamen were traversing thru and camping in the area swamps, they would rely on the graciousness of area farmsteads to help feed the hungry freedom fighters.
It seems that a staple meal was rice pudding. More than likely, it was a cheap way to feed a hungry crowd and probably went a long way. In jest, it was said the militia gave the moniker of “Puddin'” Swamp to their camping area and in recognition of the high quantities of rice pudding they consumed while there.

So, what’s your favorite, and have you a story to tell about how we came to be Puddin’ Swamp?

JENNA REYNOLDS WINDHAM
Turbeville

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