1690s, name of an Indian tribe in south-central Pennsylvania, probably from some Iroquoian language and sometimes said to mean "people of the cabin pole;" later a place in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
A characteristic type of covered wagon built there is called Conestoga wagon by 1750 (about three years before the last of the Conestoga Indians were massacred), but it already was an established term, as the first reference is to the name of a Philadelphia tavern, and probably originally it meant the type of wagon farmers used on the road from the city to Conestoga. It seems to have become a popular term in the 1830s to describe the "land ship" used by U.S. pioneers headed west. Also a breed of horses (1824) and a type of boot and cigar (see stogie).
updated on November 18, 2018