Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Origin of the name "Hahatonka"

A post office since 1897. Located on the eastern bank of Big Niangua River in the northern part of Warren Township, seven miles south of Linn Creek. Named by Major Kellog when the town was laid out at the beautiful springs at this place. He claimed it was derived from the Indian words, "Iha-ha," to smile, and "tonka," meaning water. It means then "smiling waters." The etymology, as is often the case with such artificial, "made-up" Indian appellations, is a highly dubious one. It is true that there is in the Osage language a verb "i-ha-ha," but it means "to laugh" or "to ridicule" rather than to smile; and the word "tonka" (more correctly "tonga" in the Osage language) means "big," not "water." Major Kellog probably modeled his name on that of Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, which means "big water;" but it is the first part of that name, "Minne," that means "water," and the second part, "tonka," means "big." The Indian name of these beautiful Missouri Springs means, therefore, if it means anything, rather "Big Laugh" than "Smiling Waters."

Overlay, Fauna R. "Place Names Of Five South Central Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1943.