Saturday, August 29, 2009

River Cleanup event scheduled

The first ever Hatchie River Cleanup event is scheduled for September 19, 2009.

Sponsored by the Tennessee Scenic River Association's Adopt-A-River program and funded by a grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the first ever clean up is scheduled to begin at 7:00 am on Saturday September 19 at the TWRA river access at the Highway 54 bridge between Tipton and Haywood Counties.

Participants can bring their own boat or ride along with any of the participants. There will also be plenty of opportunities for land side clean up operations. The event will start at 7:00 Saturday September 19 at the Highway 54 bridge.

If you want to participate, it will be fine to just show up, but the handy thing to do would be to call me ahead of time at 901-603-0127.

The event will culminate at the TWRA river access at the Highway 51 bridge by mid afternoon. Lunch will be available at the Highway 51 ramp.

You can learn more about this event at the TSRA website click on the Conservation link on the left. While there, you can read more about the TSRA and the Adopt-A-River program. You can join TSRA at this event if you care to but it will not be necessary. In fact, you can click on any of the convenient links to the right side of this screen.

Come back and check my blog often for event updates and specific information prior to the event.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What's in a name??

I have spent all my life hearing and reading that the word "HATCHIE" is a Native American word meaning “river”. This is aledgedly how the Hatchie River got its name. I always thought that was pretty cool.

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a bumper sticker. My friend lives in Brownsville Tennessee. The sticker is popular among the locals in Brownsville and was created by one of their own. The sticker is in the obvious shape of a snapping turtle. Scrawled creatively across its back are the words “LOVE HATCHIE RIVER”. I had a fit over the bumper sticker and just had to have one, so my friend Joe gave me one.

As my curiosity about the Hatchie River has grown over the years, I decided it would be cool to know how to express my new favorite bumper sticker in the Chickasaw language; the language of those first to love this river. Now that would be cool!

There seemed to be one small problem. The word "HATCHIE" is not a Native American word! I searched all the documents and internet sources I could find. I tore through genealogy departments of the public libraries in Tipton County, Haywood County and finally Madison County searching for documents that might lead me to understand this mystery; the mystery of the origin of the name of the Hatchie River.

It was in Madison Counties Public Library genealogy department that I found a breakthrough. It came in the form of a book called:

“A Chickasaw Dictionary compiled by Jesse Humes and Vinnie May (James) Humes ~ 1973 Chickasaw Nation”.

This volume became the Rosetta Stone for me. In pouring over web sites and map archives looking for a clue among different names given to the river by early explorers, a pattern emerged. Armed with these pieces of the puzzle, I have developed this theory.

1) Many places in our country and around the world use derivatives of original names assigned from earlier explorers of different nationalities; eg. Acadia was once the French Acadie for example.
2) The name of the river has changed through the years: In 1813, just prior to the Jackson Purchase of 1818, (when the Chickasaw Indians ceded the land of West Tennessee to the United States) the name appears on a map as "HATCHY River" (

In 1823 the name of the river picks up an unexpected word in its title and changes its spelling as it appears on a map by B. T. Welch and published by Fielding Lucas, Jr. of Baltimore; "BIG HATCHEE River".

The three word name continues to be used until at least 1899 where it appears again with the same spelling in the eighteenth annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, in which the title remained "BIG HATCHEE River".

In the current day and time the title has dropped the adjective “BIG” and has undergone another revision in its spelling. The title is now simply, "HATCHIE River".

3) The Chickasaw word that is used to refer to a river, stream or creek is "BOKOSHI". That’s fine, but what is most interesting is the pronunciation of the word. It is pronounced BOHK – OSH – E. Here is where I have made the leap. Without using too much imagination one can see that this pronunciation sounds a lot like BIG HATCHEE.

My conclusion: the 21st Century name “HATCHIE” is a derivative of the 18th Century English “BIG HATCHIE” which in turn could be a derivative of the centuries old “BOKOSHI”.

Again, the word "HATCHIE" is not a Native American word meaning “river”. The word does not appear anywhere in the Muskoegean language group. However, the similar sounding word BOKOSHI, heard, imitated and mutilated by early trappers, explorers and settlers does, in fact, mean...RIVER!