NOTE: In New York State, the correct spelling of the County name is ALLEGANY. Rivers, mountains, towns and counties in other states may be spelled differently! Please know we are proud of our County and of the correct spelling! rt
"THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME.
Indian tradition attributes this Aboriginal name, which has so strongly fastened itself upon
various places and geographical features of America, notably the Alleghany Mountains, Allegheny
City, Allegheny River (Penn.), Allegany River and Allegany County (N. Y.), to an ancient
race of Indians called Talegi, Talligewi, or Allegewi. This nation was a very warlike one and
spread itself over the country east of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, but, after long and
bloody wars, it was overpowered and driven south by a confederacy of tribes whose descendants
are the Iroquois and Algonquin nations of to-day. This ancient people is conjectured by
some to be the early Appalachian Indians, whom De Soto found in 1539 in Florida and the
territory of the Gulf States. Schoolcraft says, " They were numerous, fierce and valorous*
They were clothed in skins of wild beasts. They used bows and arrows, clubs and spears.
They did not poison their darts. They were temperate, drinking only water. They did not make
wars on slight pretences, or for avarice, but to repress attacks, or remedy injustice. They
treated their prisoners with humanity and like persons of their own households. They were
long-lived, some reaching a hundred years. They worshipped the sun, to which they sang hymns
morning and evening. Washington Irving deemed the name Appalachia or Allegania as the
fit name for this continent.
Rev. P. J. Wilson of St. Bonaventure's Seminary and College at Allegany, N. Y., kindly
sends the following: " The Indian name for Allegany is a compound word., Talegwi-henna or
Talegwi-hanna. Let us see first what Talegwi means. The chronicles of the Algonquians
state that the Lenape migrated eastward from the far west. When they reached the Mississippi
they found the country east of it inhabited by a people called Talegi, Talligewi or Allegewi.
Therefore, to the Algonquins Talegwi or Allegewi meant the country and people-east of the
Mississippi, the country to which they emigrated from afar. The next part of the compound
Is Henna or Hanna. It means river. Hence Tallegwe-henna or Tellegwi-hanna, the Indian
name for Allegany, means the river of the country of the Talligewi—The river of the country to
which they immigrated. At first the name was given to the Ohio. After the Lenape reached
it they called it Talegahonah. The Iroquois changed this to Ohio, a word from their own
language. But the Ohio's chief tributary still retains the name— Talegwi-hanna, Allegewi-Hanna,
Alleghany. The Alleghany mountains for a similar reason were called Talega-chukang."
("Allegany County & It's People; A Centennial Memorial History of Allegany County, NY; John S. Minard, Esq., County
Historian; President, Allegany County Historical Society. 1896.")