"There is a stream running through Washington County,
Maryland, from the Pennsylvania line to the Potomac
River, whose name will be famous as long as America
endures, the placid Antietam.
"It has been impossible to trace the meaning of its name,
but tradition says tat it is of Indian origin. It is probably
the name of an Indian chief, and in early times its musical
syllables were spelled in various ways. We find it written
"Anteatem," and oftener yet in the rather cannibalistic
form of "Anti-Etem." It is a beautiful, wide stream,
meandering slowly through a country of great beauty and
interest. Sycamores lean their dappled trunks across it,
and water willows mark its course with soft masses of
grayish foliage while they hide it from view. A tangle of
blackberries and wild roses, of papaws and hazel bushes,
of elder and poisonous ivy, fringes its banks. Its waters
are not sparkling; they often carry a large amount of muddy
matter which gives the stream a thick and turgid appearance,
and after heavy rains it will carry this earthy charge for
days. But it is peacefully beautiful, and flows through one
of the richest farming lands in America.
- from "The Antietam and its Bridges" by Helen Ashe Hays, 1910
Brian Downey wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I got some great help from you all a few years back on this question,
> but I can't get into my email archives. Please pick your brains and
> help we on this will you?
> I had an email correspondant ask the source of the word 'antietam'. I
> remember it being a local Indian word, perhaps describing the
> characteristics of the creek it names.
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