A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 27, 2015
Buffalo (city name etymology)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wiktionary: Buffalo
Etymology
Probably from buffalo (Bison bison), since both cities are in regions that had wild herds at the time the names originated. Buffalo, New York was named after the Buffalo River, which an alternative etymology says is from French beau ‎(“beautiful”) fleuve ‎(“river”), but the more likely explanation is that it was named for the animal.
Proper noun
Buffalo

1. A city in New York State, very near Niagara Falls.
2. A city in Wyoming.

Wikipedia: Buffalo, NY
Buffalo (/ˈbʌfəloʊ/) is a city in Western New York and the seat of Erie County, located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara River. As of 2014, Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state after New York City with 258,703 residents, and the metropolitan area is the 45th largest in the United States.

Buffalo experienced significant growth in the 19th and 20th centuries as a direct result of the Erie Canal, railroads and Lake Erie, providing an abundance of fresh water and an ample trade route to the Midwestern United States, while grooming its economy for the grain, steel and automobile industries during the 20th century. Since experiencing an economic downturn in the latter half of the 20th century, Buffalo’s economy has transitioned to sectors that include financial services, technology, biomedical and education.

Residents of Buffalo are called “Buffalonians”. Nicknames for the city of Buffalo include “The Queen City”, “The Nickel City”, “The City of Good Neighbors”, and less commonly, the “City of Light”.

Etymology
The city of Buffalo received its name from a nearby creek called Buffalo Creek. Captain John Montresor makes reference to ‘Buffalo Creek’ in his journal of 1764, which may be the earliest recorded reference using the current spelling of the name. There are several theories regarding how Buffalo Creek received its name. While it is possible that Buffalo Creek’s name originated from French fur traders and Native Americans calling the creek Beau Fleuve (French for “Beautiful River"), it is also possible that Buffalo Creek was named for the American bison, whose historical range may have extended into Western New York.

Founders Online
Commission from Robert Dinwiddie, 30 October 1753
(...)
NOTES
1. The Ohio Company of Virginia was formed in 1747 under the leadership of Thomas Lee, to engage in land speculation and Indian trade in the upper Ohio Valley. The early members were primarily from Virginia’s Northern Neck, and the company quickly aroused the antagonism and suspicions not only of land speculators in neighboring colonies but also of many influential Virginians. Gov. William Gooch and the Virginia Executive Council received unfavorably the company’s first petition, 20 Oct. 1747, and the company’s leaders turned to direct negotiations with the Privy Council in London (P.R.O., C.O. 5/1333, f. 155). On 11 Jan. 1749 John Hanbury, a prominent London merchant and member of the Ohio Company, presented a petition on the company’s behalf to the Privy Council for a grant of 200,000 acres. In return the company would use its influence to promote the fur trade and open the way for a lucrative British trade with the Indians. In addition the members agreed to settle 100 families on the grant and provide for their support and protection (P.R.O., C.O. 5/1327, ff. 26–28). In Mar. 1749 the Privy Council recommended in favor of the grant and instructed Governor Gooch to transfer to the company 200,000 acres of land “lying betwixt Ramanettos and Buffalo’s Creek on the South Side of the River Alligane otherwise the Ohio, and betwixt the two Creeks and the Yellow Creek on the North Side of the River, to the westward of the great Mountains within the Colony of Virginia.”

Founders Online
To George Washington from William Fairfax, 10 July 1754
(...)
Capt. Mackay borrowd of G. Fx, but carried away your Draft of the Ohio, having Buffaloe Creek, the Forks of Monongelah, Youagenah &c. therein delineated;3 And I want much to travel with You,

22 August 1763, The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (Boston, MA), pg. 1, col. 2:
A Party of Volunteers, between Twenty and Thirty went to the farther Side of the Valley, next to the Tuscarora Mountain, to see what Appearance there might be of Indians, as it was thought they would most probably be there, if any where in the Settlement, to search for, and bury, the dead at Buffaloe Creek; ...
(Dated July 30, 1763, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania.—ed.)

Founders Online
[Diary entry: 7 November 1770]
Wednesday 7th. We set out < > ½ an hour after Seven and af< >sing the Botton through which < > Creek with the fallen Timber at the Mouth Runs & which I believe is calld Buffalo Creek, we came to a range of Hills for a Mile or more in length upon the River (East side) then comes in the Bottom, opposite to wch. the Creek below wch. we lodgd at with the Indians the 28th.

Google Books
Guy Johnson Letters and Return of Indians Gone to Buffaloe Creek
By Guy Johnson and Sir Frederick Haldimand
1780
Letters, 1 June and 24 Aug. 1780, to General Haldimand, regarding the service of Alexander McKee, the arrival of Oneida at Niagara, and the success of various divisions dealing with the rebels on the frontiers. Includes a return of Indians of Colonel Guy Johnson’s department, gone to plant at Buffaloe Creek, and the distribution of corn and hoes to those Indians, 13 May 1781.

18 April 1781, Pennsylvania Journal, and the Weekly Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 3, col. 1:
Extract of a letter dated at General Greene’s head quarters, Col. Ramsay’s, Deep River, March 30, 1781.
“I wrote to you on the 23rd inst. from Buffaloe Creek, since which we have been in pursuit of the enemy, with a determination to bring them to action again.

Founders Online
To James Madison from Richard Henry Lee, 20 November 1784
[Enclosure]
[22 October 1784]
Articles of a Treaty concluded at Fort Stanwix on the 22d. day of October 1784 between Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee Commissioners plenepotentiary from the United States in Congress Assembled on the one part and the Sachems and Warriors of the Six Nations on the other part.

The United States of America give peace to the Senecas, Mohawks, Onondagas, & Cayugas, and receive them into their protection upon the following conditions.
(...)
Art. 3d. A line shall be drawn, beginning at the mouth of a creek about four miles east of Niagara called Oyonwayea or Johnsons landing place upon the Lake named by the Indians Oswego, and by us Ontario. From thence Southerly in a direction always four miles east of the Carrying path between Lake Erie and Ontario to the mouth of Tehoseroron or Buffaloe Creek on Lake Erie.

27 October 1785, Charleston (SC) Evening Gazette, pg. 2, col. 1:
The following are copies of two treaties entered in to by the Commissioners of the United States, with the Sachems and Warriors of the Six Nations of Indians at Fort Stanwix, on the 24th of October, 1784; and of the Wyandor, Delaware, Chippewa and Ottawa Indians, at Fort M’Intosh, the 21st January 1785.
(...)
Art. 3. A line shall be drawn, beginning at the mouth of a creek about four miles east of Niagara, called Oyenwayca or Johnson’s landing place, upon the lake named by the Indians Oswego, and by us Ontario, from thence southerly in a direction always four miles east of the carrying path, between lake Erie and Ontario, to the mouth of the Tohoseroron (Tehoseroron—ed.) or Buffaloe creek on lake Erie, thence south to the north boundary of the state of Pennsylvania, ...

Google Books
August 1790, The European Magazine, and London Review, pg. 94:
The following EXTRACTS from the JOURNAL of the Rev. Mr. KIRKLAND, MISSIONARY to the SIX INDIAN NATIONS, are transmitted to you for insertion in your MAGAZINE, by A CONSTANT READER.
JUNE 23, 1788.
Pg. 96, col. 1:
We left the path leading to Niagara on our right, and went a course nearly south-west for Buffaloe Creek.

Google Books
A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family,
Who were surprised by the Indians, and taken from their farms, on the frontiers of Pennsylvania.
In the Spring, 1780.

By William Walton
London: Reprinted and sold by James Phillips
1790
Pp. 78-79:
From Niagara fort they went about eighteen miles above the Falls to fort Erie, a garrison of the English, and then continued their journey about four miles further up Buffalo creek, and pitched their tent.

Google Books
The Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination, in North-America:
To the First of November, 1790

By John Asplund
Southampton County, Vir.
1791
Pg. 41:
State of SOUTH-CAROLINA.
Abbeville (County—ed.)
Buffalow Creek (Church—ed.)

Google Books
The American Geography:
Or, a View of the Present Situation of the United States of America (Third Edition)

By Jedidiah Morse
Boston, MA: Printed for John Jones
1792
Pg. 273:
They have two towns, of sixty or seventy souls each, on French Creek, in Pennsylvania; and another town on Buffaloe Creek, attached to the British; and two small towns on Allegany river, attached to the Americans.

14 August 1792, The Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 3, col. 2:
NEW-YORK, August 12.
(...)
“Fourteen warriors belonging to the Six Nations, have gone from Buffaloe Creek, which lies opposite Fort Erie, on the American side, to join the Shawanoes at the Miami country.”

Founders Online
To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 23 August 1792
(...)
What influence our Indian Agents may have at it, remains to be known. Hendricks left Buffaloe Creek between the 18th. and 20th. of June, accompanied by two or three of the Six Nations; some of the Chiefs of those Nations were to follow in a few days—only waiting, it was said, for the Caughnawaga Indians from Canada.

Google Books
The American Gazetteer:
Exhibiting, in Alphabetical Order, a Much More Full Account...

By Jedidiah Morse
Boston, MA: S. Hall and Thomas & Andrews
1797
Pg. ?:
BUFFALOE Creek, in New-York, is a water of Niagara R., from the E. into which it empties, near its mouth, opposite Lake Erie. The Seneca Indians have a town 5 miles from its mouth, which is able to furnish 80 warriors. N. lat. 42. 52.

Google Books
Travels Through the States of North America: And the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada,
During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. (Second Edition)

Volume 2
By Isaac Weld
London: Printed for John Stockdale
1799
Pg. 144:
The Seneka is one of six nations which formerly bore the general name of the Iroquois Indians. Their principal village is situated on Buffalo Creek, which falls into the eastern extremity of Lake Erie, on the New York shore.

18 June 1897, Norwalk (OH) Daily Reflector, pg. pg. 3, col. 6:
BEAU-FLEUVE.
A correspondent of the National Advertiser thus explains the origin of the name of the city of Buffalo:

I saw in a late issue of your valuable journal a handsome page advertisement of the Buffalo Times, adorned with the picture of a buffalo. I was reminded that the great city on Lake Erie does not owe its name to the gallant beast depleted by your artist. A band of French explorers, seeing Niagara for the first time, exclaimed Quel beau fleuve! The little settlement near was christened Beau-fleuve (Fair River), and Saxon tongues twisted the name into Buffalo. I make no charge for this bit of information.

21 March 1963, Springfield (MA) Union, pg. 36, col. 2:
NAME
BUFFALO, N. Y. (UPI)—The American bison never roamed near this city, but it is believed the name of the community comes from a description of the Niagara River as “beau fleuve,” which was pronounced “boof-flo” by local Indians.

History of Buffalo
Origin of the name ‘Buffalo’
Buffalo, NY
By Nancy Blumenstalk Mingus
Excerpts from
Buffalo: Good Neighborts, Great Architecture, by Nancy Blumenstalk Mingus. Pub. by Arcadia Publishing 2003, pp. 9-11
(...)
Indian named Buffalo theory: If there is an Indian connection, it is more likely related to the next theory, whichpostulates that an Indian named Buffalo lived on the creek, prompting the early non-natives to call the stream “Buffalo’s Creek.” This Seneca was said to have been a member of the Wolf clan and called “De-gi-yah-goh,” or “Buffalo” by his tribe. He built a basswood bark cabin by the creek and fished there and became known as the chief fisherman for the Seneca.

Captain Daniel Dobbins, in recounting a 1795 conversation with Buffalo resident Cornelius Winney, says this, “He assigned the reason for this sobriquet that the old Indian was a large, square framed man, with stooped shoulders and a large bushy head which ... made him resemble a Buffalo.”

This could very well be the source of the name, since Indians did use animal names for themselves and not usually their places. It would also explain how the name gotpassed down among both the native and non-native settlers.

French words theory: Although several theories involve Indian names, there are an equal number thatrevolve around the early French explorers. These French-based theories include that the name comes from the French words beau fleuve, meaning beautiful river, or boeuf a leau, meaning oxen or cattle at the water. Either of these are certainly possible, though not likely, only because these theories don’t surface in discussions until much later in the city’s history. The theories mentioned earlier have been circulating as early as1825, while the two above were not mentioned in William Ketchum’s 1863 “The Name of Buffalo” address to the Buffalo Historical Society. This presumably means they hadn’t surfaced by then or had been dismissed as unlikely.

WGRZ NBC Channel 2 (Buffalo, NY)
Petition to change Buffalo’s name
2:22 p.m. EST March 6, 2015
BUFFALO, NY - A petition filed on change.org calls on the City of Buffalo to change its name.

The petitioner, identified in the post as Mark Beasley, a proclaimed member of the Navajo Nation, says the name “Buffalo” is, “offensive and racist.”

Beasley argues that the name promotes genocidal imagery towards Native Americans because American Bison, also known as buffalo, were slaughtered in order to move Natives off the land.

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesNew York State • Sunday, September 27, 2015 • Permalink