Buffalo's Name Origin:
Theories Summarized and Ranked
A view of the Lake & Fort Erie from Buffalo Creek, 1810. This is the first-known picture ever made of what is now Buffalo.
Buffalo CreekThe one thing that all name theorists agree on is that Buffalo the city takes its name from Buffalo Creek, now called the Buffalo River. The debate revolves around how the creek got its name.

Buffalo Creek was known by that name before the Revolutionary War. The name first appears on a map drawn ca. 1762 by Lt. George Demler, who was stationed at Fort Niagara. By 1764, the name was known to Captain John Montresor, who describes pursuing a party of Allegheny Indians to Buffalo Creek in his journal, June 22, 1764.
Beaver Creek
Seven theoriesWe identified seven theories about how Buffalo, NY got its name. We present each one here on its own page, with evidence in favor and opposed, and sources. We then added our own plausibility ranking.

Links to each theory are in the right column and across the top of the page.
Seneca Name
CreditsBy Cynthia Van Ness and a terrific library volunteer who wishes to remain nameless.
©The Buffalo History Museum, 2021
EditsIf we find new theories, sources, or evidence, we will add them to this document.Basswood
View as a PDFThis document is also online as a PDF that you can page throughBeau Fleuve
Short, sharable link Blanc
A bibliographyHere are some works that present various Buffalo name origin theories
Contact uslibrary@buffalohistory.orgLast updated
May 21, 2022