A Tour Mound Builder's Ruins in Noble County, Indiana

Mound Builders Ruins in Noble County Indiana
Historic Indiana map showing location of burial mounds and giant skeletons in Noble County, Indiana

   36 burial mound sites were investigated in Noble County.   7 of these ancient burial mound sites can still be  viewed today. Nothing is preserved or even recognized has an historic site. The mounds could date from 2000 B. C. -1200 A.D.
     As you read through the following histories, take note of mounds in groups of three, this was the practice of the Adena to the south. It is believed that the skeletal remains in Noble County represent the Maritime Archaic who occupied the Great Lakes region by 2,000 B.C.
       The best evidence of the Maritime Archaic is the large size of the skeletons and the skulls "archaic" type traits of a protruding brow ridge  and a massive skull.

Alvords History of Noble County, 1902, “A Big Indian”
     Of the interesting collection in Dr. Egles possession the most prominent were the entire skull, dorsal and lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones, and left femur and forearm of a skeleton exhumed from one of the prehistoric mounds of Noble County, located on the farm of Jeremiah Noel, Section 1, Elkhart Township. Some measurements were taken, which are given below, with the common names of the measured parts:
     Skull, from base to nose over the top of head to base of occiput, 11-1/2 inches; around the skull, from middle of forehead, 14-3/4 inches; over the top from ear to ear 11-1/2 inches; around the back of skull, from ear to ear, 10-3/4 inches. Thighbones, 18 inches long, large and showing by the size of the muscular attachments great solidity and power of muscle. Forearm 12 inches in length, large and strong. Their skull, in size and proportions, was superior to those of many whites; and the pelvis, backbone and thigh bone, all indicated that the form, when clothed in flesh and animated by the living spirit, must have been a noble specimen of manhood. The cranial developments showed capability of a high degree of intellectual culture. . .
        The skeleton just described was found in a large mound on Noels farm, as above stated, with parts of twenty-seven others, by explores in the interest of Baltey & Co., publisher of a history of Lagrange and Noble Counties. In describing the excavation of their mound and others in the same vicinity, the principle writer of that history notes the posture of the skeletons as identical with known modes of Indian burials; and in alluding to the fact of a “remarkably large and sound maxillary bone,” indicating comparatively recent burial, adds “the reader must remember that these are the bones of Mound Builders, not Indians . . . years ago, and very likely longer.”

“A Prehistoric Battle”
      Late in the summer of 1895 Mr. W. A. Kuhn, of Albion, told me of the existence of mounds and of the discovery of a large number of bones, skulls, etc., in a peninsula formed by a sharp northeast bend of the Elkhart River, in Section 16, York Township. The excavation took place in 1842, Mr. Kuhn, then a youth of eighteen years, being a participant in the work. An Indian trail, deeply worn and running from Lake Wawassee northeastward toward Monogoquinong, crossed the river at the bend, where there was a fording place. A little southwest of the point where the trail on the Eversole farm crossed the river certain peculiarities of formation in some of the mounds suggested artificial work and led to excavation. The result, as above stated, was the uncovering of many human skulls and other parts of human frames. On exposure to the air most of the bones crumbled to dust, but some retained their forms long enough to show a physician and anatomist of the part, Dr. W.H. Ninmon, that they belong to a race different from the European, and probably to aborigines or Indians. Everything about the place indicated that it was not an ordinary burial ground. Together with the great number of stone implements of war - arrow and spearheads, fragments of hatchets, and war clubs - found at different times in the vicinity, the trail and ford commanded on either side of the river by morainic bluffs, all told of a savage battle of a past century, long anterior of the advent of civilized men.

The Holy of Holies to the early Maritime Archaic (iroquois) who inhabited Noble county for thousands of years was this sacred spring that marks the headwaters of the Elhart River that flows west towards Lake Michigan.  Two mounds flank each side of the spring.

Over 300 historical accounts of giant human skeletons found in burial mounds and glacial kames.  Who were they, and where did they come from are all answered.  Discover what the Smithsonian Institute has tried to cover up for over 100 years.
Indiana tourism the State Archaeologists Don't Want You to Know About

Counties of Whitley and Noble Indiana, 1882, PG 15.
         This much has been given on the authority of Schoolcraft, Wilson, Pidgeon, Smucker, Foster and the     American Cyclopedia, to prepare the way for the classification and detailed description of the ancient earth and stone works in this country. No effort has been made in past year to gather together the prehistoric history of Noble County. No importance or value has been attached to disclosures of skeletons. The majority of citizens throughout the country regarding them as belong to the Indians, and, consequently, the mounds which have been opened in years past in different parts of the country were not carefully examined, and no doubt much interesting, and perhaps valuable information has been hopelessly lost. The works and their contents cannot be closely scrutinized, as very often nothing short of careful inspection will avoid overlooking important facts. About twenty-five years ago, a large mound situation on the old Jones’ farm, in northeastern Elkhart Township was leveled down, or nearly so, as it was in the way, and several bones were found, which the owner supposed to belong to animals. Nothing further was discovered. They were, beyond doubt, the bones of Mound BuildersSee Section 12 Elkhart Township. 
      On Section 2, Elkhart Township, on what is called Sandford’s Point, there are several mounds, one of which was opened some eight or ten years ago by the neighbors, who expected to unearth some valuable trinkets. Quite a number of bones were found, and these were scattered around on the surface of the ground, where they were left. No trinkets were found. An inferior maxillary bone found is said to have been remarkably large and sound.     
      On the farm of Jeremiah Noel, Section 1, Elkhart Township, three mounds was found situated so as to form the corners of a triangle, whose sides were 55, 42, and 30 yards, respectively. They were at a summit near the center of a semi-circular elevation that bounded a low marshy tract of land situated some forty feet lower the concave faces of the elevation lying toward the north. Two of the mounds were apparently about the same size, while the third was noticeably larger, having a basal diameter of some sixty feet, an altitude which notwithstanding that the road had once passed within a few feet of it, and that it had been cultivated over many years, was some three and half feet above the general level of the elevation. As near as possible, the summit of this mound was found, and an excavation about a yard square was made, cave being taken that all-important disclosures should be noticed. The soil was light, sandy loam with some gravel, and did not appear to be in layers. At the depth of about two feet, a small quantity of charcoal was found scattered through the soil, although no distinct layer of this material could be distinguished. Finally, at the depth of about three feet, unmistakable evidences of bone were disclosed. The shovel had struck through what afterward proved to be a human skull, and the thigh bone - the femur - was broken, and a potion thrown up. The diameter of the excavation was considerably enlarged, and the work was continued with great care. The covering of earth was removed, and a number of the heavier bones of a human skeleton were taken out in a brittle and decomposed state. Not more than a third of the bones of this skeleton could be found, the other, no doubt, having long since returned to dust. In the meantime, portions of other skeletons had been thrown out, and in, in order to get at the work better; the excavation was enlarged until it measured about seven feet in diameter. The work was continued, and, at the expiration of about ten hours, twenty-eight crumbling skeletons had been taken out. Some of the skeletons were in a fair state of preservation, while the majority was ready to fall to pieces, and actually did. The skulls were usually found resting upon the vertebrae, ribs, and pelvis, while the extremities were distinct from these. The evidences satisfied those present that the bodies had been buried in a sitting posture; and they must have been packed in like sardines, as they were all found within a circle whose diameter was about seven feet. No skeleton was found in its entirety, or, at least it could be distinguished from the other bones with which it was mingled. The skulls were the only means of ascertaining the number of individuals buried, and this in a few instances was not absolutely reliable, as some evidences of additional skulls were found. Eight or ten bodies, in addition to those counted, might have been buried in the mound, all traces of which had been removed by time, the destroyer. Beyond questions, the skeletons of three or four children were unearthed, as the small fragile skulls and diminutive bones clearly indicated. While may of the larger bones were almost wholly decayed, many of the smaller were in an excellent state of preservation. Many of the metatarsal and metacarpal bones were almost as sound as when first buried. The cuneiform, pisiform, trapezium, patella, scaphoid, os calcis, was found. The vertebrae, ribs, and skulls of children were found. The skeletons of at least two women were among the number, one of the skull beings carried away by the writer. Not half the necessary number of bones could be found to complete the osseous structure of twenty-eight individuals. The teeth were generally sound, yet some of these were found badly decomposed. One bone - a femur- had undoubtedly been fractured or broken during the life of the individuals, as around it about five inches above the knee joint was quite an enlarged. Neither trinkets nor implements of any kind were found. Growing upon this mound a few years ago was a yellow oak about fifteen inches in diameter, but this had been removed before the mound was opened. Those present at the opening were satisfied that the skeleton of men, women and children were taken out. One of the skulls and a few bones traced as belong to it differed materially from all the others, both in point of preservation and development, it has but little of that dark interfacing that precedes decay. It was much higher than either of the others, having a splendid development at the organs of veneration and benevolence, and a noticeable lack of animal development at the base of the skull. All the bones of the skeleton were thick and sound. This skeleton undoubtedly belongs to an important personage, and probably those buried with him were members of his own family, or his servants, or both. It was in truth a fine looking head for a savage - too fine a one to belong to a save, or phrenology is at fault. The frontal development was not large; it was rather small compared with the general formation of the cranium. It was probably the “Medicine Man” (if the Mound Builders had such humbug). This skull may be seen among Mr. Walter P. Denney’s collection at Albion.
       Three mounds situated about a half mile south of Rome City, on the farm of John W. Tealwere also opened. They were also arranged to form the corners of a triangle, the sides being seventy, forty-three and thirty-five years respectively. The first and largest mound was found to contain no evidences whatever - not even charcoal. It was probably a memorial mound, having been constructed to commemorate some important tribal event. Each of the other mounds was found to contain at least one skeleton and one of them probably two, as bones were found at such a distance apart as to lead to their conclusion. Perhaps nine-tenths of each skeleton had entirely disappeared, as but a few small fragments were found. A sufficient quantity was found, however, to prove its bony character, and to establish the fact beyond cavil that the bones were human. In each of the mounds containing skeletons was found charcoal, noticeably so in one of them, were a heavy stratum, including ashes and well preserved pieces of half charred wood resembling ash, was found entirely covering the spot where the skeleton reposed. From this mound, in close proximity to the few crumbling bones, were found two small trinkets.
      One of the other mounds was opened, and about a peck of charcoal was found, from which was taken a small piece of charred bone, possibly being a portion of the tibia, but more probably belong to some animal. In this mound distinct layers of clay and loam, alternating with those of sand, were clearly distinguishable. The charcoal was in a stratum that extended over some two or three square yards of surface, and was resting upon a hard pan of half burned clay, which seemed to have been built in the form of a small truncated mound, a foot and a half high and some four feet square. Resting upon this was the charcoal and a few charred stones and the piece of charred bone. This mound belongs to the sacrificial class. One was a piece of mica, about two inches square, and a third of an inch thick, which after a few hours split into thin transparent layers. The other was a slate ornament, nearly four inches long and about half an inch wide. The edges being straight and on one side smooth, while the other was oval, thus varying the thickness from a quarter of an inch at the ends to a half at the middle. Quite a large boulder was taken fro one of these mounds, and around its lower edge a small quantity of decayed bone-dust was found.
      A large mound in a cultivated field on Section 4, York Township, was opened, and portions of three skeletons were taken out. The skulls were well preserved, as were the ribs and some other parts. The customary charcoal was found, but no trinkets or implements. The teeth were sound, and the bony base of the skull in two cases were taken out entirely. Appearances seemed to indicate that the bodies had been buried either on the back or the side, as the vertebrae extended out in the sane some distance from the skull. The fragments of bone found in the mound of Rome City were upright, and portions of the cranium found were some distance, perhaps a foot or more, above the bones of the lower extremities. The reverse was the case in northern Elkhart and York. Two large mounds were opened in the woods on Section 1 Sparta Township, but no bones, charcoal, or ashes were found. The soil here was not as dry and mellow as is usually found constituting the mounds. It was heavy sand and clay, there being a sufficient quantity of the latter to retain considerable water. If the skeletons had been buried in such a soil, they would have decayed in a comparatively short space of time. The soil at the Noel mound was quite dry and mellow, more like the dust of the road. The members of the Davenport Academy of Sciences, discussing this question, say that “bones are often thrown into conditions that remain constant, and so will last for ages”. They cite several cases coming under their observation to prove this, and even go so far as to mention the case of a mound opened in Louisa County, Iowa, where the stench was almost unendurable, showing that the fleshy portions had but just decayed. The mound in this case was undoubtedly prehistoric.

     In Section 1, Sparta Township, on a low piece of land, which extended into a marsh that was still lower; evidences of what might be pottery were discovered. No pieces larger than some four inches square have been found. The land is a cultivated field, and at every fresh plowing many small fragments are thrown out. The fragments are composed of dark clay, and seem to have been pressed into a desired form and thickness of one-fourth of an inch, and then partially baked. Large quantities of small stones, discolored by fire and smoke, are found scattered over the ground. The writer had thought some old cabin had been built on the site and that the stones and burnt clay might have composed the chimney; but there are some strong objections to the view of the case. The oldest settlers who have lived in the vicinity since the county was first organized knew nothing of such a cabin, and state that the earth and stone at the point were in early years much as they are at present. One thing is certain: The earth comprising the so-called pottery, is totally dissimilar to that composing the land where it is found, and must have been transported there, either from the adjacent marsh or from some distant low land where such clay is found. These and other facts lead the writer to believe that the spot was used as a site for the manufacturing of pottery, and the portions found are the castaway fragments. This spot is situated half a mile southeast of the above referred mounds that were opened. Directly east from the spot, distant perhaps ten rods, and on the same knoll, was found an ancient mound, which was opened, but nothing noteworthy was unearthed.

Indian burial mound located adjacent to Eagle Lake on a small stream that is undercutting the mound.

     On the northwest corner of the farm of Jacob Weigel, Washington Township, and within twenty rods of the residence of Michael Bouse, a large mound in a cornfield was opened by the writer. This was opened in the usual way by making a perpendicular excavation at the summit. Great care was taken to notice everything. The soil and surroundings were very similar to those of the large Elkhart mound. A half dozen small pieces of charcoal were found about six inches above the skeletons, but no implements were found, save a fragment of pottery about three by four inches, one side evidently being the rim of an earthen vessel. This fragment did not seem to be among the bones, but was at least six inches above them. It is the opinion of the writer that it was a castaway portion of some vessel, and got mingled with the earth when the mound was built. It resembles, in every respect, the fragments found in the northeastern Sparta Township. Portions of sixteen skeletons were unearthed, as was proved by the skulls, though their preservation was less perfect than those of the Elkhart mound were. In other respects they were very much the same.  There was at least the skeleton of one child present, as was proven by the vertebrae. If female skeletons were present, such fact was not disclosed. The bones of the extremities were better preserved. The teeth were also quite sound, some being found where the maxillary bones had entirely decayed, saves a small quantity of powder. Standing upon this mound was the stump of an oak about fifteen inches in diameter; a small distance southeast of this a small sacrificial mound was opened, and as much as a bushel of charcoal was thrown out; nothing else of importance was seen. A member of the historical force opened a mound in the Salem Church Cemetery, Washington Township, but discovered nothing save a considerable quantity of charcoal. Mr. Denney opened two mounds on the farm of Samuel Myers, Orange Township, both containing nothing but Charcoal; he also opened three more near there, on the farm of Otis Grannis, one of them being eight feet in height and about eighty feet in diameter at the base. Three quite well preserved skeletons were taken from the mound, one of the skulls being almost in entirety, and having a much better frontal development than the average. On this mound was an oak tree four feet in diameter and probably more than three hundred years old. This mound is probably the largest in the county. Two other mounds near it, of average size, contained a bed of charcoal each. 

Grannis burial mound site is one of the few sites left were three mounds can still be seen.  University archaeologists visited the site and dug a huge hole through the top. 

This is one of the two smaller crematory mounds at the Grannis Site.  These two smaller mounds were missed by the university archaeologists who came in the summer when the undergrowth would have hidden the mounds, thus saving them.

     Mr. Denney, assisted by his brother Orville, opened three more on the bank of Skinner’s Lake, Jefferson Township, and took from one a quantity of human bones; but this mound had been opened a number of years ago by novices in the neighborhood, who used no particular care either to observe or preserve, and the number of individuals buried there is unknown, though these were several. The other two mounds contained charcoal.

. . . It has been told that the writer, on very good authority, that a mound in Washington Township was opened a number of years ago, from which were taken, besides skeletons, a number of copper ornaments or trinkets. . .

Another mound was located south of the Grannis mound on Cree Lake, I was unable to confirm if it is still there. It is described in the following history.

History of Angling Road

About three miles north of Kendallville, on the sharp bend in the Angling Road, referred to by local residents as the “Clemm Woods”, now owned by Harmon Kreigher, an Indian Settlement was established in the early pioneer days. She, too, was located on an Indiana trading point owned by Marseilles. The shrewd Marseilles, in order to inspire friendship and confidence of the Indians, insuring not only the safety of his store, but the benefits to be derived from Indiana trade, established here also an Indiana burying ground. It was during the existence of this trading point that the mail route from White Pigeon to Fort Wayne was operated. Marseilles made some visible pretense at protecting the Indian burying ground and the Indians were pleased and flattered. Were excavations made in these woods today, without a doubt, the skeletons of Indians, and Indian relics, would be found. It is reputed that here, too, have been found evidences, in the way of earthworks, implements and ornaments, of the ancient Mound Builders. No Kreigher could be found, however, there is a Henry Kruger in the sharp bend of the Angling Road. No mounds were found. See plat map.

Indiana Geological Report, 1875
      Subsequently Mr. G.C. Glatte, of Kendallville, took us eight miles north, to the farm of E. Shaddock, on      the west side of Cree Lake, where a group of seven mounds are located. on a tract of land of about twenty acres. The largest and central mound of the group is sixty feet in an east-west direction, and twenty-five feet north south. Six others of smaller dimensions, are located about the central mound, at unequal distances from it and each other, arranged without the least reference to any apparent plan or system.
        With the assistance of Charles Weingart, a neighboring farmer, two excavations were made in the largest mound, about twenty feet from either end. In each excavation, on the surface level upon which the mound was built, a human skeleton was found; in both instances, they were lying with heads to the north on the right side, facing west.  The bones had become so softened by long exposure in the ground that it was impossible to raise any single bone entirely. In the west opening, Caleb Cooke, with patient care, removed the earth from about the cranium and took it up in pieces, which, after drying, were glued together, making the specimen almost complete. In the cranium, just referred to, the temporal bone, left side, had been crushed through, leaving an irregular hole about one and half inches in diameter; within the skull, with sand that filled the cavity, two small balls or cakes of clay was used as a dressing for the wound or to high the ugly scar at the time of burial.
      From the opening in the west end, the cranium was removed entirely without disturbing the enclosed, compact, wet sand; it was carefully packed in sawdust and brought to the state museum in good condition. Evidences of fire--ashes, small bits of charcoal and calcined earth - were found in this mound, but no implements or vessels--want of time prevented the examination of other mounds in this group.

The Schoolhouse Road mound sits in the same drainage to Cree Lake.  It does not appear to be dug into and was probably close to the original size of the Grannis mound, before being partially destroyed by archaeoogists.

Returning to Kendallville by another route, several mounds were seen on a bluff, which skirts the marsh around Turkey Lake, near Wolcottville, in Lagrange County.

      Four miles southeast of Kendallville, on the land of Mrs. Ann Field, there is an oval mound about 125 feet high. It is in the woods and covered with trees of the same size as those on adjacent land. About forty rods distant, there are several smaller mounds; some of which have been opened, yielding stone axes, arrow points, and fragments of charcoal.

A Noble County plat map showing the location of the Ann Field property and mound.

 The Ann Field mound is actually of natural origin, but the small artificial mounds show a burial transition of the early Iroquois from glacial kames to mounds. It is important to note that this ground with its natural spring and the headwaters to the Elkhart River would have been very sacred. It was a natural place for them to have placed their dead. 

Near the Field mound is this conical glacial kame where burials have been reported to have been found . This mound is also situated in the drainage divide.

History of Northeast Indiana
    A number of years ago M.F. Owen excavated a mound situated in a piece of woodland, on the east shore of the first “West Lake: on the north side of the old highway. On this mound had grown a large white oak tree, which, having just been felled, showed a growth of between 300 and 400 years. Among the roots of the tree were unearthed a skeleton in a sitting posture, facing west, the bones of which crumbled rapidly when exposed to the air. There was found and preserved a root which had grown apparently into the ear orifice of the skull, afterwards emerging through the eye, and firmly attached thereto is a well preserved piece of the frontal bone, showing great development above the eyes.

Jefferson Township “What History“
     Mounds have been found containing human skeletons. Those examined are situated near the northeast shore of Sweet and Skinner Lakes.

    Chain of Lakes Mound located on trail #1 on the high ground between two lakes. Mound has been nearly destroyed by IPFW  archaeologists in Fort Wayne. Their resident grave robber took his reports and artifacts with him when he left the university and so no information exists.

The Iroquois burial mound at Chain of Lakes has been nearly destroyed by IPFW archaeologist. It is situated on a Hogback overlooking two lakes. The mound is off of trail #1, but in the summer it is hidden by underbrush.