Exploring origins of 'Hoosac,' Hoosic'
To the editor:
Lauren Stevens understandably is confused by the many variant spellings for the name Hoosick, Hoosac, Hossack, etc. (Eagle op-ed, Sept. 21). Grace Niles wrote a 584-word book on "The Hoosac Valley" in 1912 but it is poorly researched. Not once does she offer a meaning for the word. The earliest spelling I have seen is in the 1688 patent at the Albany County Hall of Records — "Hossack." This gives us a clue as to the original pronunciation.
Written about 1846 by John C. Adams, a Mohican fluent in his language, is this explanation: "The mountain now called Hoosuck was evidently so named from the Indian word Hoo-thuk, which means a kettle as that mountain represents a large caldron turned bottom upwards." R.A. Douglas-Lithgow and John C.Huden came close with "mountain rock."
The Mohican word for "pot" or "kettle" was "hos," the Delawares used "hoos," and the Munsees used "hoosus." The endings "ac," "uck," "ick", etc. are locating suffixes meaning "place of" in many Algonquian languages. Their spelling is quite arbitrary and has no influence on the core meaning. Therefore, both Hoosac and Hoosic are correct, meaning "place of the kettle."
Lion G. Miles Stockbridge