What the Name Ossining Means


The Democratic Register
March 2nd, 1901

As we have time and again been asked for information as to the derivation and meaning of the name Ossining, which is to be our village name, we give it now for the benefit of all.

The name is of Indian origin. Its meaning and derivation were given by Henry M. Schoolcraft, in 1844, at the request of General Aaron Ward, an old Sing Singer, and at the time Member of Congress from this district.

We are told that the word Ossin, in the Chippeway language, signifies a stone, that Ossinee or Ossineen, is the plural for stone. This etymology was accepted, and, in May 1845, when our town was taken from Mount Pleasant, it received the name of Ossin-sing. In March, 1846, it was changed, by dropping the third “s”, and made to read Ossin-ing, and still later the hyphen was omitted.

The name of the village has a more ancient origin and use. In the early part of the seventeenth century this locality was occupied by a tribe of the Mohegan Indians, know as “Sint Sincks”. They owned the territory as far north as the Croton River, then call the “Kitchewan”, the tribe inhabiting above this steam being the ”Kitchawongs”.

An Indian village occupied the present site of Sing Sing, and bore the name Sink Sink. The kil was called “Sint-Sinck” or at least it is so written on a map, which bears the date 1609.

In or about the year 1680 a patent was granted by the British Crown to one Vredryck Flypsen, or as afterward written, Frederick Philipse, permitting him “to freely buy” the district of country extending from Spuyten Duyvel Creek northward to the Croton River.

In the course of five or six years he secured the whole region specified. The last purchase of lands from the Indians was made August 24th, 1685, being the “tract or parcel of land commonly called Sinck Sinck”.

Frederick Philipse first spelled the name as two words “Cinque Singte” and afterward as one word, with the same letters but without the second capital.

Thus it is seen the stream, the tribe, and their original village, all were called by the name, the sound of which is expressed in various renderings above cited, and which the present name perpetuates. It will be found variously written on old maps and in ancient documents – Cinque Singte, Sink Sink, Cinquesingte, Sinck Sinck, Sin Sinct, Sint Sinck and Sin-Sing.

This is the only village in the world that bears this musical name, but Sing Sing by and other name would be better off. That’s what there is “in a name”.