Pocusset Street

From Pittsburgh Streets
Pocusset Street
Neighborhood Squirrel Hill South

Pocusset Street is first named in an 1881 city ordinance establishing the names of all streets in the city at that time: "Pocusset street, from Monitor street to Forward avenue, Twenty-second ward."[1] This description is rather difficult to interpret, since it does not match the course of the modern Pocusset Street. The 1890 Hopkins atlas shows Pocusset Street running north from Forward Avenue to Phillips Street;[2] today this is part of Beechwood Boulevard. It is possible, then, that Pocusset Street also extended south of Forward Avenue to meet Monitor Street (though the 1890 Hopkins map does not show this). An 1895 map by J. F. Diffenbacher agrees with the Hopkins atlas, with "Pocusset Ave." mainly north of Forward Avenue, though a southward stub could have continued to an unlabeled Monitor Street.[3] An earlier Hopkins atlas from 1872 clearly shows Pocusset extending both north and south of Forward, even past the line of Monitor Street, though none of these roads are labeled.[4] In any case, the description remained "from Monitor to Forward ave." in all street directories through 1899.[a]

A series of changes between 1894 and 1901 moved Pocusset Street to where it is today. First, the segment of Beechwood Avenue (today's Beechwood Boulevard) from Forbes Street (today's Forbes Avenue) to a "Schenley Park Bridge" over Forward Avenue was officially located in November 1894 and opened the following March.[25][26] A part of this roadway was laid along the old Pocusset Street, which effectively ceased to exist in its own right. Next, the portion of Forward Avenue between the newly opened Beechwood Avenue and Murray Avenue was renamed Pocussett Avenue in January 1896.[27] Then the full length of Pocusset Street, from Beechwood to Schenley Park, was located and opened (as Pocussett Avenue) that March.[28][29] Finally, the segment between Beechwood and Murray was changed back to Forward Avenue in June 1901.[30]

The origin of the name Pocusset is obscure. The name seems not to exist in any context other than this street.

In a 1904 column in the Connellsville Courier, A. G. McKean included "Pocussett" in a list of Pittsburgh street names of Native American origin, with no further detail.[31] George T. Fleming and Annie Clark Miller also included Pocusset in similar lists.[32][33] Indeed, the name Pocasset, with an A, is the name of a Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts, rivers in that state and Rhode Island, and towns in Massachusetts and Oklahoma. This name is from a southern New England Algonquian language, perhaps from parts meaning "it divides" and "place"; William Bright lists Pucasset as a variant, with Pochassic and Pocksha as related placenames.[34] But there is no apparent connection from Squirrel Hill to any of these places. And, unfortunately, McKean then goes on to present a story claiming that an alley called Cuba-You-Quit referred to a child bully named Cuba to whom other children would complain, "Cuba, you quit,"[31] which is clearly a fanciful folk etymology: see Cuba Way for the true origin (it actually should have been included in the list of Native American street names). So McKean does not seem to be a wholly reliable source. That column says that the list of streets was compiled from "an examination of the Pittsburg and Allegheny street directory," and a Native American origin for Pocusset may have been assumed based only on its sound.

For lack of any solid information, here's another possibility: The Hopkins maps of 1872, 1882, and 1890 show that Ernest Succop owned a plot of land to the north of Forward Avenue, alongside the original Pocusset Street.[4][35][2] Succop was an owner and operator of Ohio River towboats who retired to Squirrel Hill,[36] and his land on the old Pocusset Street made him one of the largest owners of adjacent property when Beechwood Boulevard was built.[37] Could "Pocusset" be an invented word based on E. Succop's name written backward? Such wordplay in street names is not entirely unknown: see Aidyl Avenue and Sinnet Way. If there is no connection between the names, then the similarity between "Pocusset" and "POCCUS E" is certainly quite a coincidence.

Notes

  1. See the Diffenbacher directories of 1882,[5] 1883,[6] 1884,[7] 1885,[8] 1886,[9] 1887,[10] 1888,[11] 1889,[12] 1890,[13] 1891,[14] 1892,[15] 1893,[16] 1894,[17] 1895,[18] 1896,[19] and 1897;[20] Neeper's election district guide from 1886;[21] the Blue Book from 1895;[22] and the Polk directories from 1898[23] and 1899.[24]

References

  1. "An ordinance establishing the names of avenues, streets, lanes and alleys of the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1881, no. 33. Passed Feb. 28, 1881; approved Mar. 4, 1881. Ordinance Book 5, p. 212. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the Select and Common Councils of the City of Pittsburgh, for the year 1880, pp. 213–234 (Internet Archive pghmunicipalrecord1880). [view source]ordinance-1881-33
  2. 2.0 2.1 Atlas of the City of Pittsburgh, vol. 4. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1890. http://historicpittsburgh.org/maps-hopkins/1890-volume-4-atlas-pittsburgh; included in the 1890 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]hopkins-1890-vol-4
  3. J. F. Diffenbacher. Map of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities. 1895. In J. F. Diffenbacher, J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1895: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, fortieth annual issue, J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1895 (DonsList.net Pgh1895M; Google Books 8ptIwuAxp1wC; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723278). [view source]diffenbacher-1895-map
  4. 4.0 4.1 Atlas of the Cities of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and the Adjoining Boroughs. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1872. http://historicpittsburgh.org/maps-hopkins/1872-atlas-pittsburgh-allegheny; 1872 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]hopkins-1872
  5. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh & Allegheny Cities for 1882–'83: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies, and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, twenty-sixth [sic] annual issue. Diffenbacher & Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1882. Historic Pittsburgh 31735051650889. [view source]diffenbacher-1882
  6. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1883: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, twenty-eighth annual issue. Diffenbacher & Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1883. Historic Pittsburgh 31735056286713. [view source]diffenbacher-1883
  7. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1884: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, twenty-ninth annual issue. Diffenbacher & Thurston, Pittsburgh, 1884. DonsList.net Pgh1884M; Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290798. [view source]diffenbacher-1884
  8. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1885: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirtieth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1885. DonsList.net Pgh1885M; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723187. [view source]diffenbacher-1885
  9. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1886: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-first annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1886. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723195. [view source]diffenbacher-1886
  10. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1887: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-second annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1887. Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290806. [view source]diffenbacher-1887
  11. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1888: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-third annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1888. Historic Pittsburgh 31735056290848. [view source]diffenbacher-1888
  12. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1889: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-fourth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1889. Historic Pittsburgh 31735056286754. [view source]diffenbacher-1889
  13. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1890: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-fifth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1890. DonsList.net Pgh1890M; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723211. [view source]diffenbacher-1890
  14. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Cities, for 1891: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies, and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-sixth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1891. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723229. [view source]diffenbacher-1891
  15. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1892: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies, and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-seventh annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1892. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723237. [view source]diffenbacher-1892
  16. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1893: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-eighth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1893. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723252. [view source]diffenbacher-1893
  17. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1894: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, thirty-ninth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1894. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723260. [view source]diffenbacher-1894
  18. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1895: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, fortieth annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1895. DonsList.net Pgh1895M; Google Books 8ptIwuAxp1wC; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723278. [view source]diffenbacher-1895
  19. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1896: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, forty-first annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher, Pittsburgh, 1896. Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723294. [view source]diffenbacher-1896
  20. J. F. Diffenbacher. J. F. Diffenbacher's Directory of Pittsburg and Allegheny Cities for 1897: Embracing a general directory of residences of citizens, full classified business directory, register of public institutions, benevolent societies and city government; directory of the streets, secret societies, schools and churches, forty-second annual issue. J. F. Diffenbacher and R. L. Polk & Co., Pittsburgh, 1897. DonsList.net Pgh1897M; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723278. [view source]diffenbacher-1897
  21. A. M. Neeper. Maps and Descriptions of the Election Districts in the Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. W. V. Dermitt & Co., Pittsburgh, 1886. Google Books clI_AQAAMAAJ; Historic Pittsburgh 00c595180m. [view source]neeper
  22. Martha W. Brown Haven. The Pittsburg and Allegheny Blue Book: An elite directory containing prominent professional, literary, business and society families of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Lawrence, Mercer and Washington Counties, Pennsylvania: Also East Liverpool, Salem and Youngstown, Ohio: June, 1895. Martha W. Brown Haven, Pittsburgh, 1895. DonsList.net PGH_ALLEGH1895_BBM; Historic Pittsburgh 09acu4141s. [view source]brown-haven
  23. R. L. Polk & Co. and R. L. Dudley. Pittsburgh and Allegheny Directory: Adjacent territory and complete business compendium of Allegheny County for 1898, forty-third annual issue. R. L. Polk & Co. and R. L. Dudley, Pittsburgh, 1898. DonsList.net PghAllegh1898CDM; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055722874. [view source]polk-1898
  24. R. L. Polk & Co. and R. L. Dudley. Pittsburgh and Allegheny Directory: Adjacent territory and complete business compendium of Allegheny County for 1899, forty-fourth annual issue. R. L. Polk & Co. and R. L. Dudley, Pittsburgh, 1899. DonsList.net Pgh1899M; Historic Pittsburgh 31735055723310. [view source]polk-1899
  25. "An ordinance locating Beechwood avenue, from Forbes street to Schenley park bridge, over Forward avenue." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1894, no. 195. Passed Nov. 12, 1894; approved Nov. 14, 1894. Ordinance Book 10, p. 35. Reprinted in the Pittsburg Press, Nov. 28, 1894, p. 6 (Newspapers.com 141543167), Nov. 30, p. 7 (Newspapers.com 141543447), and Dec. 1, p. 6 (Newspapers.com 141543671). [view source]ordinance-1894-195
  26. "An ordinance authorizing the opening of Beechwood avenue from Forbes street to Schenley park bridge over Forward avenue and the assessment of damages caused by the grade of the same." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1895, no. 352. Passed Mar. 18, 1895; approved Mar. 21, 1895. Ordinance Book 10, p. 200. Reprinted in the Pittsburg Press, Apr. 3, 1895, p. 6 (Newspapers.com 141561795), and Apr. 4, p. 4 (Newspapers.com 141561872). [view source]ordinance-1895-352
  27. "An ordinance changing the name of Forward avenue, from Beechwood avenue to Murray avenue, to `Pocussett avenue.'" Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1896, no. 699. Passed Jan. 13, 1896; approved Jan. 18, 1896. Ordinance Book 10, p. 527. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, Jan. 28, 1896, p. 10 (Newspapers.com 85426614); and in the Pittsburg Press, Feb. 4, 1896, p. 7 (Newspapers.com 141574212). [view source]ordinance-1896-699
  28. "An ordinance locating Pocussett avenue, from Murray avenue to the east line of Schenley park." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1896, no. 793. Passed Feb. 28, 1896; approved Mar. 2, 1896. Ordinance Book 11, p. 1. Reprinted in the Pittsburg Press, Mar. 20, 1896, p. 11 (Newspapers.com 141573245), and Mar. 21, p. 7 (Newspapers.com 141573260). [view source]ordinance-1896-793
  29. "An ordinance authorizing the opening of Pocussett avenue, from Beechwood avenue to the east line of Schenley park, and the assessment of damages caused by the grade of the same." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1896, no. 805. Passed Mar. 4, 1896; approved Mar. 6, 1896. Ordinance Book 11, p. 10. Reprinted in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, Mar. 26, 1896, p. 8 (Newspapers.com 85430071); and in the Pittsburg Press, Mar. 30, 1896, p. 9 (Newspapers.com 141573513). [view source]ordinance-1896-805
  30. "An ordinance changing the name of certain avenues, streets and alleys in the City of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh city ordinance, 1901, no. 109. Passed June 24, 1901; approved June 28, 1901. Ordinance Book 14, p. 30. In Municipal Record: Minutes of the proceedings of the [Select and Common Councils] of the City of Pittsburgh, for the year 1901–1902, appendix, pp. 46–47, Devine & Co., Pittsburgh, 1902 (Google Books vMJEAQAAMAAJ; HathiTrust chi.096598960; Internet Archive Pghmunicipalrecordselect1901). Reprinted in the Pittsburg Post, July 8, 1901, p. 9 (Newspapers.com 86389546), and July 9, p. 9 (Newspapers.com 86389638); and in the Pittsburg Press, July 11, 1901, p. 9 (Newspapers.com 141376761), July 12, p. 11 (Newspapers.com 141353714), and July 13, p. 4 (Newspapers.com 141353981). [view source]ordinance-1901-109
  31. 31.0 31.1 A. G. McKean. "Our Pittsburg letter." Courier (Connellsville, Penna.), Apr. 28, 1904, p. 6. Newspapers.com 37848766. [view source]mckean
  32. George T. Fleming. "Streets named for fierce Indians: Effects of the enforced migration of Redskins on early city's growth: Post and Gen. Forbes." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Apr. 11, 1915, sec. 6, [p. 6]. Newspapers.com 85420748. [view source]fleming-fierce-indians
  33. Annie Clark Miller. Early Land Marks and Names of Old Pittsburgh: An address delivered before the Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution at Carnegie Institute, Nov. 30, 1923, p. 8. Pittsburgh Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924. Historic Pittsburgh 00awn8211m; Internet Archive earlylandmarksna00mill. [view source]miller
  34. William Bright. Native American Placenames of the United States, p. 387. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8061-3598-4. [view source]bright
  35. Atlas of the Cities Pittsburgh and Allegheny. G. M. Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, 1882. http://historicpittsburgh.org/maps-hopkins/1882-atlas-pittsburgh-allegheny; 1882 layer at Pittsburgh Historic Maps (https://esriurl.com/pittsburgh). [view source]hopkins-1882
  36. "Pioneer dies at his home: Captain John B. Ford passes peacefully away at Creighton, near Ford City: Original plate glass man: After several attempts his venture proves magnificent success to his efforts: Other deaths of the day: Ernest Succop." Pittsburg Post, May 3, 1903, p. 4. Newspapers.com 86381625. [view source]succop-obit
  37. "Like a serpent: Winding driveway through the Squirrel Hill district: Will cost many thousands: The ordinance for the boulevard goes to councils Monday: Capitalists getting options: They gobble up the land their drive will pass through—the road starts at Forbes street and Shady Lane and runs along the hills of Nine Mile run, entering Schenley park over the Forward avenue bridge." Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, Oct. 25, 1894, p. 2. Newspapers.com 85579038. [view source]serpent