Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Ancient Giants of Kosciusko County, Indiana

The Ancient Giants of Kosciusko County, Indiana

Historic map showing the locations of Indian burial mounds in Kosciusko County, Indiana More giant skeletons in Indiana : Eight Foot Giant Skeleton Discovered in Huntington County, Indiana Burial Mound

Northern Indianian, April 23, 1881
     “On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week Mr. O.P. Joquest had a number of hands employed in removing dirt from a strip of ground belonging to him lying between the C.W. & A.M. R.R. and the Goshen Wagon Road, in the northeast party of this city.
     “While so engaged on Tuesday they found four human skeletons that had evidently been buried in a trench, their bodies in a recumbent attitude, and after they had been covered with about one foot of dirt, another body had been buried on top of that in a sitting posture.
    “A short time after another trench was uncovered in which thirteen bodies had been interred, they have evidently been laid in regular. They were all ages and both sexes.
    “On Wednesday two more bodies were found lying near each other, one having a piece of mica (or isinglass) over his face. A piece about six inches long and four inches wide was secured intact and is now in Dr. Moro’s possession. “A flint arrowhead and a stone about three inches long, one and half inches wide and nearly a half inch thick with a hole bored through the center were also found in the same skeleton.
“There is evidence of fire in the trenches, and two small pieces of what has evidently been a human skull burned to a substance resembling charcoal has been found. It seems that cremation was practiced long ago.
    “Who were these people? The arrowhead and the peculiar shaped stone were common among the Indians and are frequently found in Indian graves; but the head of these skeletons are remarkable from the contrast between them and those of the Indians or white, or indeed of any known race.
Skull with protruding brow ridges and sloped foreheads were common finds in burial mounds across northern Indiana.  In addition was the large size of many of the skeletal remains.

A skull of an old man shows little evidence of intellectual powers: the forehead rising nearly one half inch above the eyebrows, but is very narrow transversely. The back part of the head and the width between the ears is immense.
“The skull of a young woman shows absolutely no forehead at all. When alive a straight stick lay flat on her head would have touched her eyebrows and the crown of her head.

“The skull of the man that had the sheet of mice over his face is about halfway, as far as intelligence is concerned between the two.
    “A peculiar thing about the piece of mice is that it appears to have been set in an iron frame. As the entire circumference is covered with a thick coat of iron rust. Professor Moro made an analysis of the substance in order to be certain in regards to it, and it is unmistakably iron.
     “Another remarkable thing about the skull of these skeletons is their wonderful thickness. The adult skulls all of them at least one fourth of an inch in thickness, some of these more than that. A thigh bone has been got out, that shows the owner of it was at least six feet tall.
“The place where they were buried was marked by three small mounds standing close together and for years the project has been frequently discussed digging into them and discussing their contents.

History of Kosciusko County, Source Unknown
     In our Oakwood Cemetery, there are several mounds overlooking the lake, situated on top of a bluff.
Indian burial mound located in the Oakwood cemetery.

History of Noble County, 1912
     The most important mound opened was one west of Indian Village, and as it is just across the line in Kosciusko County, but little will be said about it there; it was undoubtedly a sacrificial mound, as besides a bed of charcoal, there were found many fragments of charred human bones, as pieces of half burned skulls and other permanent bones of human beings. clearly charred. Turtle skulls and various other bones belong to that animal and others were found among the remains, and perhaps half a peck of these half burned fragments were unearthed.

Wheels of Time, pg 71, Ervin Stuntz
     “As we walk this trail to the north and west from Palestine Lake, we enter the timberland of Elizabeth Hoct in the southwest part of the northwest quarter of Section 9 (chief To-Pash’s village is here). In 1982, we walked in that deeply worn trail. Some places it forms a road bed twelve feet wide and three feet deep.”

Hopewell Indian burial mound located near Packerton, Indiana in Kosckisco County.

“No history exists on this mound two miles north of Packerton. According to locals it was scheduled for destruction by Indiana University, but kids kept pulling up the grid work. Without this sectioning of the mound these graver robbers were foiled and eventually abandoned the project ... saving the mound.

Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science, Vol. 51, 1942
A Cedar Point “Glacial Kame” Burial”, Eli Lilly, Indianapolis

In August of 1941, while excavating the basement of a summer home at Cedar Point on Lake Wawasee for Mr. Roland R. Schulz of Fort Wayne, a most interesting Indian skeleton was unearthed.
This site has rather a respectable history, for as early as 1882, one Mike Flowers, a squatter on the premises, dug up a skeleton accompanied by a British half-penny encrusted with a globular mass of green colored earth. No other facts are known about the burial, its depth, condition, or accompanying articles. The half-penny is now in the possession of Mr. J.E. D. Crow and has been pronounced by authorities at the Smithsonian Institution to have been struck between 1790 and 1810. The almost obliterated date on the coin seems to be 1795.
About 1923 Mr. T.D. Doll, while doing some grading for Mr. Thomas Snook, plowed up eight human skeletons and the bones of a dog. Several circular shell gorgets ranging from 3-3/4” to 4-11/16” in diameter, with central perforations of from 1/2” to 2/3” across were found. These gorgets had two holes near their peripheries for suspension. The skeletons were buried about eight feet beneath the surface in flexed positions.
Dr. W.N. Leonard of Fort Wayne has unearthed three skeletons and Mr. J.C. Craig another-all accompanied by shell gorgets of the same type.
A somewhat more serious archaeological “dig” on this location was conducted in 1931 through the courtesy of Mr. Snook. Five broken and burned rock fireplaces, a deeply buried semicircle of stones set in clay, and a shallow infant burial accompanied by one of the characteristic shell gorgets was about all that was discovered.
Mr. Bert Leifer, Mr. Schulz, and Mr. Snook should have full credit for making such careful records of the burial found in August, 1941 A most creditable job of unearthing, photographing, and recording the facts was carried out. The body was in a flexed position, a “sandal sole” shaped shell gorget 9-1/8” long with four perforations was on the chest. It was buried ten feet below the old ground level. There were no artifacts except the gorget. It was observed, however, that there was “just below the smaller end of the gorget, and running underneath it, a very dark brown or black deposit interwoven with a fibrous substance like roots which may have been the last races of some wooden implement or a tool handle.” Copper had been present as there were deep green copper stains on leg and arm bones.
The exciting thing about the burial is that all of the traits recorded parallel the so-called “Glacial Kame: burials in northern Ohio, southeastern Michigan, and northeastern Indiana. These include: deep, flexed burials, circular and “sandal sole” shell gorgets, presence of copper and no pottery. Red ocher and feather spreaders, sometimes accompanying “Glacial Kame” burials, are absent or at least have not yet been discovered.
According to Mr. Wilbur M. Cunningham of Benton Harbor, Michigan, who has made a great study of these “Glacial Kame” Burials, most of them occur in Hardin and Mercer counties, Ohio, across the line in Indiana in Allen and Wayne counties and near Winchester, Randolph County. Occasionally they are found as far afield as one in Alabama, three or four in Canda, and a few in artificial mounds in Illinois.
It seems to be the consensus of opinion that “Glacial Kame” burials are related to Hopewellian remains-one tubular and one platform pipe found with some of these remains giving additional authority to these conclusions. There are, however, many Adena and Hopewellian traits never exhibited by “Glacial Kame” interments.
An examination of the 1941 Leifer-Schulz-Snook skeletal material by Mr. Georg Neumann of the University of Michigan showed that the individual belonged to the Gooden type, a sub-class of the Sylvid racial group. To this type the “Glacial Kame” skulls belong but it also includes the Central Algonquins, namely: The Illinois, Miami, and Potawatomie. Mr. Neumann reports that the skull is a little closer to the Central Algonquins than to the Glacial Kame: Two large fragments of one skull rescued from the right plowed up in 1923 were classed with the 1941 skull.
The crucial question in this instance is what relation the British half-penny burial discovered in 18821 bears to the 1941 discovery. It is needless to say that nothing definite can be concluded now but with Messrs. Leifer, Schulz, and Snook on the ground constantly, the problem may yet be solved.
I should like to submit, though, that there are more chances that all of these burials are closely related than not, for:
(1) At least on in the group of eight of 1923 was the same type as the 1941 skeleton.
(2) There is very little evidence in northeastern Indiana and especially in the lake region of occupation during the Hopewellian period.
(3) It is a historic fact that there were not many Indians in these parts until after the beginning of the 18th century when they were brought into the region by the French to buffer the Iroquois tribes)-English allies.
(4) The bones of 1941 were “in an excellent state of preservation looking almost like dissecting room specimens.” Too much dependence cannot be put in this because the sandy alkaline soil would tend to preserve skeletal material well.
(5) The 1941 skull is close in relationship to the Central Algonquins, Illinois, Miami, and Potawatomie.


There are several possible conclusions:
a. That “Glacial Kame” burials are historic Central Algonquin circa 1750-1800.
b. That certain “Glacial Kame” traits were at least in this one instance carried down from Hopwellian times to some historic Central Algonquin tribe or tribes.
c. That the half-penny skeleton of 1882 and that of 1941 were unrelated and the latter is a “Glacial Kame” burial of Hopewellian exraction.
Perhaps additional proof will be forthcoming in the future, but at least the discovery raises the question of the antiquity of “Glacial Kame” burials.

A Standard History of Kosciusko County, 1919
Accounting for Bone Prairie”

Bone Prairie, owned by Musquawbuck, was so called by the white settlers from the fact that when they first saw it the ground was literally covered with human bones. For many years afterward, they not only littered the surface, but were plowed up in large numbers as the soil was turned by the pioneer husbandmen. According to the legend narrated to the early settlers by Granny Benack, the centenarian squaw, in the long-ago, when the Miamis and the Potawatomies were the mighty peoples of the upper Mississippi valley and the northern lakes, a young Pottawatomie on a visit to a Miami village killed a prominent member of the latter tribe. He escaped to his home in the vicinity of what is now Bone Prairie, and soon afterward delegates from the outraged Miamis arrived there, demanding that the offender be punished according to their laws. The Pottawatomies went into council and rejected the demands, the result of which was an invasion of the country in force by the Miamis. The hostile warriors met on Bone Prairie, and a fierce battle ensued in which the advantage is said to have rested with the Pottawatomies, notwithstanding that the legend was filtered through the personality of Granny Benack, the ancient Miami.

Another story is also told to account for the large bone supply of the prairie. It is said that when the Musquawbuck tribe was quite large smallpox broke out among its members, and soon became a sweeping and fatal epidemic. To add to its mortality, the victims frenzied by the intense fever which accompanied the malady, would plunge into Tippecanoe Lake and river. The few who escaped the pestilence fled in horror, leaving the stricken to die and the dead to waste away to skeletons.

Undoubtedly, there must have been some such unusual fatalities as these to account for the presence of Bone Prairie.

The Jethro Greider Farm, 1945

During July, 10931, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Mr. Jethro A. Greider, who has a most interesting farm in the northern part of the southeast quarter of Section 36 in the southeast corner of Turkey Creek Township, Kosciusko County. Portions of this farm were evidently very heavily inhabited by Indians.

By referring to the map you will see a general layout of the farm. The east end, comprising the three eight-acre fields, is more or less level. West of this, however, it is rather rolling, and at the wet end is Spear Lake, a beautiful little body of water down in a natural pocket.
A reference to the map will also show that a dozen or so fireplaces have been found in the central section of this farm, many of them having been plowed up.

In the fourteen-acre wooded lot, Mr. Greider has preserved one of these fireplaces in a pen, to protect it from stock. Photograph no 1 shows this fireplace, which is marked on the map as the top X.

In our explorations around the farm, we found an additional fireplace, marked on the map by the Central X on the bottom line, and since then one has shown up to the right of that, marked on the map by the right-hand X.

In this same wooded lot, close to the place marked by these X’s on the map, the ground had a bumpy appearance, which is well illustrated in photograph no. 2. Mr. Greider had always thought this was a garden bed or a cemetery.

Among these hillocks, two trenches were laid out, each 5 feet wide and 50 feet long. These were located approximately at the point marked Y on the map. These trenches were staked of into five-foot squares and were dug approximately 18 inches deep. These were illustrated by photographs nos. 3 and 4. Near the northwest corner of the two trenches, cracked and burned rock was found a little below the surface of the ground. Near the south edge, a little east of the center, a piece of Flint Ridge flint was dug up about 6 inches below the surface. In the extreme southeast corner, a part of an arrowhead was discovered 14 inches under the surface, and about 8 feet from the east end of the center of the two trenches a flint knife was located 12 inches below the surface.

After digging out and smoothing off the bottom of these trenches, there were no evidences of the earth having been disturbed below this line. In order to check this, a trench 2-1/2 feet wide and 20 feet long was dug down the center, east and west, to about 5 or 6 feet below the surface, and no further indications found.

North of this wooded lot were four acres planted in corn. At the southeast corner of this plot, marked X on photograph no. 5, Mr. Greider had plowed up many flat slabs of stone, and many explanations as to their origin had been evolved. It occurred to us that these slabs might have been parts of stone graves, and trenches were made in that spot but no trace was found of any skeletal material or artifacts of any kind.

Upon examination of some pieces of the slabs found at this point, Mr. Gerard Fowke had the following remarks to make:

“It will require a chemical or miscroscopical examination to determine the exact character of the rock of which sent me a sample. It belongs far north; to the upper end of Michigan at the nearest. It is a schistose (metamorphous) rock, probably carried by the ice, as a boulder, to the place where you found it, and split into thin slabs by weathering and freezing - that is, moisture penetrated the lines of division, froze, and thus split it into slabs.”

The most intriguing phenomenon on the farm was the so-called “circle”, approximately 200 feet in diameter, found in the northeast corner of the west eight-acre field. Quite a distinct and rather regular circle exists, which Mr. Greider said was very much higher and plainer when he purchased the farm in 1907. It has always been thought that this might be a “circle” similar to the “circles” east of Anderson, or possibly a “hut circle” similar to the ones studied by Dr. Greenman in Michigan, eight of which appeared on the northern tributaries of the St. Joseph River basin, it was thought that it might possibly have been a “hut circle.” In this case, excavation would certainly reveal the collapsed wooden structures covered with earth and the various places where fires had been built by the Indians as well as other traces of habitation.

It was not until the summer of 1934 that a complete study was made of this “circle.” Then seven trenches were cut across the rim, each trench being 2 feet wide, 5 feet deep, and approximately 40 feet long. Photograph no. 6 shows these trenches. Individual pictures of each trench are also attached. Not a trace of any sort of log or sod line or remnant of any kind was found in any of them. In each end of trench no. 7, a black deposit was found rather close to each end. Photographs nos. 7 and 8 illustrates these places. Since the field had many hardwood stumps in it when Mr. Greider came into possession of it in 1907, we concluded that these spots were just the traces of old stumps, as a careful examination revealed no direct evidence of anything else. The inevitable conclusion, then, seems to be that this “circle” is a “sport” of nature.

Mr. Freider says that seven broken axes have been found in the immediate vicinity of this “circle” and approximately 100 arrowheads. He has a collection of a number of these, one of Iroquois type. His collection also contains a broken slate banner stone, three or four clubheads, and two or three rectangular slate forgets with one hole, and a quite large, five pound axe.