Early Native American Burial Customs in Delaware County, Indiana
Indiana Tourist Destinations, Prehistoric Delaware County, Indiana
Map showing the locations of the early Native American burial mounds in Delaware County, Ohio. The location of the Yorktown work is designated by a square, which was done before its discovery. The red stick figures designate locations where giant human skeletons were found.
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History of Delaware County, 1881
History of Delaware County, 1881
In their county, these works are less numerous than in counties less removed from the principle settlement in the Miami Valley. Indeed, there are but one or two examples entitled to consideration. In the vicinity of Yorktown in Mount Pleasant Township, is one of those enclosures which, from observations made, has been pronounced to be of the class known as fortifications, having been constructed for the purpose of defense. Some account of their ancient earthwork, its location and dimensions; will be found in the department of township histories. Its situation would seem to indicate that it may have been very appropriately utilized in that way, and descriptively would seem to be well adapted to that use.
Circular henge located near Yorktown, Indiana with a gateway opening towards the southwest. Ball State archaeological students continued to access this site without the owners permission and eventually were barred from the property. The property has since been sold with the caveot that Ball State will not be allowed on the property to destroy this National treasure.
About one mile and half south of Muncie, in Center Township, is another class of these earthworks - a mound of considerable proportions which is said to have been dug into by some parties in search of relics. The excavation, however, developed the fact that it contained, instead of relics, human bones. “One of these skeletons was of gigantic proportions. The jaw and thighbones were in a good state of preservation, and nearly complete. The jaw bone was so large that it could be easily slipped over the jaw of the largest man of the party - a tall, big boned six footer, and the thigh bone of the skeleton was three inches longer than his”. The discovery of these numerous bones fixed the class under which their specimen should be arranged - the sepulchral - and would also warrant the presumption that these were specimens of some of the other classes not far distant, though investigation has not developed the fact.
In other portions of the county, there are traces of former existence of mounds and enclosures, the identity of which cannot now be well established, owing to the obliterating effects which time has wrought.
History of Delaware County, Monroe Township, 1881
In Section 35, Township 19 north, Range 10 east, there are five of these earthen mounds, four of which are on the farm of Isaac Lenox, and lying within an eight-acre tract. The first is situated at the northern extremity of the tract and is divided about equally by the line between his farm and that of Valentine Carmichael. It is about twenty-five feet above the level of the ground surrounding it, and is quite steep on the sides facing north and northwest.
At a distance of twenty rods from this, and in a direct southwest line, rises another mound, identical in construction with the first, excepting that it presents its steeped declivity on the west side. This mound is fully twenty feet high. Southwest of this, in a direct line, rises another, and in a direct line with this on the farm belong to Mrs. Mary S. Clark, is another, all closely resembling each other in construction.
On the mound near the southeast corner of the Lenox tract, several large mulberry trees were growing when the locality first became settled by white men, and for many years it was known as “Mulberry Hill”.
The uniform character of these mounds, and their close resemblance to what are recognized as ancient earthworks, perhaps entitle them to a place in that category, although they have hitherto - escaped the attention of our archaeologist.
The fact that there are gravel beds, more or less extensive, in each, has led to the opening of one of them, the central mound on the Lenox farm for the repairing of the roads. During the progress of these excavations, human bones have, from time to time, been exhumed. Several years ago, a skeleton of gigantic proportions was unearthed, and bones have been found in several different parts of the mound. No charcoal - usually a part of the contents at these ancient earthworks - has been discovered, and there has been a marked scarcity of stone implements - only one of these having ever been found. Two sons of Isaac Lenox dug this up in 1873. It was heavy at one end and smoothly polished, resembling what is conceded by archaeologists to have been used for a pestle. It differed from these only in one particular. In the heavy end, which was five or six inches in diameter, a hole had been bored about an inch deep, and about three-fourths of an inch, or perhaps an inch in diameter. It was used by the family for cracking hickory nuts, and was finally lost.
The theory of the artificial construction of these mounds seems to be strengthened by the character of the soil of which they are composed. It is very loose and light, as far down as it has ever been penetrated, and is altogether different from the soil of the surrounding country. From this fact, too, we may safely conclude that the altitude of the mounds is less now than at the date of their completion, the tendency of the loose material being to blow away in times of high wind, and thus, little by little, reducing the height.
Perhaps, in a manner as gradual, their builders passed from the face of the earth, or, perhaps, overcome by the savages of the north, they retreated south, from which direction the abundance of their works proclaim them to have proceeded. In either event, we can only certainly known that they have vanished from the localities that once echoed to their tread, and that race of red men, totally different in their habits, succeeded them, only to be disposed, at a later day, by the agriculturalist, whose plowshare turns the sod of the once hallowed burial ground and whose industry makes “the wilderness to blossom as the rose”.
Indiana Geological Report, 1881
Although no such extensive works of that pre-historic race, the “Mound Builders,” are found here as are observed in Randolph, Henry and Madison Counties, yet we have evidence that this was also once their home, many of their implements are found in the southern and central parts of the county; these consist principally of axes, pestles, arrow-heads, hammers, pipes with occasionally articles of ornamentation, although may have been found they have all been gathered up by collectors or lost, and we were able to obtain only a few.
In Section 2, Perry township was the location of a sun temple that was noted on this Indiana Geological Survey Map. The site was investigated and the earthwork is no linger visible.
A number of mounds were found along the rivers; these were all small about twenty feet in diameter and four feet high and were sepulchral, as bones in an advanced stage of decay with ashes and charcoal have been found in those which have been opened. Around one near Yorktown stones were observed which showed the action of fire. In section 2 Perry Township was an enclosure, now obliterated, this was situated upon the summit of a natural h ill and commanded a good view of the surrounding country; the enclosure was 130 feet in diameter, circular, with a ditch inside which, when discovered was about ten inches deep. In the center was a small mound from which a passage way led in a south-westerly direction through the enclosure, numerous implements were picked up here when first discovered. The Indians used many of the hills as burial places; bones have been discovered which from their size would indicate that they belonged to a race of giants. In Monroe township, section 35, are four hills of sand and gravel which are described, by Kinghman Brothers in their history of Delaware County, as being the work of the Mound Builders; these are all natural hills and were formed by currents of water.
Indiana Geological Report, 1881
“The Indians used many of the hills as burial places; bones have been discovered, which from their size would indicate that they belonged to a race of giants.