A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 20, 2016
Idaho: Idaho (state name etymology)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Idaho
Idaho (/ˈaɪdəhoʊ/) is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. Idaho is the 14th largest, the 39th most populous, and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 United States. The state’s largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called “Idahoans”. Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state.
(...)
Etymology
The exact origin of the name remains a mystery. In the early 1860s, when the United States Congress was considering organizing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name “Idaho”, which he claimed was derived from a Shoshone language term meaning “the sun comes from the mountains” or “gem of the mountains”. Willing later claimed that he had simply invented the name. Congress ultimately decided to name the area Colorado Territory when it was created in February 1861. Thinking they would get a jump on the name, locals named a community in Colorado “Idaho Springs”.

However, the name “Idaho” did not fall into obscurity. The same year Congress created Colorado Territory, a county called Idaho County was created in eastern Washington Territory. The county was named after a steamship named Idaho, which was launched on the Columbia River in 1860. It is unclear whether the steamship was named before or after Willing’s claim was revealed. Regardless, a portion of Washington Territory, including Idaho County, was used to create Idaho Territory in 1863.

Despite this lack of evidence for the origin of the name, many textbooks well into the 20th century repeated as fact Willing’s account that the name “Idaho” derived from the Shoshone term “ee-da-how”.

The name “Idaho” may be derived from the Plains Apache word “ídaahę́”, which means “enemy.” The Comanches used this word to refer to the Idaho Territory.
An excerpt from a 1956 Idaho history textbook:

“Idaho" is a Shoshoni Indian exclamation. The word consists of three parts. The first is “Ee”, which in English conveys the idea of “coming down”. The second is “dah” which is the Shoshoni stem or root for both “sun” and “mountain”. The third syllable, “how”, denotes the exclamation and stands for the same thing in Shoshoni that the exclamation mark (!) does in the English language. The Shoshoni word is “Ee-dah-how”, and the Indian thought thus conveyed when translated into English means, “Behold! the sun coming down the mountain”.[

According to local knowledge, the name Idaho originated from the Nez Perce language and stands for “the Land of many Waters”, a kidney-shaped drainage area in north central Idaho in which a multitude of rivers come together. These rivers include the Snake, the Salmon, the Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater River, the Selway, and more. The famed steamboat was probably named ‘Idaho’ because it voyaged along the Columbia river to “the Land of many Waters”.

Wikipedia: Idaho (sidewheeler)
The sidewheeler Idaho was a steamboat that ran on the Columbia River and Puget Sound from 1860 to 1898. It is said that the State of Idaho was named after this steamboat. This steamer should not be confused with the many other vessels of the same name, including the sternwheeler Idaho built in 1903 for service on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the steamship Idaho of the Pacific Coast Steamship Line which sank near Port Townsend, Washington.

Wiktionary: Idaho
Etymology
When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested “Idaho,” which he claimed was a Shoshone term meaning “gem of the mountains”. It was later revealed Willing had made up the name himself.
Pronunciation
(General American) IPA(key): /ˈaɪdəhoʊ/
Proper noun
Idaho

1. A state of the United States of America Capital: Boise.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
Idaho, n.
Etymology:  From a proper name. Etymon: proper name Idaho.
Idaho, the name of a state in the northwestern United States, where the potato is grown.
The name Idaho was apparently first considered in c1860 for what became the Colorado Territory in 1861 (now the state of Colorado); it was subsequently applied to Idaho County (now part of the state of Idaho) in 1863. The origin of the name is uncertain, perhaps < Kiowa-Apache ídaahȩ́́ Comanche (earlier spelt idahi), although the semantic development assumed by this suggestion involves various undocumented steps.

Much later, G. M. Willing claimed to have invented the word (reported in 1875 in a letter by W. O. Stoddard to the New York Tribune 11 Dec. 4/3); however, there is some evidence that it may have been in use in Colorado before Willing came to the West in 1859.

Chronicling America
24 March 1860, New York (NY) Herald, “Territorial Affairs,” pg. 7, col. 2:
There seems to be considerable difficulty about selecting a name for the Pike’s Peak Territory. It has been called Jefferson; but those in authority assert that as there cannot be States enough to name after all of the Presidents, that it will not be policy to go beyond Washington, who stands “alone in his glory.” Acting upon this decision, the Senate Committee have before them the following names: “Tampa,” interpreted Bear; “Idahoe,” meaning Gem of the Mountains, “Nemara;” “Colorado;” “San Juan;” “Lulla,” interpreted Mountain Fairy; “Weapollah;” and “Arrapahoe,” the name of the Indian tribe inhabiting the Pike’s Peak region. The House COmmittee seem to have hit upon the very appropriate name of “Tahosa,” which means Dwellers of the Mountain Tops. This, or “Idahoe,” will probably be adopted.

1 May 1860, New York (NY) Herald, “News from Washington,” pg. 6, col. 6:
Idaho, “the Gem of the Mountains,” is adopted as the name of the Pike’s Peak Territory.

2 May 1860, Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “From Washington,” pg. 4, col. 6:
The five new Territories which the House Committee on Territories propose to organize, contain respectfully the following number of inhabitants: Chippeza, from 5,000 to 10,000; Nevada, about the same; Dakotah, 5,000; Idaho (Pike’s Peak) 15,000 to 20,000; Arizona, 6,000 to 8,000.

2 May 1860, Boston (MA) Evening Transcript, pg. 4, col. 4:
PROPOSED TERRITORIES. The House Committee on Territories have agreed upon bills for organizing five new territories, which will include the entire unorganized region between the Mississippi Valley and the Pacific slope. Their names are to be Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Dacotah and Chippewa.

California Digital Newspaper Collection
21 June 1860, Sacramento (CA) Daily Union, pg. 1, col. 5:
LAUNCH ON THE UPPER COLUMBIA.—The new and splendid steamer now building at the Cascades by the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, and designed to run between Dalles and the Cascades, was successfully launched on Saturday, the 9th of June. The name of the new steamer is Idahoe—an Indian word signifying “gem of the mountains,” and which, by the way, is the name given by Congress to the new Territory embracing Pike’s Peak. The Idahoe is by far the largest boat ever built to ply in the waters of the Upper Columbia, and will offer unequaled accommodations for freight and passengers. It is expected that the new boat will be ready to take her place on the route on or before the 1st of August.—Mountaineer.

28 August 1860, Daily Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), pg. 1, col. 2:
IDAHO RESTAURANT.
CORNER of Lawrence and F Streets, East, and nearly opposite the store of Messrs. Clayton & Lowe.

10 October 1860, Daily Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), pg. 1, col. 4:
IDAHO HOUSE.
On Fourth street near Ferry. A. B. More, Proprietor. Regular and Transient Boarders accommodated. Meals at all hours.

OCLC WorldCat record
Rocky Mountains gold mines : Idaho (gem of the mountains) Gold and Silver Mining Company, Quartz Hill, Nevada district, Pikes Peak.
Author: Geo M Willing; John W Woods
Publisher: Baltimore : John W. Woods, steam printer, No. 202 Baltimore Street, [1860]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Map of Idaho (and the Gold Region of the Rocky Mountains.) By J.L. Campbell. ([With] Map of the Chicago and Rock Island and Mississippi and Missouri Railway and Connecs).
Author: J L Campbell
Publisher: Chicago, [1860?]
Edition/Format: Map : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, and Steam Packet Lines! on Missouir [sic] River : the most practicable route to St. Joseph, Kansas City ... Daily overland California stages to the gold mines of Idaho, Bannock City, Virginia City, Denver, Boisu [sic], California, and the Washoe Silver Mines, and to Salt Lake City ...
Author: Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company.
Publisher: [Hannibal, Mo.] : [publisher not identified], [1860]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Colton’s map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, & Montana.
Author: J H Colton
Publisher: New York : J.H. Colton, ©1860.
Edition/Format: Map : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Journal of the ... session of the Council of Idaho Territory.
Author: Idaho Territory. Legislative Assembly. Council.
Publisher: Boise City : Territorial Printer, -1864.
Edition/Format: Journal, magazine : State or province government publication : English

19 March 1863, Christian Advocate and Journal, “Domestic Miscellany,” pg. 95,col. 1:
TERRITORY OF IDAHO.—Congress has passed a bill to make a new territory out of Eastern Oregon and Western Dakota, under the name of Idaho, which is Indian for Gem of the Mountains.

July 1867, Hours at Home; A Popular Monthly of Instruction and Recreation, pg. 272, col. 1:
FROM IDAHO TO SAN FRANCISCO.
THERE is a region far inland from the great Western Ocean, composed of deserts and mountains, with here and there an oasis of valley, like a green thread among the wastes, that bears the name of Idaho. he word, translated from the aboriginal, signifies “The Gem of the Mountains,” and the treasures of that territory, as developed of late and promised for the future, are proof that the region is aptly named.

14 December 1875, Hartford (CT) Daily Courant, pg. 2, col. 3:
THE NAME OF IDAHO:
The Case Stated Historically,
HOW IDAHO WAS NAMED.
The the Editor of the Tribune:—
Sir:—A paragraph is again working its way through the customary “rounds of the newspapers” to the effect that the meaning of the word “Idaho,” in some musical Indian tongue or other, is “Gem of the Mountains.” To this is now added, whether by authority or not I am unable to say, the curious assertion that Joaquin Miller claims to have stood godfather to the territory so named. It is almost a pity to spoil a pretty fiction, a good joke, and any man’s claim to distinction all in one breath, but I believe the truth to be very nearly as follows:—

My eccentric friend, the late George M. Willing, was the first delegate to congress from the young mining community. At the time when the subject of organization of the new territory was under debate he was, as a matter of course, on the floor of the house of representatives. Various names had been proposed without any seeming approach to agreement, and the doctor, whose familiarity with Indian dialects was pretty well known, was appealed to by some of his legislative friends for a suggestion. One of them said, “Something round and smooth, now, with the right sort of meaning to it.” Now it happened that the little daughter of one of these gentlemen was on the floor that morning with her father, and the doctor, who was fond of children, had just been calling her to him with, “Ida, ho, come and see me.”

Nothing could be better, and the veteran explorer promptly responded with the name, “Idaho.”

“But what does it mean?”

“Gem of the Mountains,” replied the quick-witted doctor, with a glance at the fresh face beside him, and the interpretation, like the name, has “stuck” to this day. Dr. Willing told me about it at the time, or soon afterward, with a most gleeful appreciation of the humor of the thing, and I have often since heard him rehearse the story.
WILLIAM O. STODDARD.
New York Tribune of Dec. 11th.

One can easily believe that Mr. Stoddard’s late eccentric friend used to tell him this little story “with a most gleeful appreciation of the humor of the thing.” He would have been even more tickled to have seen it in print. A few words will show where the joke comes in. THe name “Idaho” was discussed in congress before there was any “young mining community” in what is now Idaho Territory, and more than two years before the passage of the bill for organizing that territory.

There was a mining settlement called Idaho not far from Pike’s Peak, on Clear Creek, about thirty-five miles west of Denver. When the inhabitants of the Pike’s Peak country applied for territorial organization their delegate, Hiram P. Bennett, proposed the name of Idaho for the new territory, and this name was adopted in the bill reported by the committee on territories, in February, 1861. When the bill was before the senate, the name was changed to Colorado, at the request of the delegate, and on the motion of Henry Wilson, who said, “This word Idaho means nothing. There is nothing in it.”

In the summer of 1862, there was a rush from Clear Creek and Pike’s Peak to Washington (now Montana) Territory, and the emigrants transferred a good many names from the old diggings to the new. In March, 1863, a bill was before congress to provide a territorial government for Montana. Mr. Wilson “moved to strike out the name of the territory, and insert Idaho.” He said: ”Montana is no name at all.” B. F> Harding, senator from Oregon advocated the change, because ”Idaho in ENglish signifies ‘the gem of the mountains.’ The name is well understood in signification and orthography in all that country.” The amendment was finally agreed to, and “Idaho” became the name of the territory.

The first delegate from the territory was Col. William H. Wallace, who, when the bill passed congress, was a delegate from Washington territory.

The name—whatever its meaning or origin—belonged to northern COlorado lon before it was given to the present Idaho territory.

It certainly does not mean “gem of the mountains” or any thing like it, in any Indian language of the region in which is was first found. It would, in fact, be as impossible for an Indian to name, as it would be to conceive of, a mountain as “a gem.” It is a good enough name for a dime-novel writer, and “our own correspondent” at Franconia, or in the Adirondacks might use it to advantage; but an Indian is as unlikely to talk of a “mountain gem” as of a “perfect brick,” or a “broth of a boy”—or of an “ovation” when he means a funeral.

If the name is Indian, it should be either an Arapaho or more probably, a Cheyenne word. The Cheyennes, it is said, used to call themselves Istayoo. The Cheyenne s before t is very soft, sometimes scarcely to be detected. I sta Yoo might easily be made I ta you and . But this is only conjecture.
J. H. T.

1 May 1876, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, pg. 2, col. 4:
IDAHO.
Origin and Meaning of the Territorial Name.
To the Editor of the Chronicle—SIR: The origin of this word and its significance having received more or less attention by writer for Eastern journals, it may not be amiss for a resident of the Territory bearing this name to tell what he knows about it. William O. Stoddard, in an article to the New York Tribune, says the word was coined and given to our Territory as a name by his eccentric friend “George M. Willing, the first delegate to Congress.” As no man of that name ever represented either Idaho or Washington Territory in Congress he must have been laboring under some strange mistake. J. Hammond Trumbull, “student of Indian legends and languages,” is credited with saying in a letter o the Hartford Courant that the name belonged to Northern Colorado long before it was given to Idaho Territory. This is also an error. The word Idaho undoubtedly belongs to the Nez Perce tribe of Indians, for previous to the settlement of the territory by the whites they had a town on the ground that is now covered by the town of Lewiston in the northern part of this territory, to which they gave the name of Idaho. True, there is a town in Colorado named “Idaho,” but it most likely borrowed is name from this country, as that town had no existence till long after the name had been in use here. In 1857 two steamers were placed upon the Columbia river as a freight and passenger line, the one plying between Portland and the Cascades being called the Mountain Buck, and the one running between the Cascades and Dallas being called the Idaho.

In 1860 Governor William H. Wallace, Judge Lander and Judge Garfield were canvassing the Territory of Washington for Delegate to Congress. While at Oro Fino in company of Judge Hayes and George B. Walker, Esq., the question of a division of the Territory being under discussion, it was agreed that whoever of the three candidate should be elected, would favor a division of the Territory. The question of the name of the new Territory coming up, Mr. Walker suggested that of “Idaho,” which met with the approval of all present. Governor Wallace was elected, and in the Winter of 1861-2, introduced and secured passage of a bill dividing the Territory of Washington and organizing that of Idaho. He was appointed first Governor of Idaho, and at the first election (in 1862) was elected Delegate to Congress from Idaho. Too much uncertainty exist in relation to the significance of the word to warrant a positive assertion, but there is poetry in the idea that it means “Gem of the Mountains.” And if it is a hallucination let us enjoy this belief until some one can prove it erroneous. An Indian may have some idea of a gem and some word to express it.
OWYHEE.
SILVER CITY, Idaho, April 20, 1876.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
28 July 1907, The Telegram (Elmira, NY), magazine, pg. 3, col. 7:
ORIGIN OF IDAHO EXPLAINED.
Emigrant Pioneer WOuld Call for Little Girl, “Ida, Ida!” He Reply “Ho.”
Con Doty, of Bayhorse, Idaho, submits the following to a north Idaho paper as his idea of the origin and significance of “Idaho”: “In 1861 President Lincoln appointed a man by the name of Fitch captain over an emigrant train. The train started from St. Paul, Minn., and was bound for Walla Walla via the northern route (Mullan road). At this time the Indians were restless, and weak of small parties were forbidden to travel until a certain number of wagons were in a train; then a captain had to be selected before the train was allowed to move. The train consisted of 114 wagons. Fitch was captain. He had a little daughter named Ida. Ida’s mother was dead. Little Ida accompanied her father to Walla Walla. Captain Fitch did not like to have Ida out f his sight much, so when Fitch would lose sight of Ida he would call, ‘Ida, Ida Ida!’ She would answer by saying, ‘Ho!’ Soon the train people gave the girl the name of ‘Idaho.’ THe name please Captain Fitch and little Ida returned to St. Paul. Afterwards Captain Fitch returned to Washington City. When Congress created the territory of Idaho, Captain Fitch suggested the name of ‘Idaho’ for the new territory. The name was accepted and little Ida Fitch was immortalized. A one time the writer was personally acquainted with Captain Fitch and little Ida, but at this writing cannot recall the captain’s first name. The statement is authentic and can be relied upon. I can find no authority that the word ‘Idaho” signifies mountain gem or gem of the mountains.”

23 June 1965, Austin (TX) Statesman, pg. A-47:
Name of Idaho
From the Indian

BOISE, Idaho (UPI)—The name of this northwest state comes from an Indian word, “E-Da-How,” meaning “Behold, the sun comes down from the mountains.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Other ExpressionsOther States • Wednesday, April 20, 2016 • Permalink