The Composition of Indian Geographical Names - Part 4

Part 4

2. WONKUN, 'bended,' 'a bend,' was sometimes used without affix. The Abnaki equivalent is _[oo]a[n]ghighen_, 'courbe,' 'croche' (Rale).

There was a _Wongun_, on the Connecticut, between Glastenbury and Wethersfield, and another, more considerable, a few miles below, in Middletown. _Wonki_ is found in compound names, as an adjectival; as in _Wonki-tuk_, 'bent river,' on the Quinebaug, between Plainfield and Canterbury,--written by early recorders, 'Wongattuck,' 'Wanungatuck,'

&c., and at last transferred from its proper place to a _hill_ and _brook_ west of the river, where it is disguised as _Nunkertunk_. The Great Bend between Hadley and Hatfield, Ma.s.s., was called _Kuppo-wonkun-ohk_, 'close bend place,' or 'place shut-in by a bend.'

A tract of meadow west of this bend was called, in 1660, 'Cappowonganick,' and 'Capawonk,' and still retains, I believe, the latter name.[63] _Wnogquetookoke_, the Indian name of Stockbridge, Ma.s.s., as written by Dr. Edwards in the Muhhecan dialect, describes "a bend-of-the-river place."

[Footnote 63: Judd's History of Hadley, 115, 116, 117.]

Another Abnaki word meaning 'curved,'

'crooked,'--_pika[n]ghen_--occurs in the name _Pika[n]ghenahik_, now 'Crooked Island,' in Pen.o.bscot River.[64]

[Footnote 64: Mr. Moses Greenleaf, in 1823, wrote this name, _Bakungunahik_.]

3. HoCQUAUN (UHQUoN, Eliot), 'hook-shaped,' 'a hook,'--is the base of _Hoccanum_, the name of a tract of land and the stream which bounds it, in East Hartford, and of other Hoccanums, in Hadley and in Yarmouth, Ma.s.s. Heckewelder[65] wrote "_Okhucquan, Woakhucquoan_ or (short) _Hucquan_," for the modern 'Occoquan,' the name of a river in Virginia, and remarked: "All these names signify _a hook_." Campanius has '_hockung_' for 'a hook.'

[Footnote 65: On Indian names, in Trans. Am. Phil. Society, N.S., vol.

iv., p. 377.]

_Hackensack_ may have had its name from the _hucquan-sauk_, 'hook mouth,' by which the waters of Newark Bay find their way, around Bergen Point, by the Kill van Cul, to New York Bay.

3. [Transcriber's Note: sic] SoHK or SAUK, a root that denotes 'pouring out,' is the base of many local names for 'the outlet' or 'discharge' of a river or lake. The Abnaki forms, _sa[n]g[oo]k_, 'sortie de la riviere (seu) la source,' and _sa[n]ghede'teg[oo]e_ [= Ma.s.s. _saukituk_,] gave names to _Saco_ in Maine, to the river which has its outflow at that place, and to _Sagadahock_ (_sa[n]ghede'aki_), 'land at the mouth' of Kennebeck river.

_Saucon_, the name of a creek and township in Northampton county, Penn., "denotes (says Heckewelder[66]) the outlet of a smaller stream into a larger one,"--which restricts the denotation too narrowly. The name means "the outlet,"--and nothing more. Another _Soh'c.o.o.n_, or (with the locative) _Saukunk_, "at the mouth" of the Big Beaver, on the Ohio,--now in the township of Beaver, Penn.,--was a well known rendezvous of Indian war parties.[67]

[Footnote 66: Ibid. p. 357.]

[Footnote 67: Paper on Indian Names, ut supra, p. 366; and 3 Ma.s.s.

Historical Collections, vi. 145. [Compare, the Iroquois _Swa-deh'_ and _Oswa'-go_ (modern _Oswego_), which has the same meaning as Alg.

_sauki_,--"flowing out."--_Morgan's League of the Iroquois_.]]

_Saganaum_, _Sagana_, now _Saginaw_[68] Bay, on Lake Huron, received its name from the mouth of the river which flows through it to the lake.

[Footnote 68: _Saguinam_, Charlevoix, i. 501; iii. 279.]

The _Mississagas_ were people of the _missi-sauk_, _missi-sague_, or (with locative) _missi-sak-ing_,[69] that is 'great outlet.' In the last half of the seventeenth century they were seated on the banks of a river which is described as flowing into Lake Huron some twenty or thirty leagues south of the Sault Ste. Marie (the same river probably that is now known as the Mississauga, emptying into Manitou Bay,) and nearly opposite the Straits of Mississauga on the South side of the Bay, between Manitoulin and c.o.c.kburn Islands. So little is known however of the history and migrations of this people, that it is perhaps impossible now to identify the 'great outlet' from which they first had their name.

[Footnote 69: _Relations des Jesuites_, 1658, p. 22; 1648, p. 62; 1671, pp. 25, 31.]

The _Saguenay_ (Sagnay, Sagne, Saghuny, etc.), the great tributary of the St. Lawrence, was so called either from the well-known trading-place at its mouth, the annual resort of the Montagnars and all the eastern tribes,[70] or more probably from the 'Grand Discharge'[71] of its main stream from Lake St. John and its strong current to and past the rapids at Chicoutimi, and thence on to the St.

Lawrence.[72] Near Lake St. John and the Grand Discharge was another rendezvous of the scattered tribes. The missionary Saint-Simon in 1671 described this place as one at which "all the nations inhabiting the country between the two seas (towards the east and north) a.s.sembled to barter their furs." Hind's Exploration of Labrador, ii. 23.

[Footnote 70: Charlevoix, Nouv. France, iii. 65; Gallatin's Synopsis, p. 24.]

[Footnote 71: This name is still retained.]

[Footnote 72: When first discovered the Saguenay was not regarded as a river, but as a strait or pa.s.sage by which the waters of some northern sea flowed to the St. Lawrence. But on a French map of 1543, the 'R.

de Sagnay' and the country of 'Sagnay' are laid down. See Maine Hist.

Soc. Collections, 2d Series, vol. i., pp. 331, 354. Charlevoix gives _Pitchitaouichetz_, as the Indian name of the River.]

In composition with _-tuk_, 'river' or 'tidal stream,' _sauki_ (adjectival) gave names to '_Soakatuck_,' now Saugatuck, the mouth of a river in Fairfield county, Conn.; to '_Sawahquatock_,' or '_Sawkatuck-et_,' at the outlet of Long Pond or mouth of Herring River, in Harwich, Ma.s.s.; and perhaps to _Ma.s.saugatucket_, (_missi-saukituk-ut_?), in Marshfield, Ma.s.s., and in South Kingston, R.I.,--a name which, in both places, has been shortened to Saquatucket.

'_Winnipiseogee_' (p.r.o.nounced _Win' ni pe sauk' e_,) is compounded of _winni_, _nippe_, and _sauki_, 'good-water discharge,' and the name must have belonged originally to the _outlet_ by which the waters of the lake pa.s.s to the Merrimack, rather than to the lake itself.

Winnepesauke, Wenepesioco and (with the locative) Winnipesiockett, are among the early forms of the name. The translation of this synthesis by 'the Smile of the Great Spirit' is sheer nonsense. Another, first proposed by the late Judge Potter of New Hampshire, in his History of Manchester (p. 27),[73]--'the beautiful water of the high place,'--is demonstrably wrong. It a.s.sumes that _is_ or _es_ represents _kees_, meaning 'high;' to which a.s.sumption there are two objections: first, that there is no evidence that such a word as _kees_, meaning 'high,'

is found in any Algonkin language, and secondly, that if there be such a word, it must retain its significant root, in any synthesis of which it makes part,--in other words, that _kees_ could not drop its initial _k_ and preserve its meaning. I was at first inclined to accept the more probable translation proposed by 'S.F.S.' [S.F. Streeter?] in the Historical Magazine for August, 1857,[74]--"the land of the placid or beautiful lake;" but, in the dialects of New England, _nipp.i.s.se_ or _nips_, a diminutive of _nippe_, 'water,' is never used for _paug_, 'lake' or 'standing water;'[75] and if it were sometimes so used, the extent of Lake Winnepiseogee forbids it to be cla.s.sed with the 'small lakes' or 'ponds,' to which, only, the _diminutive_ is appropriate.

[Footnote 73: And in the _Historical Magazine_, vol. i. p. 246.]

[Footnote 74: Vol. i. p. 246.]

[Footnote 75: See pp. 14, 15.]

4. NASHAUe (Chip. _na.s.sawai_ and _ashawiwi_), 'mid-way,' or 'between,' and with _ohke_ or _auk_ added, 'the land between' or 'the half-way place,'--was the name of several localities. The tract on which Lancaster, in Worcester county (Ma.s.s.) was settled, was 'between' the branches of the river, and so it was called '_Nashaway_'

or '_Nashawake_' (_nashaue-ohke_); and this name was afterwards transferred from the territory to the river itself. There was another _Nashaway_ in Connecticut, between Quinnebaug and Five-Mile Rivers in Windham county, and here, too, the mutilated name of the _nashaue-ohke_ was transferred, as _Ashawog_ or _a.s.sawog_, to the Five-Mile River. _Natchaug_ in the same county, the name of the eastern branch of Shetucket river, belonged originally to the tract 'between' the eastern and western branches; and the Shetucket itself borrows a name (_nashaue-tuk-ut_) from its place 'between' Yantic and Quinebaug rivers. A neck of land (now in Griswold, Conn.) "between Pachaug River and a brook that comes into it from the south," one of the Muhhekan east boundaries, was called sometimes, _Shawwunk_, 'at the place between,'--sometimes _Shawwamug_ (_nashaue-amaug_), 'the fishing-place between' the rivers, or the 'half-way fishing-place.'[76]

[Footnote 76: Chandler's Survey and Map of the Mohegan country, 1705.

Compare the Chip. _ashawiwi-sitagon_, "a place from which water runs two ways," a dividing ridge or portage _between_ river courses. Owen's Geological Survey of Wisconsin, etc., p. 312.]

5. ASHIM, is once used by Eliot (Cant. iv. 12) for 'fountain.' It denoted a _spring_ or brook from which water was obtained for drinking. In the Abnaki, _asiem nebi_, 'il puise de l'eau;' and _ned-a'sihibe_, 'je puise de l'eau, _fonti vel fluvio_.' (Rasles.)

_Winne-ashim-ut_, 'at the good spring,' near Romney Marsh, is now Chelsea, Ma.s.s. The name appears in deeds and records as Winnisimmet, Winisemit, Winnet Semet, etc. The author of the 'New English Canaan'

informs us (book 2, ch. 8), that "At _Weenasemute_ is a water, the virtue whereof is, to cure barrennesse. The place taketh his name of that fountaine, which signifieth _quick spring_, or _quickning spring_. Probatum."

_Ashimuit_ or _Shumuit_, an Indian village near the line between Sandwich and Falmouth, Ma.s.s.,--_Shaume_, a neck and river in Sandwich (the _Chawum_ of Capt. John Smith?),--_Shimmoah_, an Indian village on Nantucket,--may all have derived their names from springs resorted to by the natives, as was suggested by the Rev. Samuel Deane in a paper in _Ma.s.s. Hist. Collections_, 2d Series, vol. x. pp. 173, 174.

6. MATTAPPAN, a participle of _mattappu_ (Chip. _namatabi_), 'he sits down,' denotes a 'sitting-down place,' or, as generally employed in local names, _the end of a portage_ between two rivers or from one arm of the sea to another,--where the canoe was launched again and its bearers re-embarked. Rale translates the Abnaki equivalent, _mata[n]be_, by 'il va au bord de l'eau,--a la greve pour s'embarquer,' and _meta[n]beniganik_, by 'au bout de dela du portage.'

_Mattapan-ock_, afterwards shortened to _Mattapan_, that part of Dorchester Neck (South Boston) where "the west country people were set down" in 1630,[77] may have been so called because it was the end of a carrying place from South Bay to Dorchester Bay, across the narrowest part of the peninsula, or--as seems highly probable--because it was the temporary 'sitting-down place' of the new comers. Elsewhere, we find the name evidently a.s.sociated with _portage_.

[Footnote 77: Blake's Annals of Dorchester, p. 9; Winthrop's Journal, vol. i. p. 28.]

On Smith's Map of Virginia, one '_Mattapanient_' appears as the name of the northern fork (now the _Mattapony_) of Pamaunk (York) River; another (_Mattpanient_) near the head waters of the Pawtuxunt; and a third on the 'Chickahamania' not far above its confluence with Powhatan (James) River.

_Mattapoiset_, on an inlet of Buzzard's Bay, in Rochester, Ma.s.s.,--another Mattapoiset or 'Mattapuyst,' now Gardner's Neck, in Swanzea,--and 'Mattapeaset' or 'Mattabesic,' on the great bend of the Connecticut (now Middletown), derived their names from the same word, probably.

On a map of Lake Superior, made by Jesuit missionaries and published in Paris in 1672, the stream which is marked on modern maps as 'Riviere aux Traines' or 'Train River,' is named 'R. _Mataban_.' The small lake from which it flows is the 'end of portage' between the waters of Lake Michigan and those of Lake Superior.

7. CHABENUK, 'a bound mark'; literally, 'that which separates or divides.' A hill in Griswold, Conn., which was anciently one of the Muhhekan east bound-marks, was called _Chabinu[n]k_, 'Atchaubennuck,'

and 'Chabunnuck.' The village of praying Indians in Dudley (now Webster?) Ma.s.s., was named _Chabanakongkomuk_ (Eliot, 1668,) or _-ongkomum_, and the Great Pond still retains, it is said, the name of Chaubenagungamaug (_chabenukong-amaug_?), "the boundary fishing-place." This pond was a bound mark between the Nipmucks and the Muhhekans, and was resorted to by Indians of both nations.

III. Participials and verbals employed as place-names may generally, as was before remarked, be referred to one or the other of the two preceding The distinction between noun and verb is less clearly marked in Indian grammar than in English. The name _Mushauwomuk_ (corrupted to _Shawmut_) may be regarded as a participle from the verb _mushau[oo]m_ (Narr. _mishoonhom_) 'he goes by boat,'--or as a noun, meaning 'a ferry,'--or as a name of the first cla.s.s, compounded of the adjectival _mush[oo]-n_, 'boat or canoe,' and _wom[oo]-uk_, habitual or customary _going_, i.e., 'where there is going-by-boat.'

The a.n.a.lysis of names of this cla.s.s is not easy. In most cases, its results must be regarded as merely provisional. Without some clue supplied by history or tradition and without accurate knowledge of the locality to which the name belongs, or _is supposed_ to belong, one can never be certain of having found the right key to the synthesis, however well it may seem to fit the lock. Experience Mayhew writing from Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard, in 1722, gives the Indian name of the place where he was living as _Nimpanickhickanuh_. If he had not added the information that the name "signifies in English, _The place of thunder clefts_," and that it was so called "because there was once a tree there split in pieces by the thunder," it is not likely that any one in this generation would have discovered its precise meaning,--though it might have been conjectured that _neimpau_, or _nimbau_, 'thunder,' made a part of it.