The Naming of Boeuf River

The Naming of Boeuf River: as written in “By the Boeuf with Beth,” ca., 1963

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana; 02 Feb 1963, Sat  •  Page 5

….Do you know how Boeuf River got its name? Or, have you been like me and though the French word for beef sounded pretty ritzy and appropriate too, with the herds of cattle that drink of its water and seek out its cool, refreshing shade in the hot summer. Today that seems logical, but it isn’t the authentic reason for the name of Boeuf.

I’ve been curious to know the real reason ever since I’ve mown Boeuf River. This week I searched for an answer and discovered some fascinating history about the river and how it got its name. As early as 1685, reference was made to the Boeuf and later in 1690 it was referred to as Riviere des Boeufs and Riviere aux Boeufs

Instead of cows coming to the river for water, I learned that herds of buffalo were in the area and no doubt used the river for their watering place. Early French explorers called buffalo, boeuf sauvage. William A. Read, Ph.D., LSU, in his book “Louisiana-French,” has defined boeuf sauvage as buffalo or American bison.

He further relates, “so a river named aux Boeufs is clearly proved by the context to be the equivalent of “Buffalo River.” Another historian referred to the river as “Ox River.” Writing in 1816, the word ox was probably more appropriate after the herds of buffalo were killed out in 1803 to 1807...

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana
02 Feb 1963, Sat  •  Page 5

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