Ohio History Journal

540 Ohio Arch

540       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.




[Mr. Galbraith has for some time been publishing a series of

"Short Stories of the Buckeye State."  Many of them are worthy of

preservation in permanent form. Archaeologists will be interested in

the one herewith reprinted. Did the Cave Dwellers antedate the Mound

Builders ? - EDITOR.]

When Charles Whittlesey explored the shelter houses or caves

under the sandstone outcropping along the Black river in the vicinity of

Elyria, in 1851, he found that the floor of the caves was covered several

feet thick with detertias from the rocks, thickly mingled with bones of

animals. The shelter caves there are exactly like those in France and

other parts of Europe, in which archaeologists have found many inter-

esting relics.

In the Elyria case the sandstone, or grit, lies upon shale forma-

tions, and the latter wearing away under the influence of the elements

much more rapidly than the superimposed sandstone, deep shelters have

been made which the primitive human beings in this vicinity occupied

as their homes, just as birds and other animals select for their use

such shelter as nature herself provides. Not being good housekeepers,

the early human occupants of these shelter caves threw their garbage on

the floors of the caves and it was this accumulation that Colonel Whit-

tlesey explored.

With the bones of birds, animals, fishes, etc., there was found

charcoal and ashes, showing that these primitive people knew the art of

making fire and used it to warm themselves and, perhaps, to cook their

meat and parch their corn.

The explorer also found buried in this accumulation on the cave

floor three human skeletons, lying just below the surface and in such

position as to lead him to believe that they had not been buried there

after death, but that they were the victims of just such an accident as

frequently happens now in the coal mines of Ohio. He believed that

they were killed by a fall of slate from the roof of the shelter cave, a

mass of such material becoming dislodged from the roof above their

heads as they slept or rested on the floor below, and it both killed and

buried the three.

One of the skeletons was evidently that of an aged woman, another

that of a young man, and the other was of uncertain age and sex.

Very few implements were found in the exploration and it is believed

that the skeletons were of people who lived in Ohio not less than two

thousand years ago.