Ohio History Journal

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The Wisconsin Archaeological Society

The Wisconsin Archaeological Society.            337




The mound of earth at our feet is the work of hands long quiet,

a memorial the meaning of which by the time our race came to this

region had been forgotten by the very aborigines themselves whose

ancestors, it is believed, here built it. On some summer's day, how

many ages ago we know not, there labored here a band of dark-skinned

men and women, bearing with them in sacks and baskets the earth,

toilsomely scooped up with blade-bones, shells, and bits of wood, of

which this figure is composed. It is not difficult to imagine the scene

about them as it must have appeared on that day. The soft homelike

contours of the hills enclosing the lake below us cannot have greatly

changed; some then as now were darkly hooded with a close growth of

trees, but on most of them the oaks stood wide apart in the midst of

an undergrowth of brambles and other rough bushes, or cast their

shadows in park-like groves on grassy slopes. The brush was thick, no

doubt, and sheltered bears and deer. The flocks of water birds on the

lakes in spring and autumn were vast and noisy. There were no neatly

painted houses ranged in order along straight white streets, and hollow

trails led from one group to another of skin tepees near the lake shores,

with great solitudes between them.

In the level meadow below us, and a few hundred yards to the

southeast, on what was then the edge of the rushy lake, was one group

of such tents, the village of the builders of this mound. The oaks still

standing in the park sheltered the village in its later days. The ground

beneath is full of the signs of the life of the inhabitants: flint imple-

ments and flakes and potsherds, the homely and pitiful wealth of the

villagers. Between the two oaks at the end of the little grove on the

west may yet be found the remnants of ancient hearthstones, cracked by

fire. The lake near by provided the inhabitants with the fish and turtles

which formed so large a part of their food and were so important in

their agriculture. Their corn-field and their burial ground have not

been discovered, but must have been not distant. These people must

have led a tolerably settled life; the region about them was rich in

all the elements of savage prosperity, and vigorous enemies pressed at

no great distance upon their borders. Why should they roam far from

so fair a home? On this earth, then grew the holy sentiments possible

only where mankind have settled habitations. Here were homes and

love, affection for the lake, the trees, the hills, for the graves of

ancestors, devotion to the commonweal - sacred feelings, however crudely

or dimly manifested, however mingled with savage folly and savage


Dr. Samuel Johnson says, in words which as Matthew Arnold de-

clares, should be written in letters of gold over every schoolhouse

Vol. XIX. -22.