Reply To: Origins of the Word "Mosholu"

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Peter Ostrander

Few additional thoughts.   I think Nick’s research shows strong proof that it was a cartographer’s error or typo that eventually gave us Mosholu. But  there is still the mystery of the meaning of Mosholu or Muscoota.  Robert Bolton’s 1848 – ‘smooth stones’, or Grumet’s name of an India Chief.  There is also historican Reginal Pelham Bolton, a nephew of Robert once wrote it was derived from the word mosquitoes. But he later wrote it was likely smooth stones.

An East Harlem history site ( states  ” All the area north of what is now 59th Street (on Manhattan) was called “Muscoota” by the Manhattan Indians. Muscoota means “flat place”. This flat place was good for growing food and this is why many of the Manhattan Indians lived in this part of Manhattan.”   This  actually describes the Van Cortlandt flats and parade grounds pretty well even today.

Search for Munsee words this one comes very close  máske·kw  (linguistic) máskeekw (practical pronunciation)  and (meaning) swamp, pond.  A swampy area would also work for today’s TIbbetts brook in today Van Cortlandt park or back in the past,  the Muscoota brook.

Given the fact that we will never have a definitive  translation or meaning. With nothing written down and  native spoken words were generally literal translations written down by Europeans from what they heard spoken.  Muscoota might have a few meaning that would describe this area in today’s Van Cortlandt park –  ‘flat place”  or  ‘swampy / pond’ area both seem to describe the area in Van Cortlandt Park and down through the area of old historic Kingsbridge.