A POSSIBLE ORIGIN OF THE NAME "STONE ARABIA"

The following account was written by Britta Schuelke Kling, 416 Shore View Lane, Leucada, CA 92024, 15 September, 1997, and given to Herman Witthoft, 141 Hudson Ave., Chatham, NY 12037:

My mother found the following spellings in a church in the Mohawk Valley, as far as we know the old Stone Church: Steen Arabia, Steen RABBI, Stein Raby, Stein repi, Ston rabi, and Ston raby. "Steen" is the Palatine dialect word, and "Stein" the German word for "stone."

She also noted the stone fences separating the fields around Stone Arabia, New York, and remembered seeing the same kind of thing in the Palatinate (the English name for the Pfalz, one of the States in Germany). This led her to speculate that the name Stone Arabia might have evolved from the words Steine (Pronounced "stoina" in the local Palatine dialect) meaning stones, and Riegel (pronounced "reegle"), literally a bolt as in a door-latching bolt, but locally applied to the rows of piled up fieldstones.

So immigrants from the Palatinate settling in the Mohawk Valley (the Palatines) may have talked about their "Stoina Riegel", which eventually became attached to the village and transliterated into English as "Stone Arabia".

Further evidence is from a Palatine dialect version "Schtee rasseln" for "Steinriegel", which in another version yet, could come out as "Schtei rassla". The double "s" in German is often, especially in older writings, written as a single letter that resembles the Greek letter beta, which would look like the letter "B" to someone not familiar with German handwriting. Thus, reference to stone fences as "Schtee rasseln" or "Schtei rassla" may have become "Steen rabi" or some of the other variants with the root spelling of "rab".

An article in "The Palatiner" of August, 1954 under the title "From Whence Came the Name Stone Arabia", offers a clue from the Hudson Valley. In a patent dated 19 October 1668, a parcel of land is described as "lying on the east side of the North River and stretching along the river from the second to the third spring which runs over to the west side of the river straight into the woods up to the hills". In a lease dated 3 May 1670, reference is made to this land described as "lying over against the long island" and named Steen Raby. A later sale of the farm on the east side of the Hudson referred to the bordering farm as "Stone Arabia". Captain John Schuyler described a journey to Canada in 1698 with the words, "went from Albany and came to Stony Arabia 8 miles up the river." These references are to Stony Arabia on the site of present-day Lansingburg or North Troy, which is also the Stein Raby at which an outpost of 40 men was stationed in 1710. It is possible that the earlier Hudson Valley name Stone Arabia was transferred to the Mohawk Valley.

In summary, there are early names beginning with several versions clearly identifiable as the German word for "stone" combined with the word Rabi or Raby in the earliest versions. The "a" was apparently added only later to make Arabia. So there seems a fair possibliity that the original settlers may have been referring to rocky land in New York state to the rocky ridges in the landscape of their native villages.

Table of Contents, Schaffer

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