Odd and old place names on maps are soon forgotten once their usefulness is at an end.
Having in front of me a map of Indian Reservations in Kansas, 1856, I noticed somewhere near the center the place name “Coffechiqui.”
The name is obviously Indian, but search as I might, I could not come up with an exact match. That is when I searched variation of the spelling and came up with Cofachique, Cofachiqui, Coffechiqui, and even Cofitachequi. They are all variations of the name whose origin is Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.” In 1540 she greeted Hernando DeSoto with pearls from the Savannah River. Her kindness was not returned. He kidnapped her.
What is in a name?
The Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter from Iola, Kansas gives credit to a distant namesake, an Osage Chief by the name Cofachique who helped early settlers.
The truth of this statement is obscure. Cofachique, the Indian chief, if he existed would have been in Kansas in 1856, a gap of more than three hundred years from DeSoto in Georgia. If the name passed down and tribal tales continued the memory, it is not likely that Chief Cofachique would accomodate white settlers since DeSoto kidnapped Georgia’s Cofitachequi.
Then again, stories often change in the retelling.
Cofachique was situated along the Neosho River near the present-day city of Iola. Iola wasn’t there at the time and the place, two log cabins and a couple of lean-tos built by James Barbee and family, was visited by the Reverend Cyrus R. Rice who stayed there for a summer in 1856 and called it “Cofachiqui”. This was a time before civic organizations took on the responsibility of welcoming one to “Cofachiqui” so who knows how Reverend Rice arrived at the spelling. But, the Reverend did give credit to an “Indian Princess” who we have to assume she was Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.”