Indian Prairie Effigy and Burial Mounds and Garden Beds

Map of Indian Prairie Mounds with Location of Garden Beds



Although this spot has long since ceased to be the residence of an Indian population, yet it is annually visited by a few families, and numerous traces of their presence are still visible. Many of the mounds have been opened for the burial of the remains of Indians recently deceased; and we saw on one mound three graves but lately formed. They were secured from the ravages of the wolves and other animals, by logs of wood held in their places by four stakes, in the manner represented on  Only one kind of wood is used on the same grave, there being no mixture of different trees on any. One grave was covered with logs of iron-wood (Ostrya virginica), the other two with those of oak; even the stakes are of the same wood as the logs. These logs were from four to six inches in diameter, and four and a half feet long. The grounds in the neighborhood, and for some distance north and south of the ravines forming the boundaries of the more ancient works, are covered with those common mammillary elevations known as “Indian corn-hills.” They are without order of arrangement, being scattered over the surface with the utmost irregularity. That these hillocks were formed in the manner indicated by their name, is inferred from the present custom of the Indians. The corn is planted in the same spot each successive year, and the soil is gradually brought up to the size of a little hill by the annual additions. This is the work of the women.
At the southern extremity of these remains, another evidence of former cultivation occurs, consisting of low, broad, parallel ridges, as if corn had been planted in drills. They average four feet in width, twenty-five of them having been counted in the space of a hundred feet; and the depth of the walk between them is about six inches. These appearances, which are here denominated “ancient garden-beds,” indicate an earlier and more perfect system of cultivation than that which now prevails; for the present Indians do not appear to possess the ideas of taste and order necessary to enable them to arrange objects in consecutive rows. Traces of this kind of cultivation, though not very abundant, are found in several other parts of the State.