Where does the name Waxahatchee come from?

Waxahatchee is a Brooklyn-based music project headed by Katie Crutchfield. The music press tell us that Waxahatchee is the name of a creek in Alabama. In January 2011 Crutchfield “was living at her parents’ house on Waxahatchee Creek, nursing the bruises of a few bad relationships and wondering what to do with her adulthood.” A […]

How Opa-locka got its name

Opa-locka is a small city in the Miami metropolitan area of south Florida. Its unusal name is supposed to have an Indian or “Native American” origin. But there is no documentation for the name before about 1926. That’s when the aviator Glenn Curtiss founded the city, during the 1920s craze for Florida real estate.1 When […]

Sylacauga, or the Buzzard Roost

Comrade Kevin mentioned (here) that the name Sylacauga (a city in Alabama) is often translated as “Buzzard Roost.” That reminded me of a historical tradition in Atlanta that the city occupies the site of “Indian towns” called Buzzard Roost and Standing Peachtree. For now I’ll ignore Standing Peachtree and concentrate on Buzzard Roost.1 A historical […]

Tobesofkee, a Creek Indian place name in Georgia

As a boy I camped out a time or two at Lake Tobesofkee Recreation Area, a nice spot beside a reservoir near Macon, Georgia. The four-syllable name [to-bə-SAF-ki] is a corrupt form of something in the Muskogee (Creek Indian) language. Recently I’ve done some reading on what the original Muskogee name might have been. (The […]

On Indian place names

I’ve been thinking lately about the petty crimes we Americans have performed on place names that come from Indian languages. There are a ton of them, from Massachusetts to Seattle, and from Alabama to Wyoming. Confronted with these mysterious names (which we white folks made even more mysterious by corrupt pronunciation), some historians and other […]