Florida Place-Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names

By Trimble, Carolyn | Southeastern Archaeology, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Florida Place-Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names


Trimble, Carolyn, Southeastern Archaeology


Florida Place-Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names WIILIAM A. READ Introduction by Patricia Riles Wickman. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2004. xviii, 83 pp. $16.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8173-5071-3.

Florida Place-Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names was written by William A. Read in 1934. The forward, written in 2003 by Patricia Riles Wickman, presents new information on Read's academic and intellectual background. Read was head of the English Department at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and was among the first scholars to establish the study of American Indian languages, particularly Indian place names. Read never traveled to Florida during his research but corresponded with postmasters all over the state, as well as inhabitants who were rich with local knowledge. Florida PlaceNames became the authoritative source for Maskoki, or Muscogee, language and family place names in Florida and has influenced historical, anthropological, and linguistic study for the past 77 years. Read also wrote other publications on this subject in the broader region of the southeastern United States.

Florida Place-Names is a compendium of geographic areas, landscapes, bodies of water, towns, hamlets, and villages in Florida as of the time it was written. Read translated the meaning of the names where possible and listed alternative spellings and names. The entries include short anecdotes about particular locations. Many of the entries include references to maps which have place names on them, although no maps are included within the book itself.

The book is divided into five sections: "Names from the Florida Dialects," "Florida Place Names of Dubious and Unknown Origin," "Imported Names," "Sundry Names on Taylor's War Map," and "Names of Various Indian Chiefs." The majority of the places listed in the book are Seminole-Creek in origin, but some are imports from other Indian nations listed throughout the book, such as Sioux, Iroquois, Hitchiti, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Algonquian, and Cherokee. Other listed names have Spanish and French influence originating in other states, as well as Canada and South America.

Wickman suggests that the fact that Read never traveled to Florida is a mixed blessing. Corresponding with informants from a distance perhaps allowed Read to collect information he might not have otherwise received. However, the absence of local interaction results in both a lack of pronunciation guides and a richer substance overall.

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