St. Lawrence County, New York Ancient Mounds and Earthworks

St. Lawrence County, New York Ancient Mounds and Earthworks

Terra cotta mask of one of the mound builders who resided in St. Lawrence County, New York

       A few aboriginal monuments are said to have existed in this county. One or two of these occurred near Pottsdam; but it is probable they are now nearly, if not quite, obliterated.
A mound, eight feet in height, still exists on St. Regis Island, in the St. Lawrence River. It is crossed by the boundary line separating the territories of the United States and Great Britain. It was excavated by Col. Hawkins, of the United States Boundary Commission, in 1818. Near the surface were human bones in considerable numbers, and in good preservation; but at the base were found traces of fire, charcoal, burned bones, and fragments of pottery, together with some stone implements and ornaments.

     Upon the Canada shore of the St. Lawrence River, opposite Morrisville in this county, a singular aboriginal deposit was discovered some years ago, in making the excavations for the St. Lawrence Canal. The principal facts concerning them were communicated to the author by Dr. T. Reynolds, of Brockville, C. W., and are embodied in Vol. I. of the "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge," pp. 201, 202.

     Amongst the relics of copper and other materials discovered at this spot and described as above, was a small terra cotta mask of very good workmanship. An engraving of the size of the original is herewith presented (Fig. 1). Mr. Reynolds, who has the relic in his possession, describes it as follows: "It is of clay, and represents the contour of the Indian head, after which it appears to have been moulded. It corresponds very nearly in shape with the skulls discovered at the same place, and the foramina, or holes found in the skull, are well represented,—showing that it was modelled to resemble the bony structure of the head, not the flesh or living subject. It seems to have been broken off from some idol or image."