Circular Indian Mounds and Effigies Near Saukville Wisconsin

Circular Indian Mounds and Effigies Near Saukville Wisconsin





A few circular mounds, but no other works, are found near Saukville, on the Milwaukee River, in Ozaukee County. At this place was discovered one of the most regular and best finished stone axes that we have obtained. A little further west, on the road to Newburgh, is a group of oblong embankments, occupying the end and flanks of a ridge, as represented on  Here is a mound established, as is usual, on the highest point; and if the forest were removed, it would command a very extensive view of the surrounding country. Whether the peculiar arrangement of these oblong elevations is the result of design or accident, is not easily determined. There can be little doubt that the place was a station for a look-out, or post of a sentinel, whose duty it might be to give notice of the approach of an enemy, or perhaps to detect the presence of game in the country. The earthworks are not of such magnitude, nor are they so arranged, as to justify the conclusion that they constituted a work of defence; and they may be only receptacles of the last remains of some distinguished persons.
On the south side of the Milwaukee River, in the town of Trenton, are several groups of works not visited by me. One of them, surveyed by my friend, Mr. L. L. Sweet, is represented on Plate X., and, as described by him, consists of a turtle, two crosses, two club-shaped, three oblong, and five conical mounds. They are situated on lots numbered six and seven, of section eighteen, in township eleven, and range twenty. “I carefully noted,” says Mr. Sweet, “the dimensions, &c., of the most important of these mounds, and send you the result. The largest cruciform figure is one hundred and eighty-five feet in length of trunk; the head, twenty-four feet long; the arms, seventy-two feet each; the height at the head, three feet ten inches; at the centre, four feet six inches. Uniform width of the head at the base, twenty-eight feet. The shaft gradually diminished in height and width to a point at the end. The appearance is that of a cross sunk in light earth, in which the lower extremity is still buried beneath the surface. I was forcibly struck with the fact that the arms were of exactly equal length, and at right angles to the trunk. I felt and said, Here is order and design; but what that design is, we probably never shall know. Is it possible that the people who constructed these works found their way to this continent after the Christian Era? Perhaps not; yet curiosity will make the inquiry. Two round mounds near the foot of this cross are each three feet high, and twenty and twenty-two feet in diameter at the base. The oblong bears N. 22° E., and is sixty-eight feet long, twenty-two wide, and four feet five inches high; the ends are square.”
“The smaller cross is one hundred and sixty feet long; the head, twenty-two feet; the arms, each fifty-one feet; the height two feet eight inches. It terminates in a point, and resembles the large one in every respect. The body of the “turtle” is twenty-two feet long, and fifteen feet wide; the head, four feet long; the height three feet eight inches. It has but three legs, one of which seems to have been left unfinished or destroyed. The head is towards the river. There are some other small mounds in the vicinity, not represented on the plate. The ground on which  these works are situated has a gentle inclination towards the river, the banks of which are about three and a half feet high; the water has but a moderate current. The soil is composed of a dark sand, with a slight admixture of loam.”
I am further indebted to Mr. Sweet for a survey and brief notice of the group of works on section thirty-one, township twelve, range twenty, represented on  They consist mostly of ridges of earth from three to four feet high, and from twelve to fifteen feet wide at the base, and are of various lengths. They are supposed to have been originally square at the ends, but now are rounded by the effects of rain, &c. One mound, one hundred and thirty-two feet in length, is shaped like a war-club. “It has been asserted,” says Mr. Sweet, “that this was a regular fort, being an inclosure; but on a careful examination, I find it is not so. The long mound (thirty-two rods in length) with another at right angles to it, upon a hasty examination, might suggest that idea; but the full survey shows that the conclusion would be a wrong one. The land here and for some distance around is level, the soil sandy, lightly timbered with iron-wood (Ostrya virginica) and sugar maple, with no large trees. There are no streams of water within half a mile of these mounds.” The last mentioned circumstance is rather unusual.