Ohio History Journal

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[Col. W. J. Armstrong was inspector of the United States consulates

under the administrations of President Grant. He is the author of "Siberia

and the Nihilists," "The Heroes of Defeat," etc. - EDITOR.]

The Mound Builder is still a mystery. His story has not been

told. He is not yet intelligibly tangent to any known race. He

is not only prehistoric, but unconnected. His clues are shy and

evasive, lacking the thread of either written speech or hiero-

glyphic memorials. His silence is impressive. He is the Pelas-

gian of the Western World, without articulate voice to reach his

successors. On the Latin theory, omne ignotum pro magnifico,

he tends in popular fancy to enlargement and idealization. Some-

thing, however, is being concretely, if slowly, learned of him.

For a century or more he has been studied empirically and super-

ficially in these western valleys along the great Mississippi basin.

Generations of the early modern settlers here, the pioneers of the

woods, and their successors, the cultivators of the soil, looked

with inquiring wonder on his huge traces, his burial tumuli, his

gigantic earth-works, his implements of flint and diorite. Then

they gave him up as an unresolved and impossible problem. They

had dimly heard, however, that he was an "Aztec," or "Toltec,"

or possibly a Tartar. And learned investigation has not pro-

ceeded much further. The scholar is still a fumbling sciolist,

dealing with the now mute inhabitant, who, in the twilight cen-

turies, settled down here amid the mysterious forests. Or, who

knows, he may have been, like the forest themselves, autochthon-

ous-the Adam and Eve of the occident?

But, as has been intimated, some progress has been made in

the knowledge of this misty and elusive denizen of the early

wilds. The unearthing and inspection of his remains in recent

years having thrown new light upon his habits and customs, pos-

sibly, his grade in civilization. As is fitting, in the region where