Why "Chemung"?

and what's a mastodon?

"The name "Chemung" has a well-ascertained meaning in the language of the Senecas, for "Big Horn," and indicating the fact that in the banks of the river had been found an object resembling an immense horn, or perhaps rather a tusk, belonging to some animal of great size [Wooly Mastodons] who roamed the locality in the ages of the Megatherium or the Mastodon. Two of these horns were found, one by the Indians, that gave the name to the river and is now in Quebec, Canada and another by the earliest settlers, who, however, valued it so lightly that it disappeared from the blacksmith's shop where it had been left to have an iron band put around its larger end to preserve it.

There is another name in the valley that points to a similar origin, "Conongue," meaning "horn in the water. The term "Chemung" has attained other significances than that which belongs to its Indian derivation, each instance marking an excellence or a quality that is indisputeable.In the accepted geological classification there is a group of rocks in the Paleozoic age which is name the Chemung group, there being in the valley outcropping of the variety more extended and more decided in their character than are to be observed anywhere else on the continent....

The terms "Chemung lumber" and "Chemung butter" both in their respective markets designating articles of the finest quality and grade, and becoming standard trade marks for them without regard to the locality in which they are produced. Still another product, "Chemung tobacco" is rapidly advancing to a position achieved by the others named, and "Chemung celery" has a toothsome crispness and flavor possessed by that grouwn in no other soil.

Ausburn Towner, 1879
The History of Chemung County
pp 27 - 28

Other local mammoth or mastodon finds
1786 - 1787 Athens, Pennsylvania tusk found by Caleb Baker, disappeared from a blacksmith's shop.
1799 Tusk found - sent to England for scientific testing - never returned
1840s - Tusk found - while on loan to Lafayette College (Easton, PA) destroyed in fire
1853 Tusk on Big Island (near today's Dunn Field) on Elmira's Southside. On display at local restaurants of the time - has since disappeared.
1853 Chemung, New York - remains of mammoth found while digging the Junction Canal. Today's whereabouts unknown.
1872 Golden Glow, New York - 2 mammoth molars and jawbone found. Today's whereabouts unknown.
Unknown date - mammoth molar found in Elmira. Today's whereabouts unknown.
1933 - Elmira, New York - William Street - mammoth molar found while excavating the Sheriff's house. Today's location - local Historical Society.
1936 - Big Island, Elmira - mammoth tusk found. "Mislaid." Today's whereabouts unknown.
1940 - Big Flats, NY - Mastodon skeleton found. Now in possession of Painted Post Museum, Painted Post, NY.
1999 - Secret location in Chemung County - "The Gilbert Mastodon" - at least one whole skeleton. Now in the possession of Cornell University and currently reside at the Paleontological Research Institution where they are being cleaned, examined, and put on display.



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