Edward Manning Ruttenber.

Footprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryEdward Manning RuttenberFootprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 40)
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land called Sagers," and in another, "Between Cattskill and Sager's Kill."
It is also of record that a man known by the surname of Zager located on
the stream prior to 1663, obtained a cession of the lands on the kill from
Kaelcop, an Esopus sachem, and later disappeared without perfecting his title
by patent. Zager is now converted to Sagcr, and in English to Sawyer.
The claim that Zager had a sawmill at the mouth of the stream seems to rest
entirely upon his presumed occupation from the meaning of his name. A
sawmill here, in 1663, would seem to have been a useless venture. In 1750,
ninety years later, one Burregan had a mill at the mouth of the kill. "Burre-
gan" stands for Burhans.

'"To Freudeyachkamik on the Groote River." (Col. Hist. N. Y., xiii,
505.) It was probably the peninsular now known as Flatbush, Glasco, etc.,
at the mouth of the creek. The orthographies of the name are uncertain.
An island south of the mouth of the creek was called Ousicrics. Three or
four miles north is W anion Island, the site of a traditionary battle between
the Mohawks and the Katskill Indians. It is now the northeast boundmark
of Ulster County. Neither of these islands could have been the boundmark
of the lands granted by the Indians. Wanton seems to be from IVanquon
(IVankon, Del.), "Heel" — resembling a human heel in shape — pertuberant.
The letter t in the name is simply an exchange of the surd mutes k and /.
Modern changes have destroyed the original appearance of the island.

Hudson's river on the west. 163

spoken of without name in connection with a district of country
admitted by the Indians to have been "conquered by the sword,"
inchiding the "two captured forts." In the subsequent treaty (1665)
with Governor Nicolls the ceded district is described as "A certain
parcel of land lying and being to the west or southwest of a certain
creek or river called by the name of Kaihanksen, and so up to the
head thereof where the Old Fort was ; and so with a direct line from
thence through the woods and crosse the meadows to the Great Hill
lying to the west or southwest, which Great Hill is to be the true
west or southwest bounds, and the said creek called Kaihanksen the
north or northeast bounds of the said lands." In a treaty deed with
Governor Andros twelve years later (April ly, 1677), the boundary
lines "as they were to he thereafter," are described : "Beginning at
the Rondouyt Kill, thence to a kill called Kabanksnix, thence north
along the hills to a kill called Maggowasinghingh, thence to the
Second Fall, easterly to Freudyachkamick on the Groot River, south
to Rondouyt Kill." In other words the district conceded to have
been "conquered by the sword" lay between the Esopus and the
Rondout on the Hudson, and extended west to the stream called
Kahanksen, thence north to a stream called Maggowasinghingh,
thence north, etc. The only stream that has been certainly identi-
fied as the Maggowasinghingh is the Rondout, where it flows from
the west to its junction with the Sandberg Kill, east of Honk Falls,
and this identification certainly places Kahanksen south of that
stream. And in this connection it may be stated that the conquered
lands did not extend west of the Rondout. The Beekman and the
Beake patents were held primarily by Indian deeds. After the con-
quest the Indians did not sell lands east of the boundary line, but
did sell lands zvest of that line. The deed from Beekman to Lowe
distinctly states that the lands conveyed were "within the bounds
belonging to the Indians." As the lands on the west of the kill
were not conquered and ceded to the Dutch, the Old Fort could
not have been on that side of the stream. In reaching conclusions
respect must be had to Indian laws, treaties, and boundary descrip-
tions. In the records of the town of Rochester, of which town
Wawarsing was a part, is the entry, under date of July 22, 1709,
"Marynus van Aken desired the conveyance of about one hundred
acres of land lying over against the land of Colonel Jacob Rutsen


called Kahankasinck, known as Masseecs," that is the land asked
for by Van Aken took the name of Masseecs from a swamp which
the name means. Colonel Rutsen's land has not been located ; he
held several tracts at different times, and one especially on the west
line of Marbletown known as Rosindale. iWhatever its location it
shows that its name of Kahankasinck was extended to it or from it
from some g"eneral feature. Obviously from the ancient treaty and
deed boundaries the site of the Old Fort has not been ascertained,
nor has the Great Hill been located. 'Presumably both must be
looked for on Shawongunk Mountain.

The fort, as described by Kregier m his "Jo^^^nal of the Second
Esopus War," was a palisaded village and the largest settlement of
the Esopus Indians. He made no reference to a stream or to a
ravine, but did note that he was obliged to pass over swamps, fre-
quent kills, and "divers mountains" that were so steep that it was
necessary to "haul the wagons and cannon up and down with ropes."
His course was "mostly southwest" from Wildw'ijk, and the fort
"about ten miles (Dutch), or from thirty to thirty-five miles Eng-
lish. It was not so far southwest from Wildwijk (Kingston) as
the New Fort by "about four hours," a time measure equal to nine
or ten English miles. The Indians did not defend the fort; they
abandoned it "two days before" the Dutch troops arrived. No par-
ticular description of it has been handed down. Under date of
July 31, 1663, Kregier wrote: "In the morning at dawn of day set
fire to the fort and all the houses, and while they were in full blaze
marched out in good order." And so disappeared forever the his-
toric Indian settlement, not even the name by which it was known
certainly translatable in the absence of knowledge of the topography
of its precise location.^

Magowasinghinck, so written in its earliest form in treaty deed
of 1677 (Col. Hist. N. Y., xiii) as the name of an Indian family,
and also as the name of a certain kill, or river — "Land lying on
both sides of Rondout Kill, or river, and known by the name of
Moggewarsinck," in survey for Henry Beekman, 1685 — "Land on

^ The name has the appearance of derivation from Gahan (Del.), "Shal-
low, low water"'; spoken with the guttural aspirate -gks (Gahaks). and
indefinite formative -an. As a generic it would be applicable to the head-
waters of any small stream, or place of low water, and may be met in several

Hudson's river on the west. 165

this side of Rondout Kill named Ragozvasinck, from the limits of
Frederick Hussay, to a kill that runs in the Ronduyt Kill, or where
a large rock lies in the kill," grant to George Davis, 1677. The
Beekman grant was on both sides of Rondout Creek west ^nd im-
mediately above Honk Falls, where a large rock lying in the kill
was the boundmark to which the name referred and from which it
was extended to the stream and place. The George Davis grant
has not been located, and may never have been taken up. Beekman
sold to Peter Lowe in 1708, and the survey of the latter, in 1722,
described his boundary as running west from "the great fall called
Heneck." In Mr. Lindsay's History of Ulster County it is said
that the grant was half a mile wide on the southeast side of the
stream and a mile wide on the northwest side. Hon. Th. E. Bene-
dict writes me : "The Rondout is eminently a river of rocks. It
rises on the east side of Peekamoose, Table, and Lone mountains,
and west side of Planover Mountain of the Catskills, and flows
through chasms of giant rocks. All the way down there are notable
rocks reared in midstream. The rock above Honk Falls is hogback
shape, a hundred or more feet long. It lies entirely in the stream
and divides it into two swift channels which join together just above
the falls. Here, amid the roar, the swirl and dash of waters break-
ing through rocky barriers, with the rapids at the falls, the Great
Rock was an object to be remembered as a boundmark."

Without knowledge of the locative of the name or of the facts
of record concerning it, the late Dr. D. G. Brinton, replying to in-
quiry, wrote me : "I take Magozv or M o ggew-assing-ink to be
from Macheu (Del.), 'It is great, large'; achsun, 'stone', and ink
locative ; literally 'at the place of the large stone'." The name does
not describe the place where the rock lies. The Davis grant in
terms other than the Indian name located one as lying- "in the kill,"
and the other is described in the survey of the patent to Beekman :
"Land situate, lying and being upon both sides of Rondout Kill
or river, and known by the name of Moggewarsinck, beginning at
a great rock stone in the middle of the river and opposite to a
marked tree on the south side of the river, between two great rock
stones, which is the bounds betwixt it and the purchase of Mr.
William Fisher," et^. ; both records confirm Dr. Brinton's interpre-
tation. As a generic the name may, like Kahanksan, be found in



several places, but the particularly certain place in the Beekman
grant was at the falls called Honneck, now Honk.

Wawarasinke, so written by the surveyor as the name of a tract
of land granted to Anna Beake and her children in 1685, has been
retained as the name of a village situate in part on that tract, about
four miles north of Ellenville. The precise location of the southern
boundmark of the patent was on the west bank of the Rondout,
south of the mouth of Wawarsing Creek, or Vernooy Kill as now
called, which flows to the Rondout in a deep rocky channel, the south-
ern bank forming a very steep, high hill or point. It is claimed
that the Old Fort was on this hill, and that to and from it an Indian
path led east across the Shawongunk Mountain to the New Fort
and is still distinctly marked by the later travel of the pioneers.
That there was an Indian path will not be questioned, nor will it
be questioned that there may have been at least a modem Indian
village on the hill, ibut the Old Fort v/as not there. At the point
where the boundmark of the patent wr.s placed the Rondout turns
at nearly a right angle from an east and west course to nearly
north, winding around a very considerable point or promontory.
The orthography of the name is imperfect. By dialectic exchange
of n and r, it may be read Wa-wa-nuwas-ink, "At a place w^here the
stream winds, bends, twists, or eddies around a point or promon-
tory." This explanation is fully sustained by the topography. Hon.
Th. E. Benedict writes me: "The Rondout at that point (the corner
of the Anna Beake Patent) winds around at almost a right angle.
At the bend is a deep pool with an eddying current, caused by a
rock in the bank below the bend. The bend is caused by a point
of high land. It is a promontory seventy-five feet high." The in-
quiry as to the meaning of the name need not be pursued further.
The frequently quoted interpretation, "Blackbird's Nest," is puerile.
(See Wawayanda.)

Honk, now so written as the name of the falls on Rondout Creek
at Napanock, appears first in Rochester town records, in 1704,
Hoonck, as the name of the stream. In the Lowe Patent (1722),
the reading is : "Beginning by a Great Fall called Honeck." The
Rochester record is probably correct in the designation of the name
as that of the creek, indicating that the original was Hannek (Del.),

Hudson's river on the west. 167

meaning, "A rapid stream," or a stream flowing down descending
slopes." As now written the name means nothing unless read from
Dutdh Honck, ''Home, a standing post or place of beginning," but
that could not have been the derivative for the name was in place
before the falls became the boundmark. The familiar interpreta-
tion: "From Honck (Nar.), 'Goose' — 'Wild-goose Falls,' " is worth-
less. The local word for Goose was Kaak. The falls descend two
hundred feet, of which sixty is in a single cataract — iprimarily a
wild, dashing water-fall.

Lackawack appears of record as the name of a stream in Sulli-
van County, otherwise known as the West Branch of Rondout
Creek, and also as the name of the valley through which it passes.
The valley passes into the town of Wawarsing, Ulster County, where
the name is met in the Beekman and in the Lowe patents, with special
application to the valley above Honk Falls, and is retained as the
name of a modern village. In the Lowe Patent it is written Rag-
awack, the initials L and R exchanged ; in the Hardenberg Patent
it is Laughawake. The German missionary orthography is Lech-
auwak (Zeisb.), "Fork, division, separation," that wliich forks or
divides, or oomes together in the form of a fork ; literally, "The
Fork." Lcchauzvak, "Fork" ; Lechau-hanne, "Fork of a river,"
from which Lackawanna ; Lechau-wiechen, "Fork of a road," from
which Lackawaxen — "abbreviated by the Germans to Lecha, and
by the English to Lehigh." (Reichel.)

Napanoch, on the Rondout below Honk Falls, is probably the
same word that is met in Nepeak, translated by Dr. Trumbull,
*'Water-land, or land overflowed by water." At or near Port Jer-
vis, Napeneck, Napenack, etc. The adjectival is Nepe, Nape,

Wassahawassing, in the Lowe Patent and also in the deed to
Lowe from Henry Beekman, is probably from Awossi-newds-ing
(Del.), "At the point or promontory beyond," or on the other side
of a certain place.

Mopochock — "A certain Great Kil called Mopodhock," in patent
to Joachim Staats, 1688, is said to have been the name of what is
now known as Sandberg Kill, but was not, as that stream was in no
way connected with the Staats Patent.



Naversing is entered on Pownal's map between Rosendale and
Fountain creeks, in the old town of Rochester. The map location
may not be correct. The name is from Newds-ing, (Del.), "At a
point or promontory." The familiar form is Neversink.

Mattachonts, a modern orthography, preserves the name of a
place in the town of Rochester, Ulster County, and not that of an
Indian maiden as locally stated. The boundary description refers
to a creek and to a swamp. The record orthographies are Magtig-
kenighonk and Maghkenighonk, in Calendar of Land Papers, and
"Mattekah-onk Kill," local.

Amangag=arickan, given as the name of an Indian family in
western Ulster (Col. Hist. N. Y., xiii, 505), is probably from
Amangak, "Large," with the related meaning of terrible, and Ana-
kakan, "Rushes," or sharp rushes. Amangak is from Amangi,
"Big, large, powerful, dire," etc., and -ak, animate plural.

Ochmoachk=ing, an unlocated place, is described as "Above the
village called Mombackus, extending from the north bound of the
land of Anna Beake southerly on both sides of the creek or river
to a certain place called Ochmoachking." (Patent to Staats, 1688.)

Shokan, the name of a village on Esopus Creek, in the town of
Olive, has been interpreted as a pronunciation of Schokkan (Dutch),
"To jolt, to shake," etc., by metonymie, "A rough country." The
district is mountainous and a considerable portion of it is too rough
for successful cultivation, but no Hollander ever used the word
Schokken to describe rough land. At or near the village bearing
the name a small creek flows from the west to the Esopus, indi-
cating that Shokan is a corruption of Sohkan, "Outlet or mouth of
a stream." Sohk is an eastern form and an is an indefinite or
diminutive formative. Heckewelder wrote in the Delaware, Saucon,
"The outlet of a small stream into a larger one." Ashokan is a
pronunciation. The same name is met at the mouth of the East
or Paghatagan Branch of the Delaware. Shokan Point is an ele-
vation rising 3100 feet.

Koxing Kil, a stream so called in Rosendale, is of record Cocks-
ing and Cucksink — "A piece of land ; it lyeth almost behind Marble-
town." It is not the name of the stream but of a place that was at

Hudson's river on the west. 169

or near some other place ; probably from Koghksuhksing, "Near a
high place." (See Coxackie.) On map of U. S. Geological Sur-
vey the name is given to the outlet of Minnewaska Lake, which
lies in a basin of hills on Shawongunk Mountain, 1650 feet above
sea level.

Shandaken, the name of a town in Ulster County, is not from
any word meaning "Rapid water," as has been suggested, but is
probably from Schindak, "Hemlock woods" — Schindak-ing, "At the
hemlock woods," or place of hemlocks. The region has been noted
for hemlocks from early times.

Mombackus, accepted as the name of a place in the present town
of Rochester, Ulster County, is first met in 1676, in application to
three grants of land described as "At ye Esopus at ye Mumbackers,
lying at ye Round Doubt River." In a grant to Tjerck Classen
de Witt, in 1685, the orthography is Mombackhouse — "Lying upon
both sides of the Mumbackehous Kill or brook." The stream is
now known as Rochester Creek flowing from a small lake in the
town of Olive. The late John W. Hasbrouck wrote, "Mombakkus
is a Dutch term, literally meaning 'Silent head,' from Mom, 'silent,'
and Bak or Bakkus, 'head.' It originated from the figure of a
man's face cut in a sycamore tree which stood near the confluence
of the Mombakkus and Rondout kills on the patent to Tjerck Clas-
sen de Witt, and was carved, tradition says, to commemorate a
battle fought near the spot," that "for this information" he was
"indebted to the late Dr. Westbrook, w'ho said the stump of the tree
yet stood in his youthful days." Although the evidence of the
existence of a tree marked as described is not entirely positive, the
fact that trees similarly marked were frequently met by Europeans
in the ancient forests gives to its existence reasonable probability.
In 'his treatment of the name Mr. Hasbrouck made several mistakes.
"Place of death" is not in the word, and Dutch Mom or Mum does
not mean "Silent" ; it means "Mask," or covering, and Bak or Bak-
kes, does not mean "head," it is a cant term for "Face, chops, vis-
sage." Mombakkes is plainly a vulgar Dutch word for "Mask."
It describes a grotesque face as seen on a Mascaron in architecture,
or a rude painting. Usually trees marked in the manner described
included other figures commemorative of the deeds of a warrior de-


signed to be honored. Sometimes the paintings were drawn by a
member of the clan or family to which the subject belonged, and
sometimes by the hero himself, who was flattered by the expectation
that his memory would thereby be preserved, or his importance or
prowess impressed upon his associates, or on those of other clans,
and perhaps handed down to later generations.

Wieskottine, located on Van der Donck's map (1656), north
of Esopus Creek and apparently in the territory of the Catskill In-
dians, is a Dutch notation of Wishqiiot-attiny, meaning, literally,
"Walnut Hill." A hill and trees are figured on the map. The
dialect of the Catskill Indians was Mahican or Mohegan. It seems
to have influenced very considerably the adjoining Lenape dialect.
On a map of 1666, the orthography is Wichkotteine, and the loca-
tion placed more immediately north of the stream. The settlement
represented can be no other than that of the ancient Wildwijk, now
Kingston. The name has disappeared of record, as has also Namink
on the Groot Esopus.

Catskill, now so written, primarily Dutch Kat's Kil, presumably
from Katcrdkts, or "Kil of the Katarakts," has come down from a
very early date in Katskil. On Van der Donck's map of 1656 it is
written Kats Kill, but he never wrote Kil with two I's. Older than
Van der Donck's map it evidently was from the frequent reference
to the "Kats Kil Indians" in Fort Orange records. Its origin is,
of course, uncertain. Reasonably and presumably it was a colloquial
form of Katerakts Kil — reasonably, because the falls on that stream
would have naturally attracted the attention of the early Dutch
navigators, as they have attracted the attention of many thousands
of modern travelers. It was the absence of an authoritative explana-
tion that led Judge Benson to inflict upon the innocent streams which
now bear them the distinguishing names of Kat's and Kaiiter's,
and to relate that as catamounts were probably very abundant in the
mountains there and were naturally of the male and female species,
the former called by the Dutch Kauter, or "He cat," and the latter
Kat, "She cat," the streams were called by those names. His hy-
pothesis is absurd, but is firmly believed by most of modern resi-
dents, w'ho do not hesitate to write Kauter, "He cat," on their cards
and on their steamboats, although it is no older than Judge Benson's




application. He might have found a better basis for his conjecture
in the fact that in 1650, on the north side of the Kat's Kil reigned
in royal majesty, Nipapoa, a squaw sachem, while on the other side
Machak-nimano, "The great man of his people," held sway ; that,
as they painted on their cabins a rude figure of a wolf, their totemic
emblem, easily mistaken for a catamount, the name of "He cat"^
was given to one stream, and "She cat" to the other.

Katarakts Kil, as it is met of record — now Judge Benson's Kautert
Kil — is formed by the outlets of two small lakes lying west of the
well-known Mountain House. A little below the lakes the united
streams leap over a ledge and fall 175 feet to a shelf of rock, and
a few rod's below fall 85 feet to a ravine from w'hich they find their
way to the Kat's Kil. Beautiful are the falls and appropriate is
the ancient name "The Kil of the Kataracts." Compare it, please,
with Judge Benson's "He cat kil."

The Kat's Kil Indians have an interesting history. They are
supposed to have been the "loving people" spoken of in Juet's Jour-
nal of Hudson's voyage in 1609. They were Mahicans and always
friendly in their intercourse with the Dutch. In the wars with the
Esopus Indians they took no part. Their hereditary enemies were
the Mohawks who adjoined them on the west side of the moun-
tains, their respective territories following the line of the water-
sheds. They came to be more or less mixed with fugitives from
the eastern provinces, after the overthrow of King Philip. A pali-
saded village they had north of the Esopus, and fierce traditional
battles with the Mohawks. They disappeared gradually by the sale
of their lands, and gave place to the Rip van Winkles of modern

QiTatawichnack and Katawichnack, record forms of the name
given as that of a fall on Kauter's Kill, now so written, supposed
to be the fall near the bridge on the road to High Falls, has been
interpreted "Place of the greatest overflow," from the overflow of
the stream which forms a marsh, which, however, the name de-
scribes as a "Moist, boggy meadow," or boggy land. (See Qua-

Mawignack, Mawichnack, Machawanick, Machwehenoc,

forms of the name given as that of the meadow at the junction of


the Kauter Kil and the Kat's Kil, locally interpreted, "Place where
two streams meet," means, "At the fork of the river." (See

Pasgatikook is another record name of the Katskill, varied in
Pascakook and Pistakook. It is an orthography of Pishgachtiguk
(Moh.), meaning, "Where the river divides, or branches." (See
Schaghticoke.) In patent to John Bronck, 1705, the name is given
to "A small piece of land called Pascak-ook, lying on the north side
of Katskil creek." The locative is claimed by the village of Leeds.

Teteachkie, the name of a tract granted to Francis Salisbury
and described as "A place lying upon Katskill Creek," has not been
located. Teke, from Teke-ne, may stand for "Wood," and -achkie
stand for land — a piece of woodland.

Quachanock, modern Qua jack, the name of a place described
as the west boundary of a tract sold to Jacob Lockerman, does not
mean "Christian corn-lands," as locally interpreted, although the
Indians may have called "the five great plains" the "Christian corn-
land" after their occupation by the purchasers. The original word
was probably Pahquioke, or Pohqu'un-auke {-ock), "Cleared, open-
ed land," or land from which the trees and bushes had been re-
moved to fit it for cultivation.

Wachachkeek, of record as the name of the first of "five great
flats, with the woodland around them," wMdi were included in the
Catskill Patent of 35,000 acres, is otherwise written Machachkeek.
It is described as "lying on both sides of Catskil Creek," and is
claimed to be known as a place west of the village of Leeds. Dr.
O'Callaghan interpreted the name from Wachcu, "hill," and -keag,

Online LibraryEdward Manning RuttenberFootprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 40)