How Tidioute Got Its Name
Old Time Tales of Warren County


How Tidioute Got Its Name

The "decollete" story of how Tidioute got its name is incorrect, there is another tale as to how the town was given a white-man's name about the year 1800, which is far enough back to make it difficult to disprove, if you don't happen to believe it.

In the year 1800 the valley at Tidioute was a very lonely place from a human being's standpoint, which, presumably, is the standpoint from which most of us look at things. The Indians had gone, been driven out before the onward march of settlement, the white man was coming close, his gun could be heard echoing in the forest. There was a type of white settler who used to say, "When you can hear your neighbor's rifle in the woods it's time to move." Like the Indian, those settlers did not like close company, they wanted the freedom of the sparsely inhabited wilderness, so they moved, as the Indians did from Tidioute.

The Original American had left behind him his little village on "the point," deserted, delapidated. The narrow trails over the hills worn by the passage of many moccasined feet were grown up with bushes, the lone industry of the place, the fish-dam, had been swept out by a spring flood, never to be replaced.

There was a small clearing below Gordon Run and a log cabin stood near the spot where Captain Taggart's house is now located. This place evidently belonged to an early trader or trapper who had abandoned it when his trade vanished with the departure of the Indians. There is a misty tale of how this cabin was built by John Frazier of Venango fame. It is said he came here in those early days with his daughter, who was a young lady entirely unacquainted with the forest and its many strange and eerie sounds. It was a nice place to set down a young lady and leave her all alone, especially as there were still some wandering Indians who didn't love white men, to say nothing of bears, "painters" and rattlesnakes.

As the story goes, Frazier went away hunting one summer day and did not return till late in the evening. As the solitary day dragged on with racking slowness, the Frazier girl grew nervous. The drumming of ruffled grouse in the woods she was sure was Indian war drums. At times when fear came over her, she confused the grouse's drumming with the thumping of her own frightened heart. When long blue shadows began to fill the ravines that ran up the hillsides from the river, and new noises commenced to come out of the trees, the poor girl had reached a state of terror.

At that moment the most starling and unearthly cry boomed close by the cabin. A great horned owl, taking the hunting trail for the night, sent his fair warning echoing through the forest. "Too hoot! Too hoot!"

The girl fainted and had not recovered when her father came home a few minutes later and found her on the cabin floor. He at once applied remedies to revive her. She soon recovered, but could collect her wits only enough to utter three words, "Did he hoot?"

"Did what?" puzzled her father. "Did he hoot?" reiterated the girl.

"Did who hoot?" asked the perplexed man.

Just then the big owl boomed from his tree "Too hoot! Too hoot!" Frazier was so overjoyed at the solution of the mystery, he resolved to commemorate the episode by calling the place "Did-he-hoot?"

And this has since become altered, as things will, to "Tidioute."

SOURCE:  Page(s) 267-269: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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