The name has evolved over the years, likely a misspelling of "occasion"
When Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" he might just have been talking about Hockessin.
Earlier this week, Hockessin Village Design Review Advisory Committee chairman Cindy Gamble – not a Delaware native – said she enjoys reading the state archives at the public library for fun and to learn more about the region.
During a recent trip, Gamble uncovered a pamphlet called, "The Old Hollingsworth Plantation," written in 1961 by C.A. Weslager, a native Pennsylvanian who joined Du Pont in 1937 and eventually became one of Delaware's most renowned historians.
While the pamphlet is largely concerned with the history of the Hollingsworth Plantation, Weslager mentions a road on a map from 1749 referring to "the Public Road leading to the Occasian Meeting House."
Weslager then details how the word "Occasian" evolved on various documents, ranging from "Ocasson" in 1734 to "Ockessian" in 1808.
Eventually, the letter "H" was added to the beginning, a common English speech habit according to Weslager.
Weslanger also calls into question the alleged Lenape Indian origins of the name Hockessin, which according to Wikipedia is an estimation of the Lenape word "Hokesa," meaning "pieces of bark."
"You can really see the whole idea of the name shaping up in the 1740's," Gamble said. "It keeps changing in variation."
A section of the pamphlet also details the pronunciation of the name, adding that the emphasis is on the second syllable as in "occasion," which is not exactly the way it is pronounced by locals today.
Another paragraph claims that a store account book from the 1770's has the word spelled and pronounced as "Okeshion."
"I never knew this – I never had any clue about this," Gamble said with a laugh. "Sometimes it's difficult."
Hockessin can trace its roots as a settled region as far back 1688, with the first Roman Catholic Church in the state established there in 1790.