Burial Mound Near Racine Wisconsin
Proceeding northward from Kenosha, along the west shore of Lake Michigan, the next evidences of ancient labor are found at Racine; showing that, notwithstanding the great difference between the moral, social, political, and other conditions of the red and white man, they usually fix upon the same points as favorite places of residence. The map will convey to the reader a correct idea of the interesting groups of works at this place. In the examination of them, and in the preparation of this map, I have been materially assisted by Dr. P. R. Hoy, of Racine. The works occupy the high ground bordering upon Root River, from one to two miles from the margin of the lake, and immediately back of the city limits. They consist mostly of circular burial-mounds, of no great size or height, with one circular inclosure, and several tapering ridges. There are also two semicircles opening on the edge of the bluff towards the river. The group of very numerous and remarkable mounds represented at the lower part of was surveyed with some minuteness, with a view to detecting the order of arrangement upon which they were constructed. The result shows very clearly that no order or system was adopted. Each person buried was placed where chance might lead the relatives or friends to select the spot. No three mounds could be found on the same straight line; indeed, it seems as if it were the intention of the builders to avoid all appearance of regularity. Large mounds are interspersed with smaller ones, without regard to symmetry or succession.
Dr. Hoy has recently opened one of these mounds, and found in it the skeletons of seven persons, buried in a sitting posture, and facing the east. (See Fig. 2.) The bones were not accompanied by ornaments or articles of any kind that had resisted the destructive effects of time. The teeth of the adult skeletons were much worn, but sound and firm. It was observed that the muscles of the jaws must have been unusually large and strong. The bones of the skull, except in one instance (probably that of a female), were found to be remarkably thick and solid. These skeletons were much decayed, and could not be restored. The mound opened was seven feet high and fifty feet in diameter, being the largest of the group. A basin-shaped excavation had been made in the original soil, about eighteen inches deep, reaching to the gravelly subsoil, upon which the skeletons were placed side by side, all facing in the same direction. The legs, which had been laid horizontally, retained their original position; but the skulls and bones of the bodies were huddled together by the settling upon them of the earth in which they were placed. There were no indications of fire.
Skeletons place din a sitting position is the general rule in burial mounds in the Great Lakes Region. Many of the skeletons were found to be of large or gigantic size. For more giants
Another mound of smaller dimensions, opened under my inspection, contained a confused mass of bones, also very much decayed, and resting upon the gravel, which was here two feet below the original surface. Bones of at least three individuals were discovered. Their confused condition might be owing to the custom, still prevalent among the Indians, of placing the bodies of those who die or are killed away from home, in trees, where they remain until the softer parts are decayed and gone, when the bones are collected and buried. No ornaments, or indeed remains of articles of any kind, could be found in this mound; nor was here any charcoal, burnt clay, or other indication of fire.
These mounds were made from the surface soil; and no traces of excavations, or places whence the materials were taken, could be detected. It is not probable that the earth was penetrated more than a few inches to obtain the quantity necessary to form the mounds, some of which are quite small, not more than one or two feet in height above the original surface of the ground. They are of various dimensions, from five to fifty feet in diameter, and from one to seven feet in height. Many of them are now nearly levelled by the plough. They may still, however, be detected in the cultivated fields by a trifling elevation, or by a slight difference in the color of the soil, In one case, at least, the plough had turned up the bones from beneath.