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no secret of their adherence to the dictum that the only good Indian
possible was one from whom his breath had departed never to come
back. The Indian could most truthfully say to the Scotch-Irish settler:
"White man, there is an eternal war between thee and me 1" This class
of settlers was the aggressive, forceful, fighting stock; the Quaker was
a non-combatant ; the Germans who had come by thousands into Penn's
Colony lacked initiative and the vim, energy and cool courage of their
Ulster neighbors. They did not show the revengeful spirit, or the dog-
ged, resolute, untiring determination to end the menace of the red
race even to extermination. As the settlers increased and the years wore
on, this determination became more fixed, and with each new outrage
the hatred for the Indian grew stronger. Why not? we may ask. To
quote Roosevelt:

"Their silence, their cunning and stealth, their terrible prowess^
make it no figure of speech to call them the tigers of the human race.
Tireless, careless of all hardships, they came silently out of the unknown
forests, robbed and murdered, and then disappeared again into the
fathomless depths of the woods. Wrapped in the mantle of the unknown,
appealing by their craft, their ferocity, their fiendish cruelty, they seemed
to the white settlers, devils, not men."^*

The Pennsylvania Indians. knew they were driven to the West by
the demand of the Ulstermen of the Province. They recognized their
enemies. They knew the land-hungry Penns sold to the settlers the
land they had gained by fraud and had held by the power of the Iro-
quoian master-hand which raised in menacing anger towards the helpless
vassals pointed to the trail across the Endless Mountains.

Driven from their first assignments of their masters they spread
their towns over Western Pennsylvania. With Logstown arose Saucunk
(Beaver), Kushkusking (New Castle), Kittanning, Venango and some
smaller towns — Shannopin's Town, Aliquippa's Town, and others of fre-
quent mention in the history of Western Pennsylvania and the West.

Not all were Delaware towns, however, for the Shawanese came, too.
The wandering traders, steeped in vice, whose one great commodity was
rum, followed in the footsteps of the retreating tribesmen. Rum and
land had been the primal causes of the emigration of these tribes. Rum
and land continued causes, but the contest for the land lay between
white races, but of a different blood.



i«"Winiiing of the West;" Theodore Roosevelt, Part I, pp. 109-xio.



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INDIANS IN PETTICOATS 145

The French traders came, too, and then in the debatable land about
the Ohio the great struggle commenced between the Anglo-Saxon —
the Teuton, one may say, and the Celt. In the eighteenth century the
beautiful Ohio river and its glorious country was the prize. The Anglo-
Saxon won, else we may not have been here.



Pitti.— 10



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CHAPTER VIIL
Our Indian Nomenclature.

Ye say their cone-like cabins

That clustered o'er the vale
Have fled away like withered leaves

Before the autumn gale ;
But their memory liveth on your hills.

Their baptism on your shore,
Your everlasting rivers speak

Their dialect of yore.

Old Massachusetts wears it

Upon her lordly crown.
And broad Ohio bears it

Amid his young renown.

—Mrs. Sigourney.

One enduring impress left upon Pennsylvania by the Indians and
undoubtedly the most conspicuous is that made by their names of places,
and especially of flowing waters. The reason is plain. They are not
only beautiful, but sensible and expressive. True, there are some cor-
ruptions. The originals retain their beauty, the changed forms are less
pleasing. It is a striking remark of Louis H. Morgan ("Skenandoah")
in his dissertation on the language of the Iroquois, that through all
generations that language will be spoken in our geographical terms.
This remark is particularly applicable to Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Sigour-
ney has most beautifully expressed the fact in one of her few poems
that are still readable, "Indian Names." Many such terms of designa-
tion applied geographically, have lapsed, others have been anglicized
and distorted; few have been retained in their original forms. The
Seneca name for the Forks of the Ohio, De-un-da-ga, expressing only
the idea of forks, is one that did not endure, while the distinctly Dela-
ware names, Monongahela and Youghiogheny, remain as sensible and
expressive as when first applied. The whole subject of Indian names
in our geographical and Pittsburgh street designations is a wide one,
and it is evident from the mention of each that there can be evoked
more or less history of varying import. These phases of history can
be made to include sketches of the noted and notorious Indian char-
acters who colored this history and the narration of events that hap-
pened at many localities. An instance of the first is Shingiss; the
second. Kittanning.

The Indian was the child of the forest, a child of nature. He never
coined a name that did not have a sensible and fitting meaning. He did
not apply names of animals singly in his geographical designations, or
his tribal name, or the names of his chiefs. The whites did that. They
took away the name Onondaga from the seat of the great council house of



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OUR INDIAN NOMENCLATURE 147

the Six Nations, most worthy of preservation from its historic associa-
tions, and applied it to the lake and New York county that we know
and dubbed the town that now is nearest the ancient site of the council,
Syracuse, the name of a Greek colony in Roman Sicily, a name that means
nothing to America. So, too, Rome and Utica in New York, and hun-
dreds of names all over the land from the antiquity of defunct nations.

The Indian would never designate a town Buffalo, Red Oak, Paw
Paw, Seneca or Kilbuck, neither would he give us Aliquippa's Cross
Roads, or Complanter's Comers. He had no poliseSy burgs or villes.
He knew no language but his own or an allied one, with the exception of
some few French and English words — and these mostly vile ones. When
he gave a place a name it was always significant and often entrancing
in euphony. It was deserving also.

We have had handed down to us nevertheless many geographical
names purely Indian — in this region mainly from the Delaware tongue,
some Iroquoian on account of the preponderance of the Senecas here-
abouts. We have become so accustomed to some names that we never
consider their origin.

We have in the Indian names of our local rivers examples of euphony
and changing from the Greek to the Latin adjective derivative we may
say mellifluous; sweetly flowing — hence smooth. We have our best
instance of this in the word Ohio. Aliquippa is equally as smooth, and
the Iroquois tribal names Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga and Tus-
carora appeal. They are all smooth and resonant. Mohawk is not.
Contrary instances are Kittanning; Shawanese, contracted to Shawnee,
and Shingiss, and they are not so bad as some recent creations for street
designations. Many Indian names that have come down are those given
individuals by white men, notably Kill-buck, which bears its own inter-
pretation. White Eyes, Captain Pipe and the White Mingo. Of these
we have Kilbuck prominent in a street and a township in Allegheny
county. It may be set down as a fact that Indian names are always
full of expression and replete with common-sense interpretations. Thus
Ohio is the beautiful river ; La Belle Riviere, the French translated and
designated it; Mbnongahela, the river with the falling in banks; Con-
noquenessing, a long, straight course ; Youghiogheny, a stream running
a contrary or crooked course ; all these meanings we know are charac-
teristic and d.escriptive. The well-known Indian term, Saukunk, de-
scribed the town "at the mouth," because its location was at the mouth
of the Big Beaver, which name has been translated by the French, Grand
Castor. Most of our Indian names in Pennsylvania are of Iroquois
origin. We have them in our Pittsburgh streets. Susquehanna, Tioga,
etc. We have Delaware names in Kittanning and Sewickley, meaning
"at the main mountain stream," and the "place of sweet water trees,"
respectively.



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148 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

Spellings of Indian names vary greatly. It is seldom that two authors
spell alike. For instance, Parkman always calls them the Shawanoes.
Charles A. Hanna gives twenty-one names for this tribe, mainly varia-
tions. The French called them the Chaouanons. Our common form is
Shawnee. So, too, the Delawares, which suggests itself as a distinctive
English term, readily associated with the river on which they once dwelt.
In history the English designation has obtained preference and we
seldom read of the Lenape otherwise designated. Running over the
voluminous list of Pittsburgh street names the impress of the Indians
on our history is apparent. The Indian could not spell. He had no
written language unless we except sign words exemplified in the rude
sketches on the rocks that have been found, the best known now those
in the Ohio river near Smith's Ferry, once visible at low water, but now
submerged by reason of raising the water in the pools made by the
slackwater system of dams and locks.

The early writers hence attempted to spell Indian names phonetically
and made queer jumbles. The French were distorters of these names
and with the Swedish, Dutch and English forms, there is little wonder
antiquarians are puzzled, and there has been built up many an argument
upon similarity of Indian words in the various tongues and dialects.
Heckewelder, a Delaware, one may say, by adoption, is the most ingen-
ious of this class of writers.

In the commemorating names bestowed upon Pittsburgh streets and
some in the larger surrounding towns, there will be found those of
Indian nations, tribes, sachems, warriors, localities and other terms.
Names of individuals have survived whose deeds make pages of history.
Once we shrank in horror from the recital of their shocking records.

In the same manner as in the bestowal of white race commemoration,
that of Indian nomenclature as applied to our streets has been haphazard,
regardless alike of contiguity or logical connection, and in some instances
the commemoration has been unwise, in that it has made to endure
the base and the destestable. Names that once caused terror have been
perpetuated in our city. Notable instances are Shingiss, Chartiers,
Pontiac and Osceola, the latter without local significance and wholly
from the standpoint of euphony. The name charms from its richness
of vowel sounds. Pontiac and Shingiss made bloody history here. The
admiration that attaches to these names simply as names is not an
admiration to be commended.

In the list of street names, instances of individual commemoration
may be cited in Aliquippa, Hiawatha, Kilbuck, Osceola, Pontiac, Shin-
giss and Tecumseh—- of these, three only, concerned in our local history.
Nations and tribes are called to mind in Catawba, Cherokee, Chippewa,
Comanche, Dakota, Delaware, Erie, Huron, Iroquois, Miami, Mingo,
Mohawk, Modoc, Oneida, Natchez, Ottawa, Pawnee, Seneca, Sioux,



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OUR INDIAN NOMENCLATURE 149

Shawnee, Susquehanna, Tuscarora, Winnebago and Wyandot; locali-
ties are brought in view by Itasca, Iowa, Juniata, Kanawha, Kearsarge,
Kenesaw, Lehigh, Niagara, Ontario, Ossipee, Penobscot, Pocussett, San-
dusky, Sciota, Shamokin, Wichita, and Wyoming; other Indian terms
in our streets are Sachem, Tomahawk and Wampum.

Undoubtedly some of these names, especially the geographical ones,
have been applied through fancy. It is the old story of the rose and its
perfume. Among these are some names that are distinctively family;
others both family and tribal ; of these latter Dakota and Sioux, Natchez,
Huron, Cherokee. In the application of the names to the various streets
contiguity of location has never been considered; Natchez street, for
instance, is on Mt. Washington ; Cherokee street on Herron Hill ; Oneida
street on Duquesne Heights, and Seneca in the Soho district, several
miles away from Oneida. Natchez street's name, however, came from
the Mississippi town, once a famous place and well known to Pittsburgh
steamboatmen.

It needs no argument to prove that a system that places all Indian
names in one section of the city would be a practical and sensible system
— a clue always to the location of a street bearing an Indian name. But
these names having come singly and at varying periods, it is unwise now
to change them ; such changing would become complex. The time and
opportunity for it have passed.

As one instance how one geographical term evokes no interest from
exceedingly great familiarity, we may take "Erie," long applied to an
obscure and unimportant street on the North Side of Pittsburgh, once
the city of Allegheny. Erie is one of our best known Indian commemo-
ratives and one of smoothest and prettiest. Few think of its origin.
Fewer know its history, and that it was the name of an ancient tribe,
bestowed on neighboring lake and city, hence not familiar. The Eries
passed away more than two centuries ago. Most antiquarians think
they were akin to the Iroquois. They were properly of the Wyandot
or Huron — Iroquois family. These with the Andastes, although of
like blood, were nevertheless exterminated by the Iroquois proper or
the Confederacy of the Five Nations.^ We find the name Wyandot
spelled, also Wyandott and Wyandotte, the former the accepted spelling,
but spelled Wyandotte in our street name. The Hurons and Wyandots
are the same tribe. It was in 1649 ^^^^ ^^^ Iroquois subdued and dis-
persed them in the Huron country. However, they rallied again and
were never positively conquered. It is claimed for this tribe that down
to the end of the eighteenth century they exercised sovereignty over the
Ohio country.

Contradistinguished from the Iroquois, there is to be noted the



i''Indian Geographical Names;*' Russell Errett, in ''Magazine of Western History;"
Vol. II, No. 3 (Sept, 1885), p. 336.



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ISO HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

great Algonquin family comprising twenty-one tribes that figure in the
colonial history of America, including the Indians of New England, and
of those that ranged about Fort Pitt and gathered there at times, the
Mohicans, Dela wares (Lenape), Shawanese, Miamis or Twightnees,
Kickapoos, Pottawatomies and Ottawas, and Chippewas.

Of the Southern Indian families, the Cherokees, who inhabited the
mountainous regions of Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina,
most frequently got as far north as the Ohio. These and the Catawbas
were usually at war with the more northern tribes, especially the Iro-
quois. The tribes east of the Mississippi only have been spoken of.
Those of the gpreat plains were a distinctive family. Chief among them
the Dakotas or Sioux, with whom our history has nothing to do. The
Indian of the plains was as distinct from the Indian of the woods as the
free negro of the North was from the slave of the cottonfields. These
tribal names have been applied locally simply as designations, yet they
live and tell much.

Erie is perhaps the best known and most common of our geographical
names. The tribe that bore this name ranged along the southern border
of that lake, their habitat extending into Northern Pennsylvania. They
were also known as Erigas, and the French called them the Cat tribe.

Old French maps, notably De TLisle's map of Louisiana, 1718; Van
Keulen's map of New France, 1720, and Bellin's map of Louisiana,
1744, mark the region of the Eries, as above noted, the earlier maps
referring to them as the "Nation du Chat," and all three as "Detruite,**
or destroyed, the two latter adding "by the Iroquois." This on the face
of the map in French.

We have some French accounts of the Eries. As early as 1615 they
were visited by Etienne Brule, Champlain's interpreter; at least the
claim is made for him in French histories. The Jesuits, who generally
worked among all the lake tribes, had no mission among the Eries.
Their history is of a shadowy nature and authorities differ, some claim-
ing the Eries were of Algonquin birth ; others suggesting they were
identical with the Shawanese, whose appearances and disappearances
is the one great puzzle in the history of North American Indians. De-
scriptions agree that the Eries were a large tribe. Some assign them
twenty-eight villages with twelve large towns or forts and not less in
number than 12,000. The French accounts say they were fierce warriors
who used poisoned arrows and were long a terror to the neighboring
Iroquois. The nearest approach to the date of their utter defeat by the
Iroquois is 1654, and their history, brief as it is, ends then, except for
the very brief notes on the French maps. Of a truth the Eries vanished.
Charles McKnight, in his lifetime a well known Pittsburgh historian and
newspaper publisher, in his book, "Our Western Border," has a fanciful
account of the wiping out of this tribe, but he is cautious about ascribing



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OUR INDIAN NOMENCLATURE 151

the sources of his information. Samuel G. Drake, one of the best his-
torians of the Indians, has but brief mention of the Eries. He says:
"Among the many tribes or nations wholly or partly destroyed were
the Eries, a powerful tribe on the southern shore of the great lake,
whose name they bore. In 1653 they were entirely extirpated and no
remnant of them has since been heard of in existence." He refers to
Charlevoix, the great historian of "New France," in corroboration.
Parkman, in the opening chapter of "The Conspiracy of Pontiac," gives
much of tribal history. He states that the remnant of the Eries were
incorporated with the conquerors or with other tribes. Also that the
Iroquois traditions obtained by him from a Cayuga chief do not agree
with the Jesuit narratives. Parkman is not satisfied that the Eries were
of the Iroquois family, and thinks it possible they were identical with
the Shawanese. He, too, refers to Charlevoix. The Andastes' ruin came
next in order, but these brave people fought their inexorable foemen for
upwards of twenty years. Their end came in 1672, and their history is
as little known as the Eries.

In similar manner a chapter could be written of each individual com-
memoration in Pittsburgh street names — a most notable instance is
Shingiss, but that will find place in this volume in proper chronological
order with contemporary mention of events. So, too, Guyasutha, though
he has no street commemoration, his name suggests Pontiac, and that
one's history comes in view. Names of localities likewise commem-
orated have their places in our local history; Shamokin, Wyoming,
Sandusky and Juniata in their mention, each evoke thrilling stories, sad
stories of war, desolation and waste of human blood — ^tales of terror
that are forgotten by the dwellers and the wayfarers on the streets that
carry these historic names, merely as names we may take it. Those
responsible for the bestowal of street names have been too often heedless
of the historical phases of such designations. Some cominemoration has
been attempted but many meaningless and absurd terms have been
given. In the laying out of the city in 1784 special attention was given
to historical commemoration. In consequence a few original names
have been retained ; Penn, Liberty, Wood, Smithfield and Grant streets,
for instance, but most of the original names were changed to numerical
ones. This fact will appear in the chapter on the plotting of the town
of Pittsburgh in 1784. To follow further the topic of this chapter one
may have recourse to Heckewelder and study his etymology as far
as applicable to local geographical names. Some annotated extracts from
his book, "Names, etc.," are :*

"Pittsburgh — ^The Delawares called the site of this city after its occu-



2Namcs which the Lenni-Lenape gave to the rivers, streams and localities within
the States of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, with their significations,
prepared for the transactions of the Moravian Historical Society from a manuscript of
John Heckewelder, by Wm. C Reichel (1873), p. 38, et at.



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152 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

pation by the French, Menach-sink, which signifies 'where there is a fence
or an enclosure/ Menachk is an enclosed spot of ground; a place secure
against entrance, hence equivalent to a fortification."

Heckewelder's editor quotes from Zeisberger's Dictionary of the Dela-
ware Dialects: "Me-nachk, a fence; a fort; Me-nach-gink, in the fence;
Me-nach-gak, a fence rail."

The suffix "sink," is common in the Delaware tongue, most familiar
in Minnisink, the name signifying "where there are Minsies," that is,
the home or country of the Minsies. The settlement of the Minnisink
region by the whites prior to the purchase of the Indian claim (ostensibly
accomplished by one and a half day's walk in the autumn of 1737), was
one of the grievances that- alienated the Delawares from the English and
provoked the war of 1755. In his treatise on Delaware names, Heckewel-
der makes this slight mention (See Ibid, p. 33). Conoquenessing is a
well known local name, according to Heckewelder, a corruption from
Gunachquenesink, and meaning "for a long ways straight."

"MoNONGAHELA — Corrupted from Menaungehilla, a word implying high
banks or bluffs breaking off and falling down at places." There are vari-
ous spellings of this word; the form Monongalia used in a county name
in West Virginia, and Mon-a-ga-hail vulgarly. Albert Gallatin tried to
dissect the Delaware form Me-nan-ge-hilla, but could not find the primitive
words.

"YouGHiOGHENY — ^A branch of the Monongahela, from Juh-wiah-hanne,
a stream flowing a contrary direction or in a circuitous course." Among
our common geographical names this bears the distinction of having the
most distorted of any spellings — Yoxiogany, for one instance.*

Allegheny — According to Heckewelder, is a name corrupted from
Alligewi, the ancient tribe that the Delaware traditions declare once dwelt
along the river's bank. The word can have been evolved from the Delaware
term Alligewinink, signifying all the country west of the Allegheny Moun-
tains drained by the tributaries of the Ohio, and their numerous sources.
The Shawanese called this river Palawu-thepiki. The French applied the
appellation La Belle Riviere to this river and subsequently to the Ohio,
regarding the Allegheny as not a tributary, but the main stream of the
great river of the Alligewinink. The Delawares called it Kit-hanne, it
being the same descriptive appellation by which they had designated the
great river from which they took their English tribal name. To the Dela-
wares the term meant that the river was the main stream in the region
of country through which it ran. English traders on the river as early
as 1 73 1 reported that there dwelt on the Kittanning river mostly Dela-
wares, fifty families, one hundred men with their chief, Ky-ken-hammo.
Kit'hanne is a corruption of the Minsi name GichUhanne; the other Dela-
wares called the Delaware river Lenape-wihittuck.



^"Indian Geographical Names;" Mag. West History, Vol. II, No. 3* P- 244.



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OUR INDIAN NOMENCLATURE 153

Beaver river is literally a translation from the Delaware Amockwi-sipu
Amochk-hanne, the beaver stream. Other Indians called it Kaskaskie-
sipu, from that Indian town which has been variously spelled. Weiser's
spelling is given above and it is followed by Post and Howell, the car-
tographer. Zeisberger gives a-mochk as the Delaware word for beaver.
Those of the Delawares, when they took the trail to the West, who did
not locate at Kittanning, located along the Big Beaver and the Mahoning,
and on the latter stream their villages extended to a salt spring near the
site of Youngstown, Ohio. The Wyandots allowed the Delawares to roam
the country as far as Sandusky and south to the Hocking region. Com-
paratively few located at Kittanning, judging from the number of lodge
poles the Delawares set up in the Beaver region. TThree noted chiefs settled
there, Atnockwi or "the Beaver," sometimes referred to as "King Beaver,"
Shingiss and Pisquetomen. These were brothers and all have their place
in Pittsburgh's Indian history. The chief Delaware town on the Ohio
arose at the mouth of the Big Beaver and was called Saucon, Saucunk or
Saukunk, and otherwise spelled. Kalm, the Swedish botanist and traveler,



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 20 of 81)