Wonders of the Lowlands by L.J. DuPre - Excerpt:
“About twenty years ago Elijah Cheek, who during the late war sought the Chief Magistracy of Arkansas at the hands of President Lincoln, was
engaged in constructing a plank road from Mound city, five miles above Memphis to Marion, the capital of Crittenden County, ten miles west of
Memphis. In making excavations and embankments Mr. Cheek discovered strangely shaped bricks of which specimens were sent to the writer of
this memoir. They were made of grayish clay nine by 12 inches in width and length and four inches thick. Mr Cheek supposed from the number of
ruins which he found every fe rods along the route of this old military road that Spaniards, when they held the country, built palaces every where
and grew enormously rich by cultivating the lowlands. He finally accepted the conclusion, after hearing a curious recitation of mound builder's
history written by the late Cornelias Mathews of New York that the old military road was not the product of modern but of ancient skill and toil. He
then saw how the ridge it traverses is artificial, how it is wider where the richest mound builder built his domicile and how it is true that these
people lifted up in the lowlands not only countless canals and aguadas, but mounds and dug count-absolutely created, by uplifting the earth that
constituted them, broad farms of hundreds and even thousands of acres.
We of modern times are boastful of the triumphs of engineering skill the bridges rivers upheaves levees and builds railways. Thee mound builders
achieved mightier tasks and constructed road beds that stagger credulity and dug canals infinitely more serviceable than railways every where in
the lowlands. Floods ruinous to civilization and wealth were rendered by them wholly impossible. Canals were not only the cheapest agencies of
commerce, but the area of water service exposed to the action of the sun's rays was not materially lessened, as would occur if levees could effect
their purpose and wail in the river. No such changes in climatic or hygrometrical laws resulted as would reader, by producing wet and dry
seasons, the successful cultivation of cotton impossible. These mound builders were wiser than we. They cultivated the lowlands, first regulating
the distribution of water, and making the country healthful by this useful system of drainage; and then doubtless there were at Memphis, as at St.
Louis and Loisville, and other points designated by remains of the mound builders greatest works, magnificent cities.”
In estimating the period at which these people occupied the Mississippi Valley, Mr. Du Pre bases his calculations on the fact that the ruins of their
work are not found lower down the river than at a a distance of 325 miles from its mouth. As the Mississippi makes land at the rate of nearly a mile
in eight years, it would follow that a period of about 3000 years must have elapsed since the city was built at the (then) mouth of the river , the
present site of Natchez, Miss. The statement is made by Du Pre as follows: “The river has grown 325 miles in length since the mound builders
ceased to follow its curse downward from the Lake Superior copper mines to the Mexican Gulf and thus the conclusion is deduced that quite 3000
years have elapsed since the people known as mound builders utterly disappeared.”
Blue Mounds, Wisconsin Blue Mounds
Blue Mound, a famous hill, at the western boundary of Dane County, is located twenty-four miles west of Madison, on the old Military Road built
in 1835 from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien. There are two of these mounds, the West Blue Mound in Iowa County, 1,716 ft. in elevation, and
the East Blue Mound in Dane County. Near the base of the former nestles the village of Blue Mounds, the earliest settled locality in Dane
County (1826). The West Blue Mound is a landmark which can be seen from a distance of fifty or more miles.
David Dale Owen, the geologist, wrote of the Blue Mounds in 1839 :
"These isolated and towering mounds, so conspicuous a feature of the landscape of Wisconsin, are evidence of the denuding action to which,
under the crumbling hand of time, the surface of our globe is continually subjected, and which the more durable siliceous masses of these hills
of flint have been enabled to partially resist."
These peaks, originally known as the "Smokey Mountains," take their name from the bluish or smoky haze which is often seen surrounding the
summit of the larger
The Winnebago Indians, who camped and hunted in the prairie and woodland region near these mounds in the twenties and thirties of the last
century, believed that the Blue Mound was a favorite retreat of Wakanda, the Earthmaker. Upon the top of this mound he often seated himself to
ponder over his work of creation and to view the activities of his children, the redmen. When thus engaged, he smoked his great pipe, the
clouds of smoke rising from its bowl en shrouded the top of the mound. When these smoke clouds spread out evenly over the crest of the peak,
Earthmaker was in a peaceful humor, but when they rose straight upward he was restless or angry.
Part way down the slope was Wakanda's spring, and near it were outcroppings of flinty rock from which Indian ar rows and axes were shaped.
Here he often sat throughout the years while the Indians were still inhabiting this region. Since they have left it, he no longer visits Blue Mound,
but the smoke clouds may yet be seen, a reminder of his former presence.
Boscobel, Wisconsin Mounds
Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tokyo, Japan
Wednesday, June 28, 1961
Ancient Indian Cemetery Found
Prairie du Chien, WI (UPI) Wisconsin archeologists have unearthed an Indian cemetery whose age experts estimated at between 1,500 and 2,500
Dr. Joan Freeman of Madison told a state historical society meeting Saturday the graveyard was found in Richland County about five miles
northeast of Boscobel, WI
Note by M.S.: This was on the farm that Brad Sutherland's (my husband) grandparents lived . Homer and Opal Merwin. Right on the
Richland/Crawford line on Crawford county side of the Wisconsin River. Approximately 200 yards off Hwy 60 right along Knapp's Creek. Nothing
was mentioned to the locals as to what was found...including the land owners..but locals say that artifacts were taken out.
Braxdon, Wisconsin Mounds
Weekly Wisconsin | Milwaukee, Wisconsin |
Saturday, July 03, 1886 | Page 6
BRAXDON, Wis., June 25.— Rev. Stephen Peet.of Clinton, Wis., the eminent antiquarian, recently surveyed the Indian mounds near Dtley. Mr.
Peet has made a special study of American antiquities and is employed by the government to investigate these mounds. Some of the Utley
mounds are peculiar to that section being in the form of a rattlesnake several hundred feet long with the rattles on the tails clearly denned. His
theory of these mounds is that they were the burial place of long since extinct tribes and that the different forms are to designate different clans.
Brookfield, Wisconsin Mounds
Waukesha Freeman – Waukesha Wisconsin
Thursday, May 31, 1906
Excerpt From 'Things from long Ago'
Brookfield- Important groups of mounds on Showrman place- sadly invaded- some of them dug into by frmer boys in a former day, bones and
pottery taken out. Village sites and Indian burial places located by Arch. Soc. At various points in this town
Burlington, Wisconsin Mounds
Racine Journal Times – Racine Wisconsin - Wednesday, May 23, 1951 - Mysterious Extinct Tribe Left 20,000 Mounds in Wisconsin
More than 20,000 Indian burial mounds exist in Wisconsin, including a number in Mound Cemetery in Racine.
There probably are more of the ancient burial mounds in Wisconsin than anywhere else in the country. Many have been excavated and their
Indian effects preserved in local museums. Some other mounds were used only for ceremonial or lookout purposes. The mounds vary in size.
Many are more than 200 feet in length.
Left Effigy Mounds - Effigy mounds, representing deer, buffalo, birds, turtles and other wild life, are found around nearly all the southern
Wisconsin lakes. Unusual specimens are found on the grounds of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. There are others at Lake View Bluff at
Hudson, in Wyalusing State Park, Beloit College Campus, Riverside park at Cassville, Delevan Lake Assembly Grounds, around
Lake Koshkonong (Hoard's golf course uses mounds for bunkers), Wild Rose, Webster and Aztalan Mound Park, three miles east
of Lake Mills.
Little is known about the Mound Builders except that the central part of North America was inhabited at one time by a people who had emerged to
some extent from the darkness of savagery and had acquired certain domestic arts and practices some well defined lines of industry. Ohio
roughly was the center of the Mound Builders civilization and most of the mounds were conical in shape and when opened up contained human
skeletons. Others were in the form of truncated pyramids-square or rectangular at the base and flat on the top.
Opened Racine Mounds - Ethnologists divide Mound Builders in eight districts. The Wisconsin District's distinguishing features are the effigy
mounds. Only two or three effigy mounds in Ohio and two in Georgia are the only ones not in the Wisconsin District, which includes the northeast
corner of Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas as well as Wisconsin. Bird effigies are by far the most numerous.
Dr. P. R.Hoy of Race and a Dr. I A. Lapham did extensive research in the Racine area, including 14 in the Mound Cemetery groups. Most
contained more than one skeleton and one had seven. Bodies were regularly buried in a sitting or partly kneeling posture, facing the east, with
the legs placed under them. They were covered with a bark or log roofing, over which the mound was built. Dr. Hoy found no evidence of
stratification or additions to the mounds.
Other mounds were found in the Town of Caledonia, Town of Raymond, Town of Norway on the west shore of Wind Lake and on the
bank of the Fox River near Burlington.
One of the finest collections of Mound Builders' relics known was that of Frederick S. Perkins of Burlington.. Part of this collection was sent to
the National Museum and part to the Wisconsin State Historical Society.
Racine Journal News – Racine Wisconsin - Wednesday, April 2, 1919 - Eighth Grade Pupils of the McMynn School Correspond with New
York Scholars: Excerpt:
My name is Lillian Morrow and I will tell you a little about the cemeteries of Racine. This may seem a queer subject to write about but our largest
cemetery is very interesting because it was formerly an Indian burying ground. We have three cemeteries of which Mound cemetery is the oldest
and most interesting because of the Indian mounds in it.
A man who made a study of Indian mounds opened one of these mounds and in it he found several skeletons in sitting posture, facing the east
where the sun rises. The skeletons were in quite good condition. The bodies had been buried in hollow basins with a bark roof over head.
There are mounds along the 'plank roads' to Burlington also. These were carefully excavated and they also contained skeletons and
vases. In one was burled an oak tree stump in which they counted two hundred rings, showing it was two hundred years old. We also have mound
in Wisconsin shaped like birds, foxes and other animals. There are only two other states that have these, Georgia and Ohio. The largest mound
is near Fox River, it is 16 feet high and twenty feet in diameter.
Delafield, Wisconsin Mounds
Waukesha Freeman – Waukesha Wisconsin - Thursday, May 31, 1906 - Excerpt From 'Things from long Ago'
Delafield – Village site near N.E. Side of Lake Nagowicka.
Ixonia, Wisconsin Mounds
Watertown Chronicle Watertown Wisconsin - Wednesday, August 11, 1847 - Mounds in Ixonia
We have heard and read much of the ancient mounds in Wisconsin; but never had an opportunity of examine any of them until one day last week.
These are situated upon the farm of r. Joseph C. (Rugs?), a few rods north of Rock River, in the town of Ixonia, in the county. We have never
seen any mention made of them in any publication on this subject, and know not how they will compare as to magnitude with the generality of
those to be found in the territory; but to us they proved full of interest.
These mounds are between thirty and forty in number, and are situated upon a hill some eighty rods long, that has every appearance of being
partially artificial - The hill rises about one hundred feet above the surrounding county; its sides are unusually smooth, being marked by some of
the inequalities of surface peculiar to all natural ridges; while its top is gently crowning, and of uniform height, except where it is dotted by the
These appearances go far to prove that the hill is part the work of art. But this idea is strengthened by another circumstance. - The
predominating soil through that region is a sandy loam, as well upon the highlands as the lowlands. But upon the hill in question, the soil to the
depth of from two to four feet , is a coarse gravel. Under this coat of gravel, as has been proved by examination, in a number of places, the same
stratum of loom is found which prevails in every other part of the neighborhood. A short distance north of the hill, is a low piece of ground, the
peculiar make of which affords still farther evidence in support of this supposition. It is the general opinion of all who have examined the two
places, that the gravel upon the one was taken from the other.
The larger of these mounds are about forty feet in diameter at their base, and some ten feet high. There are a number of this class, though the
most of them are smaller. But one of them has been opened and that was done for the purpose of converting it into a potato hole! This was two
or three years ago. After digging eight or ten feet, a large number of human bones were found, in an excellent state of preservation. They were
thrown out, without much are, to make room for the potatoes, and most of them have remained there ever since. Those skulls, however, which
had suffered the most from the ravages of time, have been carried aways, as have also some of the other bones.
An examination of these bones, however superficial, must satisfy every one that they belonged to a race of beings of much larger stature than the
present generation. When covered with muscles, and flesh, and skin, their owners must have stood seven feet or more in their moccasins. We
brought away the lower jaw bone of one of these aborginal giants, for to a giant only could it have belonged, as all will concede upon an
examination of it. It may be seen at this office.
The bottom of this mound was nearly as hard as solid rock. The earth of which it was made, had undergone some process of pounding or of
baking, which rendered it almost impervious to the pick ax. Upon this floor all the bones excepting those belonging to one person were found. The
bones of this person reposed upon a solid earthen seat, extending the whole width of the mound, about eighteen inches high and of the same
width. This seat was composed of the same material as the floor and was quite as hard. Who the individual was who occupied this evident seat of
honor must of course be wholly left to conjecture; he was probably, however, one of the leading men of the nation or trible. We did not learn that
anything in the shape of war implements, beads or other trinkets was found with the bones. And the only thing of the kind we saw in the vicinity
were rude flint hatchets, a number of which, we were told, had been found in the immediate neighborhood.
The size of some of these mounds, and the large number of them, certainly render them an object of curiosity, even in a country abounding with
so vast a number of antiquities as Wisconsin does, and would well repay a visit to them by any person living in this part of the country. -
LaCrosse, Wisconsin Mounds
Daily Argus And Democrat | Madison, Wisconsin | Friday, July 20, 1860 | Page 2 A Past Generation.
In turning up some of the Indian mounds near La Crosse, it is found that the "giants in those clays" bad teeth two inches long, and thigh
bones three feet in length ; one of the skeletons showed that the original was killed with an arrow having a point five inches long, while another
was struck in the head with tho blade of a
copper hatchet, 1.} inches wide at the edge and 2 inches long.
Eau Claire Leader – Eau Claire, Wisconsin -Saturday, November 16, 1912 -Five Bodies of Ancient Race Near La Crosse -
La Crosse, WI – November 15- Fifty skeletons believed to be a part of mysterious tribesmen of a prehistoric race have been unearthed by a party
of La Cross state normal school graduates on the farm of Alois White, a few miles south of this city. The skeletons were taken from five mounds
which were excavated. Among the significant discoveries made by the students was the uncovering of a number of copper arrow heads and two
or three copper knives. This, it is claimed, must dispel the popular belief that the mound builders antedated the whites. Investigation shows there
are three distinct types of mounds, specimens of which are found in Wisconsin. The conical mound is most common, the pyramid shaped tumuli
and the so-called effigy mounds, the latter usually in the shape of some animal. The size of the skeletons, and the weight and thickness of
the bones indicate this early race was composed of giants. Most of the skeletons were more than six feet long and the bones are
much heavier than those of the modern white men.
Manitowoc Pilot – Manitowoc Wisconsin - Friday August 31, 1860 - A Past Generation –
In turning up some of the Indian mounds near LaCrosse, it is found that the “giants in those days” had teeth two inches long, and thigh
bones three feet in length; one of the skeletons showed that the original was killed with an arrow having a point five inches long while another
was struck in the head with the blade of a copper hatchet 1 ½ inches wide at the edge and two inches long.
Lisbon, Wisconsin Mounds
Waukesha Freeman – Waukesha Wisconsin
Thursday, May 31, 1906
Excerpt From 'Things from long Ago'
Lisbon – Indications of a an aboriginal village site near Sussex. Stone and copper implements found.
Madison Wisconsin Mounds
Madison The Center of An Ancient Settlement - Elaborate System of Defensive Earthworks- Fort Covering Fifteen Acres- Burial Place of
the Strange People
Evidences of a Terrific Combat - Reference: The weekly Wisconsin, Milwaukee Wisconsin - Saturday, August 15, 1891
Madison Wi -Aug 9, 1891 - The largest prehistoric work in this state heretofore described, and of which the Smithsonian Institute has published a
complete report, is Fort Aztalan, near Lake Mills, so named from the pyramidal mounds found there, which greatly resemble those found in
Mexico. But without doubt the most stupendous and elaborate system of defensive works in the state are found in the vicinity of this city.
The celebrated mounds of Ohio and Indiana can bear no comparison either in size, design or the skill displayed in their construction with these
gigantic and mysterious monuments of earth- erected we know not by whom, and for what purpose we can only conjecture. That the unknown
race was semi-civilized is certain and art of of a high type flourished among them. Carving in stone, especially was brought to a high degree of
perfection. The art of weaving and dyeing cloth was known and practiced, the color used being invariably red.
Madison was in ancient days the center of a teeming population, numbering not less than 200,000 souls. It is situated on the northern end of a
chain of five lakes, between Lakes Mendota and Monona and extending south to Lake Wingra. It is built on a chain of hills which slope gently
down to the water's edge or end in high bluffs. This was the mound builder's paradise in bygone ages, and the region has lot none of its natural
On the land of George Catterson, seven miles south of Madison is a prehistoric fort. It occupies the summit and southeast side of a huge hill
overlooking Lake Kegonsa. It is bounded on the east by a marsh and the cliffs of the lake on the south. It is undoubtedly a strong position for
defense. The fort is square in shape. Its four outer walls are each 400 feet in length and from the center of each side high walls, 300 feet long,
stretch out. Inside the fort, about 10 feet from the first line of breastworks, extends a second, parallel to the others. In this line gates were left in
the corners and these were protected by round mounds, the tops of which show evidences of fire, for a few inches below the surface are found
quantities of charcoal. In the center are three mounds in a direct line, connected with each other by a thick bank of earth. The tops of these
mounds are sunken, showing that they served the purpose of “caches”.being hollow, but in the lapse of ages the tops have caved in.
Scattered about inside the second line are six rows of earthworks about 20 feet long. A group of seventeen burial mounds occupied the northeast
corner of the fort, arranged in the shape of a turtle. Two of these were opened and interesting finds made. In the first mound opened a layer of
forest mold six inches in thickness was first removed; then seven feet of yellow clay was penetrated and a thick bed of ashes and charcoal, in
which were scattered arrow heads of flint, and pottery prettily ornamented in various patterns was brought to light. Below this was a foot of clay so
hardened by the fire as to turn the edge of a spade. Beneath this was a RUDELY MADE COFFIN of large flat stones probably brought from the
lake. Upon being opened this coffin was found to contain a large sized skeleton in a sitting posture, the earth within the coffin having held it in
shape. The hardened clay above prevented the least moisture from entering, thus preserving the bones in fairly good condition. At the side of the
body was found a curiously carved pipe, in shape resembling a human head with peculiar characters rudely cut on the sides. Near the right hand
was an ax of banded slate in the form of an ancient double-edged battle ax, a number of arrow heads, and a gorget of slate. Near the feet was a
jar of pottery, which was filled with a black mold. This was unfortunately broken by one of the workmen while handling a spade. Another mound a
few feet away contained a number of arrow heads and two axes of the usual grooved form, but no bones. In a mound opened in the western
corner of the fort was found a square implement of slate, very highly polished, with a hole drilled through the center.
Altogether, the fort occupies about fifteen acres. It is now covered with a second growth of trees, but that there was an older growth is shown by
the stumps of former forest giants found here and there. Outside the fort the ground has been plowed, and it is shown that there stood the village
under the shelter of its walls. Pottery, arrow heads, broken axes and flint spades are found here in protrusion, as well as great numbers of iron
ore. Indeed, the whole vicinity shows the presence of iron ore in large quantities.
The burial place of the town was situated on the land now owed by William Colloday, where there are seventeen burial mounds within the
defenses. A few feet, below the surface of one of these mounds a round implement of stone, around which a slight groove was made, running
completely around both ways, thus dividing it into quarters, was found. Upon it are rude characters resembling bird tracks. A highly-polished, pear-
shared instrument of iron ore, with a very small groove at the lesser end, was also uncovered.
A short distance from the fort, to the northeast, on the farm of Erick Dierson are found STRANGE OVENS OR FIREPLACES. All over the field can
be noticed stones laid in circles, about three feet in diameter. These, upon being opened, show a cavity about 3 feet deep, in the shape of an
inverted cone, and the sides are carefully walled up with flat stones. Around the edge, on the top of the ground; a space of about 6 inches was
left bare. This ran around the mouth, and outside of it the circle of stones mentioned was placed. Inside of these fireplaces were large quantities
of charcoal. The owner of the land also found seventeen pounds of lead ore in one of these ovens, of which there are about fifty. On this piece of
land, on the banks of the Yahara River, is a large mound in the shape of a war club. This mound was partly opened and was found filled with
particles of lead ore. The mud on the river banks was also covered with fine particles of lead ore, which shine like diamonds in the sunlight. All the
works described are associated with the people of the fort, as are undoubtedly the work of the mound builders.
Following the Yahara River northward to its outlet to Lake Monona, the stream narrows down to a width of only a few yards. Breastworks were
erected on each side of the banks, thus making it impossible for a party to gain an entrance into that lake even should they escape the fort
further down. Signal stations were established on each hill of the range, so that word could be sent from Stoughton to Westport, a distance of
thirty miles in twenty minutes. One of these stations was situated on the high hill overlooking and separating Lake Wingra and Lake Monona. The
ground is baked hard from the watch fires. Chipped flints, a few arrow heads and pieces of pottery were found lying a few inches beneath the
In opening a new road through the hill a landslide occurred, exposing a hollow place about six feet square, which contained the skeleton of a
person who must have been a giant in his day. Beneath the hand was an ax of syenite, finished with great skill and very nicely polished and
grooved, which weighed five pounds. Further along the hill are SIX BURIAL MOUNDS
This ends the line of prehistoric works on this side of the city, leaving an open space of over two miles.
Cross the Yahara on the northern limits of the city the line of fortifications again appears. The breastworks run parallel to the lake and are about
200 feet in length. A large number of modern Indian graves are situated on the outside of the walls. Inside the fortifications rises a sacrificial
mound to the height of 15 feet. Upon excavating this mound there was found an altar built of rough stones, on top of and around which were
immense quantities of charcoal and ashes and a pipe shaped object of slate. A short distance to the north and seemingly guarding the works, is
the effigy of an elk over 100 feet in length, in front of which small round mounds of sand were placed, but when opened they were found to
contain nothing of any interest. One hundred yards from this spot was a pottery manufactory, which, judging from the number of fragments lying
around, must have supplied the great part of the country. The lake at this point throws up great quantities of fresh water clams. The shells were
ground to powder and mixed with sand and clay found on the banks, and this, when baked hard, was formed into vases, jars and other utensils,
many of which are of beautiful patterns and exhibit a high artistic taste on the part of the designer. The soil in this vicinity is almost completely
covered with fragments of pottery. The effigy of some animal bearing a very good resemblance to an elk is situated a few hundred yards
northward, in front of which are two small mounds a foot high and three feet across, made entirely of sand.
MADISON WISCONSIN - Horse Hill
Reference: 18 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 18, No. 1
At Madison, on the south side of Lake Mendota, within the limits of the present village of Shorewood is Eagle
Heights, a wooded hill. The greater part of this hill is owned by the University of Wisconsin. On its top are three
prehistoric Indian mounds, one of conical and two of linear form.
In the early thirties this hill was known to the local Win nebago as Shohetaka, meaning "horse hill." This eminence
was a sacred place, or shrine, to which the local Indians went to fast and dream and to receive the "blessings" (magic power) of a spirit horse which on misty days was
to be seen in the hazy clouds rising above the hill. This horse did not always remain in a stationary position, but was some- times seen to move and was heard to
MADISON WISCONSIN'S FOX BLUFF and THE THUNDERBIRDS
Fox's Bluff, an eminence on the north shore of the same beautiful lake, was in those days known by the Winnebago
to be a roosting place of the Thunderbirds, or Thunderers, on their long nights from their nesting places on the
high mountains on the shore of Lake Superior. Their presence on this hilltop was known to the Indians, living on the
other shores of the lake, by the bright flashes of lightning that could be seen in that direction. By counting these the
Indians knew about how many Thunderers there were in that particular flight. These lightning- flashes came and went as the birds opened and shut their eyes. When
the entire sky was lighted at the same time it was a sign that all of the Thunderers were awake. This hill was also a place of sanctity, and only a few Indians dared to
In an examination of the Wisconsin State Hospital grounds attention was first given to the so-called “Eagle Mound”. This mound resembles an
eagle with expanded wings, and is perfectly formed. The body measures 100 feet in length and the expanded wings 300 on each side of the
body. The tail is 40 feet wide and the beak is 15 feet in length. Three similar bird mounds are situated in the immediate vicinity. Near the left wing
of the “Eagle Mound” is a gracefully formed mound in the shape of a deer with branching horns and further to the north are bear, squirrel and
turtle mounds and other in the shape of animals now extinct.
Works of defense crown the summit of the hill 100 yards further on, and a large number of burial mounds are found there. There is evidence of its
occupation by two different and entirely separate races. While the one erected mounds over the dead and placed them in a sitting posture facing
the east, the other buried them a foot or two below the surface, where the caving in of the lake bank every year exposed them to view.
In the open field, on Lake Mendota's shore, between the Yahara River and ex-governor Farwell's house, was once the battlefield in olden time. To
the north extended an almost impassable marsh, while on the southern side a steep hill rises up from the lake shore 150 feet in height. On the
topmost point stands a lookout mound, from whose summit one can command a view of the country for miles around. Long lines of fortifications
extend along the lake shore, rising tier above tier, almost to the summit, one being over 1300 feet in length. Crowning the top are two altar
mounds from when rose the smoke of sacrifices offered to the gods. The ground is baked as hard as a rock from these fires.
SIGNS OF A BLOODY FIGHT
In bygone ages a terrific combat took place upon this open field. This place is strewn with the debris of the battle, a person living near by having
picked up hundreds of arrow heads and many axes. Every ax picked up is broken. After the fight an excavation was made near the sore about 10
feet square, which after being lined with a peculiar substance, served the purpose of a huge coffin. In this mortuary chamber were deposited the
dead. The ground near the pit is covered with flint chips, showing that weapons were manufactured on the spot to deposit with the fallen, who until
this year reposed in peace. Many skeletons were found in the bank and wherever a cave-in occurred from the encroachment of the waves more
were exposed to view. This spring the chamber was reached and exposed, but the wind in a week's time had almost choked it with sand. A high
mound 600 feet long was erected over the dead. A similar one, horseshoe shaped, measures 1,100 feet in length. It is close beside the one
described and probably contains other victims of the fight. Nearly every skull in good enough preservation to be examined shows marks of
violence, the cleft of the tomahawk or the fracture caused by an arrow, which in one or two instances was found imbedded in the skull.
In the construction of mounds in this vicinity great care was taken to remove even the smallest stone from the material used except when placed
there for a purpose. A tumulus opened on the Wisconsin Hospital grounds showed stones placed in position to form a neat pattern running from
the top to the bottom and beneath this was placed the body. This vicinity gives evidence of a long occupation and a very large population. The
fireplaces showed different strata of cinders and ashes, and the lower the excavations are pushed the ruder the forms of the pottery disclosed.
Calcined bones split to extract the marrow are scattered through the mass.
In the construction of the mounds the earth was brought from long distances and differs entirely in character from the native soil. Stratification was
universally practiced in building. Two forms of burial were employed. Some were buried with their weapons in the ordinary manner, while others
were cremated. In no case were any weapons found with a cremated body, but only ornaments and pottery were placed within the tomb. Some
were provided with rude effigies, while others were buried without them, and the clay firmly placed about the body and burned into a mass nearly
as hard as brick. A number of the peculiar fishlike bones found in the boad of (linipinidonotus grunhilus (?)) a fish extinct, as far as these lakes
are concerned, are frequently found in the mounds here.
MANY IMPLEMENTS OF COPPER
consisting of beads, disks, spears, arrows and axes are found. Some of these appear to have been cast, others are hammered into shape and
contain nuggets of silver, imbedded in the sides. All are tempered by some unknown process. Ornaments of shell are also common, but when dug
out they invariably crumble away. They have the appearance of having been ground, and small holes were drilled through them. Many rare and
wonderful articles of chipped flints are excavated, needles of stone one-half inch in length, with the base a quarter of an inch long, from which a
point of chipped flint as fine as a needle extends. They are very fragile. Articles for drilling holes in pipes and soft stones are found occasionally.
There are flints worked as round as a lead pencil, some straight and others with a variety of bases. A few double-borers were discovered, these
having a place for the hand in the center, while each end was worked into a sharp point.
Fifteen different types of arrow heads were found,among the most important being those used in war. They were made triangular in form and with
serrated edges, and were fitted loosely into a reed. When these projectiles entered the body the first effort would naturally be to attempt to draw
them out, but the loosely fitted head of flint would remain in the wound, the toothed edges working it further and further inward and would
eventually cause death. Another form has the edges beveled, which would give a rotary movement and was an instrument designed to GIVE A
They are in the same form as arrow heads, but have wide blunt tips. The bases are notched for inserting into a handle. All knives discovered are
of fine workmanship. Some are made of Jasper and other fine material. Some of these knives are over nine inches long.
Axes are in two styles; some, long and polished without grooves. Occasionally a unique and beautiful form is met with, some of them so delicate
as to be unfit for service. Pipes are discovered having bowls and are made of baked clay and stone. More rarely are found specimens in which
Catlinite (sacred pipe stone) is the material used. These are often worked into weird and fantastic shapes.
These mounds all belong to a continuous system extending for every fifty miles through the state and two distinct lines cross each other, forming
a huge Saint Andrew's cross, guarded by forts at each corner. While scientific men have long been aware of the existence of these wonderful
works, nothing has been done in the way of obtaining an accurate description or of obtaining a better knowledge of them. Every year the plow is
laying them low, and persons ignorant of their value to the eyes of science are destroying not only the mounds themselves, but also the relics in
them, and in a few years they will have disappeared entirely.
Madison Wisconsin Mounds
Wisconsin Patriot – Madison Wisconsin January 7, 1860 pg.6 - Opening an Ancient Mound Near Madison, Wisconsin
(Report by I. A. Lapham, Esq. To the American Ethnological Society)
Travelers approaching the beautiful city of Madison, the capital of the young state of Wisconsin, by the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad, from
the East, are conveyed across one of the lakes that give so much interest to this charming locality. Looking towards the South, they will find the
lake hounded by a ridge of considerable elevation, the crest of which is serrated by 'a series of ancient monuments of earthwork, the mysteries of
whose origin and nature have not yet been fully found out. Their sharp outline, projected against the sky for a background, with the scattered
trees and shrubs, all reflect in the clear, still water of the lake, render this spot quite conspicuous and beautiful.
On this remarkable ridge, which divides the water of Lake Monona (the third of the series) from Lake Wingra, with its ancient earthworks, a sketch
(Fig 1) and a plot (Fig 2) are given on plate 2. The slopes were steep, especially on the south side; the crest narrow, the soil a loose gravel, (drift
of the geologists,) but slightly compacted with clay or other material. At the highest point, where the two largest mounds are situated, it has an
elevation quite abrupt, of seventy-five feet, upon which the mounds make an addition of ten feet. In some parts, the ridge is covered with groves
of small tress – at others it is naked.
By invitation of George P. Delaplaine, Esq., of Madison, I visited that place on the 1st of June 1859, in company with Prof. J.D. Whitney, the
Geologist, for the purpose of making a survey and exploration of the interesting group of mounds before they should become lost by the progress
of 'improvement' in that direction. Already some of them have been injured, by the opening of roads and by the idle curiosity of persons who have
made slight excavations. It would be fortunate if other landed proprietors would follow the good example of Mr. Delaplaine and preserve an
accurate record of such ancient works as they are about to destroy. Many very interest animal effigies (mounds in the forms of animals) have
already been leveled by the plows, or otherwise injured or effaced.
The peculiar form of this ridge, the nature of the soil and its position between two valleys, exposing it to the drying effect of the winds, render it
peculiarly fitted for the preservation of anything that may have been buried under the mounds. The steep slopes fall away from the base of the
mounds on either side, thus carrying off immediately the falling rain. The earth composing the mound was of fine material, well compacted, and
still further protected by a dense sod of prairie grass and weed; so that very little water could penetrate it; and the depth was such as to exclude
all the destroying effects of frost in the winter. We were therefore convinced that if any of the original mound builders are any where preserved,
we might look for them here; and in this we were not disappointed.
These mounds, as is usual in such groups in Wisconsin, present a variety of forms – among them the circular, oblong, attenuated and animal
shaped. They are situated on the northwest quarter of section twenty-six, in township seven and range none of the government surveys. From
the top of these mounds there is a very fine and extensive view of the country around, suggesting at once the idea that this may have been a sort
of a look out station or sentry post from which to watch the approach of the enemy.
The largest mound on this ridge, the base excavated by us has an oval form, the basal dimensions being seventy and fifty feet; the height ten
feet. It was built upon the convex surface of the ridge, so that the depth of the mound in the middle was a little less than appeared from the
outside. The exploration was commenced on the south-east side by running a horizontal drift from the base towards the centre. This brought us a
little below the original surface.
Our first discovery was the remains of a human skeleton that had been buried about three feet below the top of the mound. The position of this
skeleton was horizontal, the head towards the west. The bones were very much decayed, the teeth and a few of the larger bones being all that
were sufficiently strong to be taken out. At the foot was the skull of a skunk and also a few teeth, and a portion of the jaw of another animal,
apparently a fox. Whether these had been buried with the human body, or had burrowed into the mound on their own account is not easily
determined, though the latter supposition is rendered, probable by the good state of preservation of the skull of the skunk.
As we descended into the mound, the extreme firmness and dryness of the loamy material became apparent, giving strength to our conjecture
and hope that a real mound builder was about to be brought to light; and we wished for some magic power by which he could be re-endowed with
the faculty of speech; that he might reveal the story of his strange and unknown history!
Our work was temporarily arrested by the high wind, which swept with full force over the ridge, and kept the opening we had made involved in a
cloud of fine dust, rendering it almost impracticable to breathe while making excavation. The earth thrown out was quite dry, and in much
indurated masses or clods, though the spring rains had hardly ceased – the material of the mound was mostly the dark colored soil of the prairie,
showing that the surface only had been taken to construct it. At one place, there was a slight layer of gravel, as if a small quantity of that material
had been use when the work had reached that point. At one place, there was a slight layer of gravel, as if a small quantity of that material had
been used when the work had reached that point.
Under the middle of the mound we found the object of greatest interest. An excavation had been made in the original ground, the bottom of which
was paved with rounded stones, embedded in clay. Upon the pavement was placed the body of a man, in a horizontal position, the head towards
the east, the legs and arms folded back. The skeleton ws in a very good state of preservation, most of the bones being found including many of
the smaller ones. The skull was nearly entire, but had been crushed and distorted by the pressure of the superincumbent earth.
As this was clearly a skeleton of one of the honored dead, over whose remains, and for whose memory, the mound was erected, with so much
care and labor, all material facts in relation to it will be of interest, and accordingly I have endeavored to reconstruct the skull from the separate
parts preserved, and have made the drawing of plate 1, figure 1 – Upon a careful comparison with the numerous figures in Morton's Crania
Americana, it will be found that it agrees, in general contour and size, most nearly with that on plate 28 representing the Chippewa. Though it
would be wrong, perhaps, to infer, upon such slight evidence, that the ancient mound builders of Wisconsin were the ancestors of the Chippewas,
yet we may regard it as further proof that they were one and the same with the American race as clearly indicated by Dr. Morton. (Crania Am., pg
About two feet above the skeleton, we found a few fragments of a human skull, but no traces of other bones. They had, doubtless, been casually
thrown upon the mound during the progress of its construction.
Very near the skull was found a gray flint arrow-head and a bone apparently of a bird, which had been wrought into an implement of some
important use, no doubt, to those who made it.
Occasionally fragments of bones and pieces of charcoal, were found at various depths, but no indication of the burning of human or other
sacrifices. Roots of trees or shrubs had penetrated to the very bottom of the mound. While the work was in progress we were visited by numerous
citizens of the city of Madison and the officers and students of the Wisconsin University, many of whom manifested a deep interest in the subject
of American Antiquities.
Besides the mounds referred to in this paper there are numbers of others in the vicinity of the “Four Lakes,” many of them quite interesting on
account of their particular forms, etc. A few of them are described and figured in the 6th volume of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge. It
is hoped that provision will be made by law, for the preservation of at least such as happen to be on the grounds selected for the site of the State
Lunatic Asylum and other public institutions.
Appleton Post-Crescent – Appleton, Wi - Monday, November 14, 1927 - Old Indian Mounds Put to Queer Uses -
A railroad construction crew used mounds now destroyed in Madison as storage cache for blasting powder. One early settler in the state
reported to have buried a box of money in a mound and when he lter forgot just where he had buried it, he was forced to dig up a number of
mounds in the group near his home before he recovered his treasure. Many mounds were rifled by early physicians to obtain skulls or skeletons
for their offices.
Eau Claire Leader – Eau Claire, Wi - Thursday July 15th, 1915 Pg 3 - Indian Mounds are Visited by Students - Madison, WI July 14 –
A successful excursion by students of the University of Wisconsin summer session, was made last Saturday under the direction of Curator
Charles E. Brown of the State Historical Museum to the many Indian Mounds found about the Madison lakes. A number of these excursions are
conducted by the University each summer. The student of Indian remains finds many opportunites for observation near Madison, tributed to the
Winnebago Indians. Wisconsin Indian Mounds are at- There were about Lake Mendota thirty groups of earthworks, most of which age preserved.
The bird effigy on the state hospital lawn at Mendota is the largest mound of its type in Wisconsin. It has a wing spread of 624 feet. The conical
burial mounds at Morris park include some of the largest and finest mounds in this region. The plot of Indian corn hills located there is the only
one now remaining on the shores of Lake Mendota.
McFarland and Madison Mounds
Capital Time, Madison Wisconsin
Friday, May 1, 1942
Brown Tells of Indian Mounds at McFarland
Nine Burial Places on Sanderson Site in “Procession” by Charles E. Brown Director, State Historical Museum
What is acknowledged by Wisconsin archaeologists to be one of the most interesting groups of prehistoric Indian mounds in Dane county is
located on the narrow crest of a high wooded ridge located about one fourth mile west of the village of McFarland and between it and the
Edwards Park shore of Lake Waubesa. The mounds, 9 in number, extend down the length of this north and south ridge in what mound experts
refer to as a “procession.”
Series of Mounds
At the northern end of this line of ancient earthworks there is a linear mound 130 feet long and short distance beyond it another mound of the
same form 81 feet long. Beyond this is a round mound 22 feet in diameter and another linear 104 feet long. Beyond these, in the center of the
group, are a round and an oval mound.
At the southern end of the ridge there is a bar effigy, the only animal shaped mound in the group, and a linear mound 180 feet long. The linear
runs across the ridge crest instead of in line with it. A short distance south of this mound is one of the most curious mounds found in any group in
the Lake Waubesa region. This large linear mound has a large hook at its northern end. Its total length is 326 feet, and its straight part is 272 feet
long. Its unique form has long been a puzzle to archaeologists. None of the linear mounds is ore than 16 feet wide.
This find mound group, then on the T. Lewis property was surveyed for te Wisconsin Archaeological society by the late Dr. W.G. McLachlan of
McFarland in 1914 and was described in a Lake Waubesa report which the state socieity published. Several of the mounds in this group were dug
into in previous years by local relic hunters searching for Indian treasure supposed to have been hidden during the Black Hawk war. They found
only Indian bone re-burials and a flexed burial.
Will Erect Cabin
This ridge group was recently visited by the write and C.H. Sanderson of Madison, the present owner of the site and the land at its base.
Sanderson intends to erect a log cabin residence on the crest and will prserved the ancient mounds. From the crest of this ridge a fine view of
Lakes Waubesa and Monona and the state capital is to be seen to the northwest and of Lake Waubesa and Mud Lake to the south. Sanderson
has planted several hundred pine, spruce and other fir trees on the steep slopes of the ridge thus adding to the beauty of this location.
About a mile south of the ridge at Watcheetcha, on the old Indian trail once running over the site of McFarland and in a southweserly direction
toward Lake Kegonsa, was the locaton in 1829 of the village of the Winnebago Chief Spotted Arm, an Indian leader of considerable note.
A total of 188 mounds in 42 groups were found during the McLachian survey of the lake Waubesa region. A few others have been found since
bringing the total to nearly 200 earthworks. Sanderson is setting a good example in the preservation of Indian mortuary landmarks which it is
hoped that other residents of this part of Dane county will follow.
Mound Builders of Wisconsin Continued on Next Page
The Adena burial rites were a mixture of the old and the new; and the bodies of the ruling class and other
important people were usually sprinkled with RED OCHRE and laid to rest with a variety of artifacts such as flints,
beads, pipes, and mica and copper ornaments. The red ochre aspect of the burials was a practice that extended
back for generations through the Old Copper Culture and all the way back to North Africa's Capsian period. As the
archaeologists have discovered, Adena marabouts were also buried with varying amounts of grave goods -- the
amount indicating either the social inequities in their culture, or perhaps varying degrees of baraka. Tomb goods
included engraved stone tablets (often with predatory bird designs); polished gorgets (throat armor of stones and
copper); pearl beads; ornaments of sheet mica (also found in Maya graves); tubular stone pipes; and bone masks.
Animal masks are common in late Adena sites. In addition to these grave goods the Adena people made a wide
range of stone, wood, bone and copper tools, as well as incised or stamped pottery and cloth woven from
vegetable fibers. *See mounds of Wisconsin
For their "common folk," the Adenas cremated the dead bodies and placed the remains in small log tombs on the
surface of the ground. Virtually all of these graves have been destroyed by nature and later settlement. Therefore,
the more substantial mounds of the ruling class are our only physical records of Adena burials.
Those people were called Talligew (Tallegwi or Allegwi) and have been described as red haired giants.
|Mounds of Wisconsin Pg. One
Exploring the Unknown with
Brad and Mary Sutherland
|Brad and Mary Sutherland
248 Carver Street
Winslow, Illinois 61089
815 367 1006
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Wisconsin - Land of the Dead
"Oh, Wisconsin. beneath your feet is an ocean of bones...."
"They (railroad crews) knocked the top off of the small hill called Butte Des Morts. It was full of skeletons. Tracks were laid across the cut and The
combined bones and rock became the track bed." - a diary description of the 19th century decapitation of a section of "the hill of the dead"(Butte
Des Morts) on the shore of Little Lake Butte Des Morts in Neenah.
The hill is reputed to hold the piled up corpses of Fox Indians killed during a battle against the French and their Indian Allies in the Fox/French
Wars. More likely, the hill had been part of a long standing burial ground and contained the bones of the ancient mound builders. Mounds are
everywhere, their remains may be beneath your feet right as you read this. In the mid to late 19th century countless mounds were plowed over by
farmers. Road crews crushed bones into aggregate for road and railroad beds. It's safe to say that all of Wisconsin's primary roads contain
shattered bits of the bones of the ancient dead.
Ancient Indian Calendar Site found in Wisconsin Rapids
Wisconsin was a major center of ancient religion. It saw man's earliest attempts at metal making and, according to the following article, was the
home of ancient astronomers.
”Prof. James Scherz claims to have discovered an ancient Indian calendar site in a marshy region near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Scherz was
led to the site by aerial photographs taken during a wetlands mapping program. Strange "islands" of higher land seen within the bog were found,
upon terrestrial inspection, to be unusually steep, possibly artificial. Some were round, some four-sided; others were shaped like a fish, a rabbit,
and a snake. [Wisconsin has countless similar "effigy mounds" elsewhere.] Causeways connect some of these so-called islands.
The most interesting features of the islands, however, are prominent rocks and rock cairns. Scherz and an assistant mapped the islands, cairns,
and rocks to determine if any astronomical alignments existed. Sure enough, the solstices and equinoxes were predictable from some of the
alignments. Another alignment provided the site's latitude.The exploration of this site is incomplete, and further information is expected. Quite
possibly, the site is associated with the famous prehistoric copper mining activities which were centered in Wisconsin roughly 3,000 to 7,000 years
ago.” (Murn, Thomas J.; "Portage County Cairns: Wisconsin's Rockhenge," NEARA Journal, 18:50, 1984.)
Another Calendar can be found on Franks Hill near Muscoda Wisconsin
Cambridge - Double Set of Teeth
The eleventh skeleton that has been
dug up in this neighborhood in the last
few years was discovered by A.E.
Morton while he was escavating for his
home on Lake Ripley. The skeleton
was entire and had “the double set of
teeth in the lower jaw”. It measured six
feet three inches from head to the
base of the foot.
Eau Claire Leader, November 27, 1907
Imperial Rome in Crawford County, Wisconsin – Frank Joseph , ‘The Lost Colonies of Ancient America’.
For more information on the sacrificial mounds of the Kickapoo Valley please purchase my book, Revelations
Ceramic lamp was unearthed in 1969, in Crawford County, Freeman Township, on a hillside field overlooking the
Mississippi River. A farmer’s plow got hung up on a root and when the plow was cleared, the lamp was found face
down in the furrow.
Lamp is 5 inches long, 3.5 inches across, and 1.25 inches thick
Its front, judging by its central hole for the flame, depicts what appears to be the body of a woman between two pairs
of other human figures, sitting and engaged in conversation.
The back features a central circle – its outer rim studded with 19 knobs – enclosing eight lines. This eight-line symbol
recurs six times in the circle around the fire hole, again just beneath it, an once more at the foot of the lamp, bringing
its total repetition on the front to eight.
On each side of a circle, found on the back of the lamp, is the depiction of a man chasing a four-legged animal. In
one version, he bears a knife in his right hand, while the animal looks forward. In the other, the animal looks back at
him. Although the object’s deliberate symbolism may be elusive, Roman astrologers have identified the number eight
with Venus, both the planet and the goddess, who may be the female figure portrayed in the oil lamp.
If the 19 knobs coming around the perimeter of the back side circle – a common sign for the sun- represent years,
then the reference here is to a solar eclipse, because ‘eclipses of the sun tend to recur in periods of nineteen years.’
Removing it entirely from any Native American Indian context, the female figure is shown with long, wavy hair, falling
down her back; wearing a diadem with cloth attachment, the most common feminine headdress of the Greco-Roman
|This artifact was found
in the Wisconsin
River, not far from
Artifacts found in Gays Mills,
Crawford County Wisconsin
There was a 100 year flood in Burlington, WI
which caused the dam to break and waters of
Echo Lake to drain . What they discovered was
an ancient burial site under Echo Lake. Haunted
Burlington Wisconsin by Mary Sutherland can be
found on Amazon .
Mounds at Eli Orchards outside of Rochester
Wisconsin, a few miles from Burlington, WI
|Mounds at the back side of the Haunted
Woods outside of Burlington, WI.
|Mounds at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin
|Panther Mound outside of Burlington
Wisconsin - Some call them 'Water
Spirits' and are usually found near
Out of Print, by Mary Sutherland