K is for Kuchamakin
If you’ve been reading the Jamaica Plain A to Z series the past couple of weeks, you may be wondering how a neighborhood in Boston ended up getting named Jamaica Plain. The Plain part is deceptively simple. The area around Jamaica Pond where the central village is located is flat. Yet, other parts of the neighborhood are rather hilly.
The Jamaica part is more complicated. There are three theories behind the name.
- It was named by colonial residents of the town of Roxbury who were celebrating Britain capturing the Carribean island of Jamaica from Spain.
- The inhabitants of this region of Roxbury liked to drink their Jamaica rum plain, that is without ice.
- But the most likely explanation is that the English settlers Anglicized the name of Kuchamakin of the local Massachusetts tribe. Kuchamakin was a regent for the sachem of the Massachusetts, Chickatawbut.
A little more Jamaica Plain history. Jamaica Plain has not always been part of Boston, but it has never been an independent municipality. Jamaica Plain, or Jamaica End, was originally part of the town of Roxbury in colonial times. Jamaica Plain joined two other neighborhoods – Roslindale and West Roxbury – in seceding from Roxbury in 1851 to form the town of West Roxbury. Jamaica Plain was the most densely populated area of independent West Roxbury and home to the town hall (now Curtis Hall). Desiring better municipal services, West Roxbury agreed to be annexed by Boston in 1874 (the original Roxbury had already joined Boston in 1868).
I could find no images of Kuchamakin, not even a sketch, but his name is said to mean “big feather.” In his honor, here is a photo of a big feather in Jamaica Plain. Read more on Native Americans in Jamaica Plain.
Post for “K” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.