My husband and I drove through several Southeastern states via I-10 last week. Admittedly I slept through most of the trip, but during the moments I was awake I managed to spot two intriguing place names: Tchoutacabouffa and Atchafalaya.
Tchoutacabouffa refers to a river in southern Mississippi. The name means “broken pot” in Biloxi, a Siouan language.
Atchafalaya refers to a wetland area in southern Louisiana. The name was derived from the Choctaw term hacha falaia, meaning “long river” (hacha is river, falaia is long).
Of course I had to know if Tchoutacabouffa and Atchafalaya had ever been used as human names. I didn’t find anyone named Tchoutacabouffa, but I did track down several people named Atchafalaya:
- Atchafalaya “Chaffa” Grace, née Gregory (b. 1845, Florida)
- Achafalaya Holstein (b. 1874, West Virginia)
- Atchafalaya Clizer, née Starnes (b. 1876, Missouri)
- M. Atchafalaya Ziler (b. 1876, West Virginia)
- Athafalaya Lilly (b. 1880, West Virginia)
- Atchafalaya Hall, nee Presher (b. 1870-1880, Missouri)
- Atchafalaya Knorr (b. 1892, Pennsylvania)
- Atchafalaya Smith (b. 1905, West Virginia)
Curiously, none of these Atchafalayas (and none of their parents, as far as I could tell) came from Louisiana.