Friday, July 29, 2011

Shawnee and Cherokee and the Ancient Stone Graves

Shawnee and Cherokee and the Ancient Stone Graves


      In order to state clearly the argument based upon these works it is necessary to present a brief explanation.

      There are several forms and varieties of stone graves or cists found in the mound area, some being of cobble stones, others of slabs; some round, others polygonal; some dome-shaped, others square, and others box shaped, or parallelograms. Reference is made at present only to the last mentioned—the box shaped type, made of stone slabs. If the evidence shows that this variety is found only in certain districts, pertains to a certain class of works, and is usually accompanied by certain types of art, we are warranted in using it as an ethnic characteristic, or as indicating the presence of particular tribes. If it can be shown that graves of this form are found in mounds attributed to the so- called mound-builders, and that certain tribes of Indians of historic times were also accustomed to bury in them, we are warranted in assuming that there was a continuity of custom from the mound-building age to historic times, or that graves found in the mounds are probably attributable to the same people (or allied tribes) found using them at a later date. This conclusion will be strengthened by finding that certain peculiar types of art are limited to the regions where these graves exist, and are found almost exclusively in connection with them.

       These graves, as is well known, are formed of rough and unhewn slabs or flat pieces of stone, thus: First, in a pit some 2 or 3 feet deep and of the desired dimensions, dug for the purpose, a layer of stone is placed to form the floor; next, similar pieces are set on edge to form the sides and ends, over which other slabs are laid flat, forming the covering, the whole when finished making a rude, box-shaped coffin or sepulcher. Sometimes one or more of the six faces are wanting; occasionally the bottom consists of a layer of water-worn bowlders; sometimes the top is not a single layer of slabs, but other pieces are laid over the joints, and sometimes they are placed shingle-fashion. These graves vary in length from 14 inches to 8 feet, and in width from 9 inches to 3 feet.

       It is not an unusual thing to find a mound containing a number of those cists arranged in two, three, or more tiers. As a general rule, those not in mounds are near the surface of the ground, and in some instances even projecting above it. It is probable that no one who has examined them has failed to note their strong resemblance to the European mode of burial. Even Dr. Joseph Jones, who attributes them to some "ancient race," was forcibly reminded of this resemblance, as he remarks:

In looking at the rude stone coffins of Tennessee, I have again and again been impressed with the idea that in some former age this ancient race must have come in contact with Europeans and derived this mode of burial from them. [Footnote: Aboriginal Remains of Tennessee, pp. 34,35]

         The presence of stone graves of the type under consideration in the vicinity of the site of some of the "over hill towns" of the Cherokees on the Little Tennessee River, presented a difficulty in the way of the theory here advanced, as it is well known that the Cherokees and Shawnees were inveterate enemies from time immemorial. But by referring to Schoolcraft's History of the Indians the following statement solves the riddle and confirms the theory:

          A discontented portion of the Shawnee tribe from Virginia broke off from the nation, which removed to the Scioto country, in Ohio, about the year 1730, and formed a town known by the name of Lulbegrud, in what in now Clark County [Kentucky], about 30 miles east of this place [Lexington]. This tribe left this country about 1730 and went to East Tennessee, to the Cherokee Nation. [Footnote: Vol. 1, p. 301.]

Some years ago Mr. George E. Sellers discovered near the salt spring in Gallatin County, Ill., on the Saline River, fragments of clay vessels of unusually large size, which excited much interest in the minds of antiquarians, not only because of the size of the vessels indicated by the fragments, but because they appeared to have been used by some prehistoric people in the manufacture of salt and because they bore impressions made by some textile fabric. In the same immediate locality were also discovered a number of box-shaped stone graves. That the latter were the work of the people who made the pottery Mr. Sellers demonstrated by finding that many of the graves were lined at the bottom with fragments of these large clay "salt pans." [Footnote: Popular Science Monthly, vol. II, 1877, pp. 573-584.]

Mention of this pottery had been made long previously by J. M.
Peck in his "Gazetteer of Illinois." [Footnote: 1834, p. 52.]

He remarks that "about the Gallatin and Big Muddy Salines large fragments of earthenware are very frequently found under the surface of the earth. They appear to have been portions of large kettles used, probably, by the natives for obtaining salt."

Another very significant fact in this connection is that the fragments of large earthen vessels similar in character to those found in Gallatin County, Ill., have also been found in connection with the stone graves of the Cumberland Valley, and, furthermore, the impressions made by the textile fabrics show the same stitches as do the former. Another place where pottery of the same kind has been found is about the salt-lick near Saint Genevieve, Mo., a section inhabited for a time by Shawnees and Delawares. [Footnote: C.C. Royce in American Antiquarian, vol. 3, 1881, pp. 188, 189.]

Stone graves have been found in Washington County, Md. [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for 1882 (1884), p. 797.] History informs us that there were two Shawnee settlements in this region, one in the adjoining county of Maryland (Allegany), and another in the neighborhood of Winchester, Va. [Footnote: C. C. Royce in American Antiquarian, vol. 3, 1881, p. 186. Virginia State Papers, 1. p. 63.]

Mr. W. M. Taylor [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for 1877, p. 307. Mentions only known instance of mound with Delaware Village.] mentions some stone graves of the type under consideration as found on the Mahoning River, in Pennsylvania. An important item in this connection is that these graves were in a mound. He describes the mound as 35 feet in diameter and 5 feet high, having on one side a projection 35 feet long of the same height as the mound. Near by a cache was discovered containing twenty one iron implements, such as axes, hatchets, tomahawks, hoes, and wedges. He adds the significant statement that near the mound once stood the Indian (Delaware) village of Kush-kush-kee.

Graves of the same type have been discovered in Lee County, Va. [Footnote: Eleventh Report of the Peabody Museum, 1878, p. 208.] Others have been found in a mound on the Tennessee side, near the southern boundary of Scott County, Va. Allusion has already been made to the occasional presence of the Shawnees in this region. In the map of North America by John Senex, Chaonanon villages are indicated in this particular section.

     The presence of these graves in any part of Ohio can easily be accounted for on the theory advanced, by the well-known fact that both Shawnees and Delawares were located at various points in the region, and during the wars in which they were engaged were moving about from place to place; but the mention of a few coincidences may not be out of place.

In the American Antiquarian for July, 1881, is the description of one of these cists found in a mound in the eastern part of Montgomery County. Mr. Royce, in the article already referred to, states that there was a Shawnee village 3 miles north of Xenia, in the adjoining county, on Mad River, which flows into the Miami a short distance above the location of the mound.

       Stone graves have been found in great numbers at various points along the Ohio from Portsmouth to Ripley, a region known to have been occupied at various times by the Shawnees.

Similar graves have been discovered in Ashland County. [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for 1877, pp. 261-267.] These, as will be seen by reference to the same report (page 504), are precisely in the locality of the former Delaware villages.

         The evidence is deemed sufficient to show that the Shawnees and Delawares were accustomed to bury in stone graves of the type under consideration, and to indicate that the graves found south of the Ohio are to be attributed to the former tribe and those north to both tribes.

     As graves of this kind are common over the west side of southern Illinois, from the month of the Illinois to the junction of theOhio and Mississippi Rivers, attention is called to some evidence
bearing on their origin.
Hunter, who traveled in the West, says that some of the Indians he met with during his captivity buried their dead in graves of this kind.

      According to a statement made by Dr. Rau to Mr. C. C. Jones, and repeated to me personally, "it is a fact well remembered by many persons in this neighborhood [Monroe County, III.] that the Indians who inhabited this region during the early part of the present century (probably Kickapoos) buried their dead in stone coffins." [Footnote: Antiquities So. Indians, p. 220.]

       Dr. Shoemaker, who resided on a farm near Columbia, in 1861, showed Dr. Rau, in one of his fields, the empty stone grave of an Indian who had been killed by one of his own tribe and interred there within the memory of some of the farmers of Monroe County. An old lady in Jackson County informed one of the Bureau assistants that she had seen an Indian buried in a grave of this kind.

It is doubtful whether Dr. Rau is correct in ascribing these graves to the Kickapoos, as their most southern locality appears to have been in the region of Sangamon County. [Footnote: Reynolds's Hist. Illinois, p. 20.] It is more probable they were made by the Kaskaskias, Tamaroas, and Cahokias. Be this as it may, it is evident that they are due to some of the tribes of this section known as Illinois Indians, pertaining to the same branch of the Algonquin family as the Shawnees and Delawares.

         That the stone graves of southern Illinois were made by the same people who built those of the Cumberland Valley, or closely allied tribes, is indicated not only by the character of the graves but by other very close and even remarkable resemblances in the construction and contents as well as in the form and size of the mounds; the presence of hut-rings in both localities, and the arrangement of the groups.

       Taking all the corroborating facts together there are reasonable grounds for concluding that graves of the type now under consideration, although found in widely-separated localities, are attributable to the Shawnee Indians and their congeners, the Delawares and Illinois, and that those south of the Ohio are due entirely to the first named tribe. That they are the works of Indians must be admitted by all who are willing to be convinced by evidence.

      The fact that in most cases (except when due to the Delawares, who are not known to have been mound-builders) the graves are connected with mounds, and in many instances are in mounds, sometimes in two, three, and even four tiers deep, proves beyond a doubt that the authors of these graves were mound-builders.

       The importance and bearing of this evidence does not stop with what has been stated, for it is so interlocked with other facts relating to the works of the "veritable mound-builders" as to leave no hiatus into which the theory of a lost race or a "Toltec occupation" can possibly be thrust. It forms an unbroken chain connecting the mound-builders and historical Indians which no sophistry or reasoning can break. Not only are these graves found in mounds of considerable size, but they are also connected with one of the most noted groups in the United States, namely, the one on Colonel Tumlin's place, near Cartersville, Ga., known as the Etowah mounds, of which a full description will be found in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology.

        In the smallest of the three large mounds of this group were found stone graves of precisely the type attributable, when found south of the Ohio, to the Shawnees. They were not in a situation where they could be ascribed to intrusive burials, but in the bottom layer of a comparatively large mound with a thick and undisturbed layer of hard-packed clay above them. It is also worthy of notice that the locality is intermediate between the principal seat of the Shawnees in the Cumberland Valley, and their extreme eastern outposts in northeastern Georgia, where both tradition and stone graves indicate their settlement. The tradition regarding this settlement has been given elsewhere. [Footnote: Am. Antiq, vol. 7, 1885, p. 133]

        In these graves were found the remarkable figured copper plates and certain engraved shells, of which mention has been made by Mr. W. H. Holmes [Footnote: Science, vol. 3, 1884, pp. 436-438.] and by myself [Footnote: Ibid., pp. 779-785.] in Science. It is a singular corroboration of the theory here advanced that the only other similar copper plates were found at Lebanon, Tenn., by Prof. F. W. Putnam; in a stone grave in a mound at Mill Creek, southern Illinois, by Mr. Earle; in a stone grave in Jackson County, Ill., by Mr. Thing; in a mound of Madison County, Ill., by Mr. H. R. Howland; and in a small mound at Peoria, Ill., by Maj. J. W. Powell. All, except the specimens found by Professor Putnam and Mr. Howland, were secured by the Bureau of Ethnology, and are now in the National Museum.

There can be but little doubt that the specimens obtained from simple stone graves by Professor Putnam and Mr. Thing are to be attributed to Indian burials, but surely not to Indian manufacture.

We have, therefore, two unbroken chains connecting the Indians of historic times with the "veritable mound builders," and the facts which form the links of these chains throw some additional light on the history of that mysterious people, the Shawnees.

        It may be stated here that in the report relating to the claim of the Wabash Land Company [Footnote: American State Papers, Land Affairs, Appendix, p. 20.] is a statement giving a list of articles furnished the Indians, among which we notice nine ear wheels. These we suppose to be the same as the spool shaped ear ornaments found in stone graves and elsewhere.

      The engraved shells also form a link which not only connects the mound-builders with historic times but corroborates the view advanced in regard to the Shawnees, and indicates also that the Cherokees were mound-builders. But before introducing this we will give the reasons for believing that the mounds of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina are due to the last-named tribe.