The Possibilities

Many human being living in your city never ever question the origin of your city’s name. The city that Buffalo, in Western brand-new York, has actually a couple of mysterious and also interesting theories about where the name “Buffalo” comes from. The is claimed that the city the Buffalo gained its surname from the creek that it is constructed around. However the inquiry is then, why was the creek called Buffalo? how did the creek become known as Buffalo Creek? among these theory is a basic folktale speculated to come indigenous oral heritages of native Americans. One more discussed room words provided by the French to define the creek. The last opportunity for the surname of Buffalo is argued by the yes, really animal, the bison, roaming the components of Western brand-new York. The one thing that is common and also is not questioned upon is who the initial settlers that the Niagara Frontier were. The is additionally known that the european explorers were who re-discovered the Niagara Frontier. To understand the different theories surrounding the surname “Buffalo”, one needs to look ago in background to prior to the city had actually been founded.

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Seneca and also Erie

Before the europe had uncovered the new World, it was occupied by the native peoples that the Americas. Later on to it is in named indigenous Americans, there were several various tribes, nations, and also chiefdoms the had control of numerous different locations in new York. The main Indian country that had manage in the currently Buffalo area to be the Neuter country (named by French explorers). The Erie country (named ~ the ‘long-tail’ mountain lion) managed the area south of Lake Erie and also spots reaching up right into the Buffalo area. The other nation that reached right into the Buffalo area to be the Seneca nation. Native American traditions and stories room handed under orally, generally from the many eldest or someone preferred to remember this tales. One tale in specific describes just how the Buffalo Creek obtained its name.


The image over shows the native America nations within the an excellent lakes an ar around Buffalo.

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Native American Legend

In 1795 a Buffalo resident, Cornelius Winney, said, "He assigned the factor for this sobriquet the the old Indian was a large, square framed man, with stooped shoulders and also a large bushy head i m sorry ... Made him resemble a Buffalo." This quote is introduce to an old Seneca Indian that lived along the creek. This old Seneca to be a member that the wolf clan and was called "De-gi-yah-goh," or "Buffalo". This name can be supported due to the fact that Native americans would usually name us after various animals or herbal occurrences. Aboriginal Americans would likewise name places based upon what it looked like, the objective it served, or the points that were roughly it. For example, Chic ta-wau-ga, now spelled Cheektowaga to be Jiik do-waah geh "place that the crab-apple". De-gi-yah-goh built a basswood bark cabin by the creek and fished there. He ended up being known as the chef fisherman for the Seneca. Countless then began to speak to the creek “Buffalo’s Creek”. In the aboriginal American language, this was "Tick-e-ack-gon- ga-ha-un-da" (Buffalo society 367). This story, mutual by both natives and non-natives is thought to what provided the creek and eventually the city, the surname of Buffalo. This Seneca, De-gi-yah-goh, must have actually been quite memorable and also charismatic to be remembered in together a fashion. There are plenty of other accounts regarding this man being claimed to resemble a buffalo. Because this theory is hard to retrace because of it being near purely oral tradition, that is tough to deduce whether this is the specific reason why the creek gained the surname Buffalo.

Joseph Hodge

The story of Joseph Hodge and also his relationship to Buffalo Creek is often overlooked. Hodge was a slave prior to the Revolutionary War and was recorded by the Seneca Indians during the war. That was at some point released in 1784 and also married a Seneca woman. Hodge and also his new wife relocated to the Buffalo Creek an ar sometime prior to 1792. Of the number of non-native inhabitants of Buffalo Creek, some historians claim that it was Joseph Hodge, otherwise well-known as "Black Joe" or "Joe Hodges", receives the difference of gift the first non-native settler in Buffalo Creek. Unfortunately, there is no document of facility prior come 1796 that have the right to be referenced to plainly indicate i m sorry non-native very first inhabited the Buffalo Creek area. During Hodge's bondage by the Seneca, the learned their language and became an professional interpreter because that the inhabitants, natives, and tradesmen that traveled v Buffalo Creek. It is clear the Hodge was an important member the the early settlement, but details that his life are fairly scarce as there is not lot written about him (Mingus 15).

French origin Theory

The next theory disputed is that the creek obtained its surname from French origins. “But so imperfect was their expertise of the Indian language, the they had formed really imperfect ideas of their magnitude, and many various other things, concerning them, connected by the Indians; and it is no surprising the in attempting come describe, what nobody had ever before attempted come do prior to in writing, that gross errors should have crept right into the description.” Many believe that the French mispronounced the Indian language due to the fact that they were not fluent in it. However, the names because that Buffalo execute not resemble remotely the sound of words Buffalo. The natives differed on words buffalo transparent the nations, yet none resemble the pronunciation. The Tuscarora pronounce the English ax buffalo as: Ne-o-thro-ra, The Cayuga word for buffalo was De-o-tro-weh, and the Oneida word because that buffalo to be De-ose-lole. Other feasible words for buffalo are: "Tick-e-ack-gou-ga", "De-gi-yah-go", and also Do-syo-wa or Do-sho-weh (Buffalo society 367).


It is an ext likely the it to be a French name the may have been carried over to English there is no translation. As soon as the French uncovered the creek, it was choose nothing the explorers had actually seen before. The French to be so intrigued through the creek that they called it the French name: beau fleuve, an interpretation beautiful river, or boeuf a leau, an interpretation oxen or livestock at the water. Over there is doubt about this theory because, again, over there is no concrete evidence and is based specifically on speculation that the words were misinterpreted. However, numerous cities that emerged throughout this time were named after forts the were developed close-by. That was common practice to carry out this. Buffalo could have very well obtained its name from the French Fort, Ft. Le Boeuf as shown on the map above.

Many researcher argue the French word concept of Buffalo’s surname and suggest to william Ketchum's 1863 "The name of Buffalo" resolve to the Buffalo Historical society as evidence. In his resolve there is no cite of the French words. Those in favor of the French word theory indicate that due to the fact that something was no talked around in one man’s account walk not median that it can not have actually happened. Wilhelm Ketchum walk lead right into the last theory discussed about how Buffalo Creek received its name.


Buffalo in Buffalo?

This following theory is quite possibly the most disputed upon. The theory around whether the bison had roamed the soil of Western new York. Books and personal accounts, varying from the pre-recorded history of Western new York to also today, discuss the object of whether bison (buffalo) were in fact there. Older texts with personal responses imply that there were no Buffalo in the area.


Most the these an individual responses to be from the 1820’s and later, which would certainly be well beyond the time of very first discovery that Buffalo Creek. Rather refute these an individual responses with proof of bison skeleton being found in nearby areas (Buffalo Fate 43-44). One more claim is from father Louis Hennipin, who contained an unmistakable drawing and description that a bison in a wooded setup from his 1698 book "A brand-new Discovery that a huge Country In America", relenten his travels with the area, throughout which his party discovered surrounding Niagara drops (Hennipin 146). Aboriginal American oral heritages talk about the bison, yet the area of where they originated room unclear. The is told, and also can it is in backed that the buffalo had places wherein they were watched in the Ohio valley. It would certainly not it is in unheard of because that the buffalo to move northward in find of an ext food for your grazing as the buffalo were not checked out to have exact migration patterns.

Multiple Reasons?

Perhaps the Buffalo Creek obtained its called from every one of the an unified factors. It may be a little farfetched come think, yet by slim coincidence that the French word because that ox of the water occurred to it is in Boeuf a Leau. Would it be absurd to think that the French had actually seen moving buffalo coming northward indigenous the Ohio valley at the moment they to be exploring? it would ago the claim of the Seneca fisher that resembled the buffalo and would only reinforce the French dubbing the Boeuf a Leau, a indigenous which resembles our joint of Buffalo today. Believing the the an unified effect of all of these situations coming with each other to create the surname of Buffalo would certainly not be so difficult to believe. Over there needn’t be one single explanation for exactly how something obtained its name. This can be the finest reason for exactly how Buffalo Creek acquired its name.


An Old Frontier that France. N.p.: Bigelow Brothers, 1917. Print

Bulletin the the Buffalo society of natural Sciences. Buffalo: certain of Rdneckc Sc Zocb, 1908. Print

Ingersoll, Ernest. "The Buffalo and His Fate." The famous Science Monthly Summer 1880: 40-47. Print.

Ketchum, William. AN AUTHENTIC and also COMPREHENSIVE background OF BUFFALO. Vol. I and also II. Buffalo: Rockwell, Baker & Hill, Printers, 1864. Print

Smith, H. Perry. History of Buffalo and Erie County. Vol. I. Syracuse: D. Mason and, 1884. Print.

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Mingus, N.B. The do of America: Buffalo: great neighbors, an excellent architecture. 2003. Print