Crawford County, Pennsylvania


French Creek

From George P. Donehoo, Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania (1928; rptr. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, 1995), 62 [contributed by Dennis R. Davis]:
The headwaters of this stream are in Chautauqua County, New York, west of Chautauqua Lake, in Erie Co., Pa., at the town of Waterford. The creek runs south, through Cambridge Springs and Meadville and enters the Allegheny River at Franklin, Venango County. This historic stream has been known by several names. Dr. Eaton, in his history of Venango County (Egle's History of Penna., 1118) says that the Indians seem to have known it as To-ra-da-koin. By the English as Venango River. I have been unable to find any authority for the name of To-ra-da-koin. The Indian name was Onenge, an Otter, which has been corrupted into Venango. On the map of Lewis Evans, 1755, the name, which is blurred, is Toranadachkoa. Major Denny in his report toSecretary of War, Timothy Pickering, says, "It was formerly called Venango Creek, or rather Innan-ga-eh, and it is a beautiful, transparent, and rapid stream" (Frontier Forts, II. 584, 1896). Pownall's map of 1776, which is copied from Evans map, gives the form Toranedachkoa. The French expedition, under Celoron de Bienville, passed the mouth of the creek on Aug. 3, 1749. He says in his journal, "I continued my route as far as the village at the Riveraux Boeufs, which is only nine or ten cabins." On the map of Father Bonnecamp, who was with Celoron, the creek is noted as, R. aux Boeufs. The creek is given this name in all of the French documents. George Washington, in his journal of 1753, calls the creek "French Creek" (see Washington's Journal of 1753, Olden Time, I, 10; also in Sparks Life of Washington ). This name is given on Lewis Evans map of 1755, and upon all of the later maps. Washington, no doubt, gave the name to the creek because the French Forts had been built upon it, and because he did not know the name of the stream. Christopher Gist, who was with him, does not mention the name of the creek, either in his journal nor upon his map, by any other name than that given to it by Washington.