Cushanadauga … or Brokenstraw Township

In the center of Warren County lies Brokenstraw Township.

Through the center of Brokenstraw Township flows Brokenstraw Creek.

The borders of Brokenstraw Township, Crawford County, eventually became the borders of Warren County, and Brokenstraw became a township within the county.

In 1819, when Warren County was formally recognized as an independent county, there were only two townships — Brokenstraw and Conewango.

According to Ernest C. Miller’s Place Names in Warren County, Pennsylvania, Brokenstraw is a translation of the Seneca word Cushanadauga.

Dr. Randy John of the Seneca Nation of Indians and author of “People of the Hills, Places, and Names” said the term translates to broken reed, broken straw, or cut straw.

Prior to the current renderings in English, the translations held up in French. According to Miller, in 1739 and 1749, French expeditions pronounced the native term Kachinodiagon and Gachinantiagon. In French, they called it paille coupee — cut straw.

According to Schenck’s History of Warren County, published in 1887, “The Irvine Flats once bore an annual crop of tall prairie grass which in the fall would break and fall over.”

Brokenstraw Creek flows from Columbus Township into Spring Creek Township and Pittsfield Township where it meets up with the Little Brokenstraw. The run together through Brokenstraw Township and Youngsville Borough to the Allegheny River at Irvine.

At that point was a village known as Buccaloons, John said. To the English, it was Buckaloons, according to Miller.

That term remains on a recreation site where the waterways meet in Irvine.

That translation was not as clear-cut. “There are almost 40 different names for Buccaloons, as well,” John said.

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