09 April 2012

Why is Ohio Called the Buckeye State?

The name Buckeye as applied to the State of Ohio is an accepted sobriquet, so well recognized and so generally understood throughout the United States, that its use requires no explanation, although the origin of the term and its significance are not without question, and therefore become proper subjects of consideration during this centennial year.

The usual and most commonly accepted solution is that it originates from the buckeye tree which is indigenous to the State of Ohio and is not found elsewhere.  This, however, is not altogether correct, as it is also found both in Kentucky and Indiana, and in some few localities in Western Virginia, and perhaps elsewhere.  But while such is the fact, its natural locality appears to be in the State of Ohio, and its native soil in the rich valleys of the Muskingum, Hocking, Scioto, Miamis [the Great Miami and the Little Miami] and Ohio, where in the early settlement of the State it was found growing in great abundance, and because of the luxuriance of its foliage, the richly colored dyes of its fruit, and its ready adaptation to the wants and convenience of the pioneers it was highly prized by them for many useful purposes.

It was also well known to and much prized by the Indians from whose rude language comes its name “HETUCK,” meaning the eye of the buck, because of the striking resemblance in color and shape between the brown nut and the eye of that animal, the peculiar spot upon the one corresponding to the iris in the other.  In its application, however, we have reversed the term and call the person or thing to which it is applied a buckeye.