THE MOUND BUILDERS IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA
Map showing the locations of the burial mounds and earthworks in Randolph County, Indiana the red stick figures represent giant human skeletons found in burial mounds
History of Randolph County, Kingman, 1882.
There are many antiquities in Randolph County mounds, embankments, etc., some of which are described below:
1) One of the best known is to be seen (partly) in the fairgrounds northwest of Winchester. It is an enclosure of forty-three acres in the form of an exact square. The embankment was from seven to ten feet high, with openings east and west eighty feet wide as also having a mound in the center of the area fifteen feet high. The whole enclosure and the embankment also, when found by the first settlers was covered with large forest trees exactly like the adjacent regions. The eastern opening was unprotected, the western one was surrounded outwardly by an embankment shaped, like a horseshoe open toward the gate, joined on the north side to the main embankment, but left open at the south side of the gate for a passage to the outer grounds.
The earthwork is still visible in a few places. This photo shows part of the western gateway.
2) Another embankment exists on the Heaston farm west of Winchester, near the crossing of Sugar Creek, enclosing perhaps an area-not very high.
This earthwork surrounded a venerated spring, south of the main work, The site was investigated, but nothing remains.
3) There are mounds in Washington Township. One is near the Hogback Pike on the right of the Winchester and Lynn road. It covers two areas and is forty or fifty feet high.
4) Up Sugar Creek on the Huntsville pike, a burial place was excavated, through out bones and other things.
5) A remarkable hill or mound, forty or fifty feet high, comprising several acres, round like a flattish haystack, is in the southeast corner of Washington Township.
6) In Painter’s gravel bank in the bluffs of Bear Creek, near Elder Thomas Addington’s (Section 32, 30, 14), were found (in 1879) fifty or sixty skeletons of human frames. Some had been buried separately and some were in a trench three feet deep. Those buried singly were in a sitting posture with the lower limbs extending horizontally. Those in the trench appeared to have been thrown in promiscuously, some of them crosswise. Some of the graves had been eight feet deep, others only three or four. In the trench was surface earth mixed with the gravel, elsewhere the gravel was pure. Whether the gravel diggers have uncovered the whole trench is not known.
Many, perhaps most, of the skeletons were of unusual size. One jaw was so large as so pass readily outside when applied to an ordinary man’s face. One thigh bone was so long that, when put beside the thigh of a man six feet high, the lower part of the bone reached four inches below the knee. The teeth in the jaws were perfectly sound, some were much worn but none were decayed. No hair was found, nor any woody nor fibrous material, such as cloth, etc. The bones were brittle but the teeth were firm and solid. Elder Thomas Addington saw these things personally, helping to take the gravel from the bank, and the bones from the gravel. He is a sober-minded, intelligent, truthful man. Mr. Painter put the bones in a box, and buried them on his farm.
Mr. Addington said one of the skeletons had high cheekbones and long, thing skull like an Indiana, and beside it were a pipe and dog. The others were not so.
7) Skeletons have been found in and taken from a gravel bank near Joseph Mill’s, on the Windsor pike, two miles southeast of Farmland.
8) Two skeletons were found in Jones’s bank near Oliver Branch.
9) East of Windsor and north of the Pike, on Esq. Thompson’s farm, may be seen a large oval mound, covering an acre, and twenty-five or thirty feet high. It is 450 yards round the base and longer than it is wide. When dug into, it shows clay mixed with ashes and coal more or less. A chunk, seeming to have been a sod of grass, was thrown up from the bottom of a hole twenty feet deep, dug from the top vertically downward. A red oak tree, four feet through, was standing (forty years ago) near the top of the mound, but no other trees of much size were on its surface. The ground around the mounds was then covered with large forest trees. There are now many trees growing along the sides of the mound, from six to fifteen inches through. An excavation of considerable size appeared (forty years ago) perhaps twenty rods from the base of the mound, which is thought to be the place whence the earth for its construction was taken. Another smaller mound lies across the river not far away. Esq. Thompson has preserved many fine specimens of arrowheads, hatchets, hammers, pestles, etc., picked up on his farm. The hatchets and hammers have hollows cut around them for handles. The relics are all of stone. Many of them are worked smooth and highly polished.
The Windsor burial mound looks pristine from the road, but the back of the mound has been removed by university archaeologist. The plan on returning to this mound and continue digging, no doubt until it is completely destroyed.
10) There was found on Section 34, Town 20, Range 12, on Bear Creek, Franklin Township, by George Adding ton, on the farm upon which he resides, a hidden well. He was digging in a low but not boggy place on his farm for stock-water. About three feet down he struck some puncheons lying flat, and upon removing them he found below a hollow ”gum,” and a well, enclosed by the gum, ten or twelve feet deep. He put in an oil barrel to complete the curb, and the well is there now, and he uses it to water his stock.
11) There is a large, whitish, mound-like hill or knoll, round and smooth, with neither trees nor grass, not far from Snow Hill station, north of Lynn, on the Grand Rapids Railroad, each of the railroad and west of the pike. This knoll, covered in the winter with snow, is thought to have given the name of the old town, or hamlet, of Snow Hill.
This mound is destroyed and the namesake of the town of Snow Hill. The significance is that mounds in groups of three were done by both the early Iroquois and Adena mound builders.
12) The graveyard in Jericho (Friends) seems to have been an ancient burial ground, and human bones have at different times been thrown out where none were known to have been buried. The graveyard is a large gravelly knoll, of an acre or more, ten or fifteen feet high, at a distance from any stream of water.
13) The gravel bank, which forms the graveyard at Arba, is an ancient burial ground.
14) Bones have been taken from a gravel bank northwest of Spartansburg.
15) Human bones were found in a gravel hill north of Stockdale’s, east of the pike, and southeast of Bartonia.
16) In a gravel bank on the west side of White River, west of Mt. Zion Church, near Nathan Butt’s, were found several skeletons; and, with nearly every one, coals of fire seem to have been thrown in. They were three or four feet below the surface, lying horizontally, and mostly large. The teeth were solid, though some were worn. [Rev. N.T. Butts, who lives near and helped take them out, is our informant.]
17) There is a considerable knoll, or mound, in Washington Township, west of the railroad and of the wagon road that passes along west of the railroad and parallel thereto: It is southwest of snow Hill station, located in Cal. Johnson’s field, and in sight of the large clayey knoll.
18) There are some circular embankments of the Bales farm (now owned by Mr. Branson), not far from Cedar (Friends) Meeting House, in Stony Creek Township, a little north of Cabin Creek. In one place there are two circular embankments together. The circles cut each other. A mound is in the center of each circle, higher than the embankment. The earth for both the wall and the mound would seem to have been taken from the space between the two. The embankments are now about three feet higher than the level of the ground outside. The central mounds are perhaps ten feet across and four feet high. The ground enclosed in both is about three acres, two acres in the large and one acre in the smaller. There is an opening like a wagon-way on the East Side of each enclosure.
19) Another on the same farm (Bale's) and on the other side of Cabin Creek is a semi-circle opening to the west. The opening is nearly closed by a curved bank, except a space about twelve feet wide at each end of the bank. There are depressions leading through the passageways. In the center is a mound fifteen feet across, and the enclosure is about two feet high (1880), containing two acres. South and near by, is another mound fifteen feet across and four feet high.
The fields have been tilled thirty or forty years (or even longer.) At first the forest covered them and their height was much greater than at present.
20) Near Buena Vista a stone wall was found near the surface at the base of a hill, extending downward into the earth. How deep it went or how long the wall was, our informant does not know. The part he saw was a rod or so long. It was between Buena Vista and Unionsport, on the south side of the road, on land owned by Elliott, about one-half mile south of the road.
21) Temple Smith (now living near Stone Station) picked up a stone (triangular, six inches to a side) an inch thick, scooped hollowing in the middle on both sides, very smooth, and highly polished, of a dark, yellowish cast.
22) On Mulligans’s farm east of Stone Station, Mr. Lewis found (ten or twelve years ago), a dark, streaked stone, very smooth, long and round, two inches through, with a smooth, round hole drilled nearly through lengthwise; one end had been broken off; the other was smooth and flat.
23) Zimri Moffat, east of Winchester, found a tombstone with part broken off, 144 years old. [When it was found was not told].
24) when digging a well near Solomon Wright’s, not far from the mouth of Cabin Creek, the diggers found, at the depth of twenty-five feet, walnut log six inches thick. They cut the log out as long as the width of the well, and brought it to the top. This was thirty years ago. The log lay at least ten feet blow the channel or bed of Cabin Creek near by.
Geological Survey of Indiana, Randolph, 1882
Small boulders were observed on the summit and sides. No excavations have been made in either of these mounds. Both were evidently built of clay taken from the immediate vicinity. They may have served as points of outlook, as they are only about one mile apart. In Section 4, one mile southwest of the last one described, is a very large mound which is considered artificial by the people in that vicinity, but its relation to some small streams suggested that it was more likely one of natures carving. On the map is marked its location as future investigations may possibly show that it really belongs with the works of the Mound Builders.
In Section 10, Range 13 east, 2 north, Franklin Township was a circular enclosure, with an area of about one and half acres. The walls were four feet high. Although when first noticed by the earlier settlers it was in a good state of preservation, it has been destroyed, and no trace of it remains.
North of the Mississinewa River, between Ridgeview and Fairview, are a number of tumuli, which contain ashes and charcoal. The Indians may have built these, as this used to be their camping ground.
NOTE: No modern Indians have been known to cremate their dead in mounds.
Many of the gravel banks have served for the Indians as burial places, as skeletons are frequently met with while digging gravel for pikes. Some of the skeletons were of large size, and deposited with them were articles of ornament, as paint sells, etc. The position of some indicates that they had been buried in a sitting posture.
Geological Survey of Indiana, Randolph County, 1882
Section 23, Range 14 East, Washington Township, is a large, circular mound, which, although now somewhat reduced in size, could not have formerly been less than fifteen feet high and one hundred feet in diameter. In Section 33 same township, is another, which measured three hundred feet in circumference and fifteen feet high; this was better preserved than the former. (Note Cal Johnson mound)
Burial mound located north of Lynn, Indiana. Its conical shape would imply that it is an Adena mound.
Indiana History Bulletin Vol. VII, Oct. 1929
Mentions large mounds on the Baxter property in the southeast quarter of Section 27, Washington Township.
Just south of the large mound in Section 33, Washington Township, another large mound was found and was barely visible at the time of the search in 1929. Presently no evidence exists.
Proceeding of the Indiana Academy of Science, 1894.
“Concerning a Burial Mound Recently Opened in Randolph County” by Joseph Moore
Southern Randolph and the adjacent portion of Wayne, is in the main a level tract, the land during ordinary seasons being rather wet.
Adena Burial Mound at Lynn, Indiana
Besides a number of well-defined made mounds in the neighborhood of Lynn Station on the G.R. & I. R.R. there are frequent examples of natural mounds. These are usually much larger than the artificial mounds. They may be compared to drift islands surrounded by flat areas of dark colored soil. Some of these mounds of modified drift have been utilized by ancient peoples as burial grounds. The one of which I speak is a fraction over a mile west of Lynn Station. It is about 150 years in circumference and eighteen to twenty feet high, and is so symmetrical as to have the appearance of a made mound; but in a wide cutting made through it by the gravel haulers the structure clearly shows an aqueous deposit from top to bottom. In this mound the workmen say they have opened “more than a hundred graves.” They “counted till they reached seventy.” Quite a number of the skulls were sufficiently preserved to bear handling, even after being for a short time exposed to the air. Some of them on being treated with a solution of glue have rather a fresh, recent look. Very many of the bones were broken to crumbs by visitors in sport. Some of the skeletons were in a sitting posture with the chin crowded upon the knees.
This is the second burial mound near Lynn Indiana. It is heavily overgown with brush that makes its outlines difficult to discern.
The depth of the graves was from a yard or less to twelve feet and more. The skeletons were of both sexes and various ages, some quite young. It was alleged that a horse’s bones were found, but I was unable to find the least scrap. They also tell of a dog’s skull with the teeth all perfect. This is possibly so, but it would seem more likely that it was the head of a wolf, which is quite similar. Quite a number of implements were found some of which are here on the table. One skeleton was found with a large dart in each hand.
They assert that a scapula was found pierced by a flint dart and that the dart was lodged in said bone, but that the bone immediately crumbled from about it. There were beads of bone, shell and copper (but few of the latter) copper rings, tube pipes and various other things, the uses of which are not very well known.
You will see in the skulls presented for your examination that there is quite diversity. Two of them are of the brachycephalic or short-head type, one barely so, the other extremely so. The one has the lateral diameter in the proportion to the fore and aft, as 86 to 100, the other 92 to 100. The others are all orthocephalic, though one of them approaches to the longhead type.
You will note not only the extent to which the teeth are worn, but also the peculiar manner of the wearing. It will also be seen that decayed teeth, caries of the bone and also signs of gumboils and abscesses are not confined entirely to civilized races.
The upper wisdom teeth in one of the skulls show, each, examples of enamel tubercles on the fangs, a rather rate phenomenon, as I understand.
You will note also in one of them an extraordinary double suture at upper border of occiput.
A question of interest: Did such diverse skulls belong to the same tribe, or did different tribes at different times bury in the same grounds?
History of Randolph County, Indiana,1882
A Mr. Osborn, who was at Amos Smith’s one-half mile south of Powers station, Jay County, In., told us as follows :
Most of the mounds in Randolph County are in the southern part on the White River or tributaries to it Along the Mississenawa in the north are a few earthworks.
History of Randolph County. 1882
In Section 10, range 13 east, 2 north, Franklin Township, was a circular enclosure, with an area of about one and half acres. The walls were four feet high. Although when first noticed by the earlier settlers, it was in a good state of preservation, it has since been destroyed, and no trace of it remains. North of the Mississinewa River, between Ridgeville and Fairview, are a number of small tumuli, which contain ashes and charcoal. These may have been built by the Indians, as this used to be their camping ground.