An Archaeological Survey of Adena Indian Burial Mounds and Earthworks in Wayne County, Indiana

An Archaeological Survey of Indian Burial Mounds and Earthworks in Wayne County, Indiana

A map showing the locations of burial mounds and earthworks in Wayne County, Indiana

Eighth Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Indiana, 1876
      The high table-lands of this county, and its deep canon-like river valleys, afforded the Mound Builders favorable sites for their settlements, and we constant find the remains of a number of large and interesting earthworks and a great many mounds scattered along the bluffs of the streams. Prof. J.C. MacPherson, county superintendent of schools of Wayne County, has kindly furnished me with a sketch of these ancient works, and as he has given considerable attention to the study of archaeology, his report is a very valuable acquisition to our knowledge on this subject, and I take pleasure in presenting it to the public.

Observations on the Prehistoric Earthworks of Wayne County, Indiana”
     The surface of Wayne County presents many evidences of occupancy by the Mound Builders. Mounds are found in all parts of the county-situated on the uplands and along the courses of the streams. The plowshare has leveled many, and some have been removed in opening roads to the material used in making brick. Twenty-five mounds have been located on a map of the county prepared in connection with the geological report.

The works in the county seem to be a continuation southward from the works along White River in Randolph County, and follow the branches of the White Water. Perhaps, when all the works located in this part of the Ohio Valley are mapped, some systematic arrangement may be discovered.

Three miles north from Fountain City (formerly called Newport), on a rise overlooking the wooded valley of Noland’s fork, is a mound seventy-five feet in diameter, (section 19, township 18, range 15 east).


A slight undulation in this field still marks the site of this burial mound.  

Another is on the farm of Daniel Hough, adjoining Fountain City. A third is said to have been removed in making the principal street of that town.

One mile northeast from Fountain City, on level ground, between Noland’s fork and a small tributary-Buck run-is an embankment enclosing eleven acres. The figure (Plate C) of this earthwork is a square with curved corners. The length on the inside of the embankment is 780 feet. The embankment has been plowed over for years, yet can be plainly traced. A gateway is discernible on the west side, and hollows are found in the vicinity, which some suppose were made by the builders when collecting material for the embankment. Since the accompanying map was made, a more careful survey has discovered the fact that the direction of the embankment is not due north and south, but at an angle, with the west side nearly parallel with the road.


Making the correction stated above about the position of the earthwork, if it was parallel to the road the gateway would be aligned to the summer solstice sunset and would again align to the west on the winter solstice sunrise.  


Undulations in this field are the only remnants of the once massive 50 feet wide earthen wall that enclosed this sacred temple.


A large mound stood two miles north from Chester (Section 4, Township 14, and Range 1 west). The greater part was removed in making the Arba road. A copper ring was found therein, and is now in the collection at Earlham College. (Judge N.R. Overman informs me that four copper bracelets were found. He has one in his cabinet. He also has three flint implements taken from this mound.)

Several mounds are situated in the neighborhood of Middleboro. Some have been opened, but no contents worthy of notice have been obtained.

One mile north from Richmond, on the Hoover farm, and in the vicinity, several small mounds were located. In one, when removed, was found a copper ornament.


The map shows two burial mounds and a square enclosure within the city limits of Richmond


One of the burial mounds near the square enclosure is still visible in some dense thickets. The mound is unique in that a graded way leads to second terrace below.

A mound near Earlham College was opened by President Moore and the usual contents of mounds found-pieces of pottery, ashes, and other evidences of fire.

On the J.C. Ratliff farm a mound was opened, and some small articles, which were at first supposed to be beads, but are now thought to be parched corn, found therein. L.B. Case, of Richmond, has some grains of corn, which were found in a jar some distance below the surface of the ground, in the vicinity of that place.

A large mound south from the town of Centreville was deemed of sufficient note to be marked upon an early map of the State, but has since been destroyed.

In the southwestern part of Boston Township is a mound hidden away in a “hollow”; and one formerly stood south from Richmond near the Boston pike.


A small burial mound located in a holler next to a small creek.  Small burial mounds like this that are tucked away far from the road are in the greatest danger of being destroyed by University archaeologists. 

Traces of a mound are to be seen on the farm of James W. Martindale, adjoining Washington. This mound was opened in early times, and charcoal found near the original surface of the ground. A great quantity of arrowheads has been found around a spring (long since dry) near this mound.

A circular embankment was found near Green’s fork, east from Jacksonburg, twenty-five feet in diameter. It was long since plowed down.

Two mounds are to be seen a short distance northwest from Jacksonburg.

Overlooking Martindale’s creek in Jefferson Township (section 18, township 17 north, range 13 east,) is a mound. Also two in the bottom land along West River, at Hagerstown.

Two miles southeast from Milton (section 6, township 15, range 13 east,) is a beautiful mound, fifteen feet in diameter. Forest trees are still standing upon it; also a stump measuring two feet across.


Headwaters to creeks were Sacred Grounds to the early mound builders.


The burial mound is still visible in this field, but it is now under cultivation.  It appears that this mound is of natural origin, but was used for burials.  

Near the county line, about one-mile north of Waterloo, Fayette County, is a mound upon high ground, and about a mile to the southeast, in Fayette County, is a curiously shaped.


This mound is visible across the road from the holler.  According to the land owner it was much more conical years ago before being plowed.


The most notable mounds (Plates A and B) in Wayne County are located on the left bank of the west branch of the White Water River, one and a quarter miles north of Cambridge City. They consist of a series of circular embankments, continued over half a mile of ground.


Earthwork cox near Cambridge City, Indiana

The south circle (Plate A) is in the best state of preservation. The embankment was made of the earth taken from the trench, which is on the inside of the embankment. Within, the ground has been made to slope gently from the center to the bottom of the trench, except to the east, where there was left a roadway leading from the center through a gateway in the embankment to the level ground beyond. The embankment is four feet above the surface of the field, and seven feet above the bottom of the trench, and wide enough on the top to allow two carriages to pass each other. The gateway is one rod wide. This circle is made of gravelly soil, while the north circle is composed of a loam, and has yielded more to the destroying influence of plowing.  It is not as symmetrical as the other, being more oval in outline.


Two large henges of the Cambridge City earthwork complex.  The north henge is aligned to the summer solstice sunrise, and would align again on the winter solstice sunset.


Henge complexes at Mounds State Park in Anderson, New Castle Indiana, and Athens, Ohio all contained 8 works in the group. From the previous map, the Indiana Geological Survey placed 7 north along the river and the two main henges.  In this aerial photo the 8th earthwork is revealed next to the southern henges northwest side.  A similar, smaller circle also occurs at Mounds State Park in Anderson, Inidana.




Despite being plowed for years the central platform and exterior ditches are still visible of the Southern Henge. The gateway also still visible and marking the yearly equinoxes as it has done for the last 2000 years.

The class of works to which these belong is described in “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley,” page 47, and are denominated “Sacred Enclosures.”

These two circles on Plate A, are about fifteen rods apart, and about the same distance from the bluff of the stream. In the bluff, equally distant from both the circles, is a passageway cut from the top of the bluff to low ground bordering the water, some twelve feet below. This cut is evidently not a water-wash, for along the sides can be seen the earth which was removed in making it thrown up as dirt is thrown up along the sides of a ditch.


This "cut" is still visible between the two henges that leads on a gradual descent to a small creek that runs to the west of the earthworks.  It is evidence of an important concept at most earthworks sites that will have elements of both the Sky Father (sun) and the Earth Mother (creek)

The bluff here spoken of is the edge of the first terrace. The rounded margin of the second terrace can be seen a quarter of a mile to the east.

Several hundred feet north from the second of the above-described circles is a group of five small circles (Plate B). With one exception these are about sixty feet in diameter, and are now from one to two feet high. The circle numbered 3, on Plate B, is at the point of a tongue of higher ground, and affords an outlook over the other works.  The embankment of the largest work in this group (numbered 7) can not be traced on the south, that part being in a field which has long been cultivated. Trees of large size were, until recently, standing upon the embankments of these works.

Burial places and remains have been found in various localities within the county. A number of years ago, in removing the gravel from a bank in the northwest part of Jefferson Township, nine feet below the surface, eight skeletons were discovered. They had been buried in an upright position. These bones were gathered together by the workmen and reburied in a common grave. In constructing the Valley Railroad from Hagerstown to Cambridge City, human remains were exhumed; also some at the latter place.

O. Beeson communicated to the local papers some twelve years ago an account of the discovery of a burial place in the extreme southwest corner of the county. Many skeletons were found in a gravel bank, some having been placed in a sitting posture and some with the head downward.

Recently some twenty or more skeletons were unearthed in a gravel pit on George Jordan’s farm, about two miles northwest from Economy. These bodies seem to have been buried in graves a few feet apart, and six feet below the surface. Some of them were in a sitting position, while others were in various positions.

The discovery of a human skeleton in a mound on the bank of White Water, near Richmond, many years ago, was the occasion for the following lines from the pen of the late John Finley; author of the “Hoosier’s Nest,” and other poems, and once Mayor of Richmond.

“Year after year its course has sped,
Age after age has passed away,
And generations born and dead,
Have mingled with their kindred clay,
Since this rude pile, to memory dear,
Was watered by affection’s tear.

* * * * * * * * * *

“No legend tells thy hidden tale,
Thou relic of a race unknown!
Oblivion’s deepest, darkest veil
Around thy history is thrown;
Fate, with arbitrary hand,
Inscribed thy story on the sand.”

Stone and flint implements were formerly found in great numbers in this region. Wayne County, like the rest of our State, has suffered in being robbed by collectors and traffickers, who have carried away many specimens to grace the museums of other states. But recently more interest has been manifested in the subject of archaeology, and the collection at Earlham College, and several private collections, are beginning to assume interesting proportions.

Setzler’s Survey”, Indiana Historical Society
The Indiana Historical Society is in leauge with the university archaeologists and the DNR to destroy every mound in Indiana. Despite a historical legacy than spans thousands of years the Indiana Historical Society has not saved, preserved or even noted any of these antiquities as historic sites. They have given millions of dollars to universities to desecrate burial mounds across the State.
The following list is a good example of the mindless destruction done to Indiana's antiquities by the Indiana Historical Society.

These are mounds in his report in addition to mounds reported by McPherson.

1.) Schroeder Mound. On the east bank of the Green Fork. Diameter of mound twelve feet, six inches. Located in the southeast one quarter of Section 21, Green Township.


Very little remains of the Schroeder mound after Setzler and the Indiana Historical Society were done with it.

*If mound found in frac.-Section 19 of New Garden Township, mound was originally forty feet in diameter and three feet high.

2.) Teetor Mound. Located one mile east of Hagerstown on Highway 38. Originally the mound was 43 feet in diameter and eight feet high.  Southeast quarter of Section 23, Jefferson Township.

3.) Wolford Mound. Measured 45” in diameter and five and half feet high. One quarter mild northeast of the circular earthwork. Mound’s location was the northeast one quarter of Section 15, Jefferson Township.

4.) This mound was used by surveyors as a base for survey measurements. It was described as being 45 feet in diameter and nine feet high. Located in the northwest one quarter of Section 5, Jackson Township.

5.) Secrist Mound. Was located in a woods, one half mile southeast of Jacksonburgh. Mound was originally 42 feet in diameter and eight feet high. Located in the southwest one-quarter of Section 8, Harrison Township.

6.) Davis Mound. Near the edge of the east bank of the Green Fork stood a mound 43 feet in diameter and 5 feet high. Located in the northeast one quarter of Section 16, Harrison Township.

7.) No physical descriptions exist of two mounds located in the northeast one quarter of Section 6 and the northwest one quarter of Section 5, Harrison Township.

8.) In the northeast one quarter of Section 6 and the northwest one quarter of Section5, Harrison Township.

9.) Hodgins Mound. Original dimensions were thirty-nine feet north and south, forty-eight feet east and west and was three to four feet in height. Located in the southeast one quarter of Section 21, Wayne Township.


Burial mound is still visible on a table of high ground that descends into an aquifer. The mound is located within the city limits of Richmond.

10.) Richmond City Waterworks. Mound originally was thirty-five feet in diameter and nearly six feet high. Located in the northeast one quarter of Section 34, Wayne Township.


After an hour of clearing brush from the earthen heap, we were able to photograph the Waterworks mound.  It would be visible from the road if it were cleared.

11.) Mound once stood roughly 11,000 feet from the west bank of the East Fork of the Whitewater River in the northwest one quarter of Section 8, Wayne Township.

12.) One mile south of the City of Milton was a mound forty-nine feet in diameter and five feet high in the northwest one quarter of Section 11, Washington Township.

13.) A small mound was located in the northwest one quarter of Section 12, Washington Township.

14.) Doddridge Mound. Located on a sharp bend of Noland’s fork. Originally the mound was thirty-eight feet in diameter and three feet high in the southwest one quarter of Section 16, Washington Township.

15.) Robbins Mound. Mound used to be visible from the road that divides Section 17. Its size was forty-five feet east, west, and 35 feet north-south with a height of four feet. Location was the northwest one quarter of Section 17, Abington Township