Monday, August 15, 2011

Mound Builders in Arkansas



On Pemisscott Bayou

, 22 miles northwest of Osceola, on the farm of Samuel Hector, is a mound 20 feet in height, with a surface area of about one-fourth of an acre. The sides have been dug into extensively, but the central part remained untouched. It was composed of sand and bluish clay, but contained no remains of interest. It is stated by the proprietor that formerly there were three circular ditches extending around the slopes of the mound. When the surface of the mound was first plowed quantities of charcoal and potsherds were found.


This mound is situated at Chickasawba Village, 24 miles north of Osceola. It is 25 feet high, and covers an area of one-fourth of an acre.

Collectors had already done much work on this mound, but obtained little or nothing. The owner does not wish it disturbed further. A field of several acres near by abounds in fragments of pottery, stone implements, and the remains of houses and camp-fires.

The field contained originally many small mounds or heaps, which were probably the sites of houses. In a number of cases skeletons have been found beneath these heaps.


In Carson Lake township, 6 miles southwest of Osceola, on the farm of Hugh Walker, are three mounds, which were much disturbed by the earthquake that visited the New Madrid district in 1811.

The first one inspected is 59 feet wide by 75 feet long, but exhibits no evidence of having been a dwelling or burial place.

The second mound is about 100 yards from the first, and is circular in outline, having two ridge-like projections from opposite sides. It is 20 feet in height, and about 23 feet across at the top. A number of recent interments have been made near the summit.

The third mound is 250 yards from the preceding, and is 6 feet high, 34 feet wide, and 35 feet long. Six skeletons were found in this mound. A stratum of ashes, charcoal, and burned clay was associated with them. One cranium and a few bones were collected.


63049. Burnt clay from the third mound just described.

63052. Fragment of a plain vase; interior, reddish; exterior, yellowish-gray. Other fragments are of ordinary undecorated ware.


On the land of R. W. Friend, 1 mile west of the Mississippi River, are two mounds. The one first examined is 5 feet high and 150 feet in circumference. The other is 4 feet high and 75 feet in circumference. Two skeletons were found near the surface of the latter mound.

Near these mounds is another, 4 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. Formerly this mound was covered with large trees, and the roots have penetrated the soil, causing much injury to the contents. It is the opinion of the collector that this mound, as well as many others of the same region, has been used as a dwelling site, and that when a death occurred the dwelling was burned down over the body. Before building again the site was covered with a few inches of earth. There was no uniformity in the position of the graves or their contents. The following objects were obtained from this mound:


63009. A jar-shaped vase, with low neck and much compressed body. Height, 4 inches; width, 5½ inches; surface, moderately smooth; color, almost black.

63022. A jar similar to the preceding, but somewhat taller.

63046. A rather unusual form of bottle-shaped vase. The neck is narrow and tapering. A fillet with finger indentations encircles the lip. The base of the neck is also ornamented with a collar or fillet. The body is globular, apparently a little pointed above. Whole height, 10½ inches; width, 8 inches; color, gray.

63029. A small, large-necked vase, with globular body, and lip a little recurved. The body is ornamented with a number of indentations, probably made with the finger nail. Color, dark gray.

63008. A large, thick-bodied vase, modeled to represent a hunchbacked human figure. The head is missing. It is 9 inches in width, and has been about 12 inches in height. Ware of the ordinary dark variety.

62995. Fragments of steatite vessels which have been from 1 to 2 feet in diameter. The walls about the rims were quite thin.

62959. A large clay pipe, found in the soil near the banks of the Mississippi.




63204. A large lot of arrow-points of yellow and gray jasper.

stone implement
Fig. 142.

62966, 62976, 62979-62998, 63000-63006. Celts or knives made of jasper and yellowish jaspery slate, which range from 2 to 5 inches in length, and are less than 1 inch in width and half an inch in thickness. They have been chipped into the desired shape, and finished by grinding off the more prominent parts and producing in many eases sharp cutting edges. A good example is shown in Fig. 142.

62965. A flat pebble, with rudely-made notches at the side.

62967, 62968, 62974. Fragments of celts.

62970. Yellowish jasper pebble, resembling a celt.

62000. Fragment of a long, chipped, knife-like implement, the extremities of which are lost.

62975. Fragment of a steatite vessel.

62969, 62971. Sandstone pebbles.

62960. Hammer-stone, with conical points, made from a pebble of cherty sandstone.


62962. Slightly grooved fragment of rubbing-stone.

62964. Flat pebble, slightly hollowed by use; a sort of shallow mortar.

62961. Fragment of a stone similar to the preceding.

62972. Fragment of concretionary iron ore, concave on one side.

62973. Red paint.


A large number of very fine 


 of clay was presented by Dr. J. M. Lindsley. They were obtained from a field near Pecan Point, within half a mile of the Mississippi River. In the fields is a large mound which could not be opened on account of the crops. Years ago, when the timber was cleared from this field, many small elevations or hillocks were observed scattered irregularly over the surface. The plow has obliterated these, but has brought to light many evidences of ancient 472occupation, such as charcoal, ashes, burned clay, stone implements, and human bones.

63207. A large, beautifully-formed jar has received this number. The neck is short and slender, and the rim slightly enlarged and recurved. The body is full and symmetrical, but greatly compressed vertically, the width being about twice the height. The ware is of the dark, porous variety. Full height, 8 inches; width, 10 inches.

63010. A bottle-shaped jar or vase, with long neck and globular body. The form is unusually graceful. Height is 10 inches. Diameter of body, 6½ inches. This vessel is shown inFig. 143.

63012. A well-formed jar, with plain neck and globular body. Seven and one-half inches in height, and 8½ in width.

63013. A medium sized, bottle-shaped vessel, of elegant proportions. A rudimentary foot or stand is added to the bottom. Height, 8 inches. Fig. 144.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 144.
earthen vessel
Fig. 143.Fig. 146.

63017. A small, much compressed, bottle-shaped vase. Height, 5 inches; width, 6½ inches.

63018. A bottle-shaped vase of reddish-gray color, resembling the preceding in shape and size.

earthen vessel
Fig. 145.

63019. A large, bottle-shaped vase, with long neck and subglobular body. It is unique in having a stand or base which seems to have been added after the body was somewhat hardened. This stand has been perforated for ornament, as shown inFig. 145. Height, 8 inches; diameter, 6 inches.


63011. A small vase, ornamented with a series of ribs, which extend around the body from the neck to the base. This vessel is shown in Fig. 146. It is in a fragmentary state. Height, 4¼ inches; width, 7 inches.


63016. A medium-sized vase with vertically compressed body. Height, 6 inches; diameter, 8½ inches. Fig. 147.

63015. A plain bowl, with flattish bottom. Diameter, 9 inches; height 5 inches.

63014. A well-made jar or vase, with globular body, 6 inches in width and 4½ in height. The surface of the vessel is completely covered with an irregular, bead-like ornamentation, made by pinching the soft clay between the thumb and fingers.Fig. 148. Diameter 5½ inches.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 147.Fig. 148.

63020. A much compressed vase, 4½ inches in height and 7½ in width. Four equi-distant protuberances are placed about the widest part of the body and rudely imitate the extremities of some animal.


63021. A small, jar-like vase, with globular body, 6 inches in height, and the same in diameter. The form is not quite symmetrical.

63022. A small vase, with large, high neck and much compressed body. Height, 5½ inches; width, 6½ inches.

63023. A vase similar to the preceding.

63024. A medium-sized bowl, 7½ inches in diameter and 3 inches in height. The rim has an exterior ornament of thumb indentations.

earthen vessel
Fig. 149.

63025. A small, rudely-constructed jar, 4 inches in height and 4½ in width.

63026. A jar having a high, wide neck, and small, globular body. The bottom is flat. Height, 5 inches; width, 4½ inches.

63027. A small, rudely-constructed cup, of a reddish color. Height, 1 inch; width, 1½ inches.

63045. A small, rudely-finished vase, with high, wide neck and short pedestal. The globular body is embellished with an encircling band of scroll-work of incised lines. The scrolls are bordered by triangular wings filled with reticulated lines, as shown inFig. 149; height, 4¾ inches. Nos. 63113, 63026, and 63099 are plain vessels of similar form.

Additional numbers have been given to numerous fragments from this locality.




A group of well-known mounds is situated on the farm of the late Frank Menard, 8 miles south-east of the village of Arkansas Post.

The largest mound is 965 feet in circumference at the top and considerably larger at the base. The slopes are covered with trees and bushes.

This mound had already been dug into quite extensively, and it was thought useless to explore it further. Connected with this mound by a ridge of earth 300 feet long and 20 feet across, is a small circular mound, 15 feet high and 45 feet in diameter, which bore evidence of having been occupied by houses.


Near the middle of the connecting ridge, just under the soil, a layer of burnt clay, about 5 or 6 feet in diameter, was found. At one side, imbedded in the d├ębris of clay, a large quantity of fragments of earthen vessels was discovered. They comprise a number of bowls of various sizes, which are all quite new-looking, and are of a type of ware quite distinct from that found in the fields and graves of the same locality. Restorations of a large number have been made, and the collection proves to be extremely interesting.

The collector argues, from the position of the fragmentary vessels, that they had been placed by their owners upon the roof of the house, which, he surmises, was destroyed by fire.

63040, 63034, 63170, 63421, 65412, 65409, 65422, 65405. Plain bowls of yellowish-gray ware, restored from fragments described above. They are wide and shallow, and somewhat conical below; hand-made, and without polish. Composed of clay, tempered with pulverized shell. The walls are usually quite thin. Diameter 10 to 13 inches. Height 3 to 6 inches.

earthen vessel

Fig. 150.


63039, 63033, 63041-63043, 64045, 65406, 65401-65403, 65415,-65417, 65408, 65410. Bowls corresponding in general character to those described above, but having tasteful designs of incised lines and indentations on the exterior surface. The most interesting of these designs consists of series of interlaced or of festooned lines. The exterior margin is encircled, in all cases, by ornaments consisting of parallel lines, groups of short incised lines, or rows of indentations.

stone implement

Fig. 151.

The principal design encircles the body beneath this, as shown in Figs. 150 and 151.

63037, 63038, 63416. Bowls similar to the above having interior decorations consisting of curved lines.

63035, 63099, 65404, 65411, 65413, 65414, 65418-65420, 65423. Bowls corresponding to the above in general characters, but having flaring rims. They are mostly plain. A few have decorative designs of incised lines. Some have been blackened by use as cooking vessels.


Surrounding the Menard mound is a field containing about twenty acres, which appears at one time to have been the site of a great number of dwellings, as, at a depth of from 1 to 2 feet, layers of burned clay are found. This field seems also to have been a great cemetery, as the remains of skeletons are found in great numbers.

Pottery is found in great abundance. It has, as a rule, been deposited near the heads of the dead, but no ornaments or implements have been discovered with the remains. The frequent plowing of the field has destroyed many earthen vessels, the interments having been made quite near the surface. It is a noticeable fact that the pottery from these graves is of a character quite distinct from that of the mound. It is of the class of ware so common in this region.



63129, 63122, 63150. Arrow-points, spear-points, and knives of chalcedony, jasper, and quartz.

63132. Celt or chisel of Mack slate, 2½ inches long, and 1¼ wide at the wider end.

63133. Celt of gray diorite. The blade is quite smooth; the upper part is roughened. Length, 3 inches. Width, 1½ inches. Thickness, 1 inch.

63134. Celt of yellow limestone, 2½ inches long, and 1½ inches wide.

63135. A two-edged celt of gray quartzite, 2¼ inches long, and three-fourths of an inch wide.

63136. Celt of yellowish-gray jasper, chipped, and afterwards partially smoothed by grinding. Four and one-half inches long, and 1½ inches wide.

63137. Celt very similar to the preceding.

63138. Celt of dark-gray slate; edge nicely sharpened. Lower part smooth, upper part rough; 4½ inches long, 1½ inches wide, and nearly 1 inch thick.

earthen vessel
Fig. 152.

63123. Fragment of a large celt, with conical apex.

63124. A hammer-stone.

63131. A pebble of coarse sandstone, resembling a celt in shape.

63127. A quartz pebble, probably used as a polishing-stone.

63139. A boat-shaped implement of speckled volcanic rock, 3 inches long, 1 inch wide, and three-fourths of an inch thick at the middle part.


63140. An implement of grayish-red sandstone similar to the above in size and shape. The ends are slightly squared.

63126. A small disk of gray quartzite, having a shallow circular depression in each face.

63128. A pendant of gray slate, somewhat pear-shaped in outline, 1½ inches in diameter, and one-eighth of an inch thick. Near the pointed end, a neat, biconical perforation has been made.

63121. An implement or ceremonial stone of ferruginous slate, possibly a clay iron-stone, or limonite. It has a hatchet-like outline, the blade being semicircular, and the upper part elongated and narrow. A large biconical perforation has been made near the center of the implement; a smaller one, as if for suspension, at the upper end. It is 6¼ inches long, 5½ inches wide, and three-fourths of an inch thick. Fig. 152.


63113. A small reddish cup or vase. The rim is low and wide and is ornamented with four ears placed at regular intervals on the exterior surface. Two of these are pierced as if for the insertion of a string. Height, 3 inches. Width, 5 inches. Fig. 153.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 153.Fig. 154.

63111. A small bottle-shaped vase. The surface has been painted red. Height, 4 inches. Width, 3½ inches. Fig. 154.


63091. A small globular vase, with low neck of medium width, which has an ornament consisting of a band of clay, slightly raised and indented with oblique lines. Yellowish-gray ware with dark stains. Height, 6 inches.

63108. A low bottle-shaped vase, of yellowish ware, with flaring rim and somewhat flattened body. Height, 5 inches; width 5 inches. Fig. 155.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 155.Fig. 156.

63098. A well-made bottle shaped vase, with low neck and globular body, somewhat conical above. Color dark brownish. 7½ inches in height. Shown in Fig. 156.

63090. Fragments of vases corresponding in characters to the preceding. One example has been painted red.


63110. A small bottle-shaped vase of red ware. Height 6 inches, width 5½ inches.

63102. The body of a small bottle-shaped vase, much flattened, the outline being quite angular at the most expanded part. Yellowish-gray in color and without polish. There are indications that a design in red has ornamented the body. Width 4 inches.

63092. The body of a small bottle-shaped vase, globular in form. Surface painted red and unusually well polished. Diameter 4½ inches.

63100. Neck and upper part of body of a vase resembling in form and color the example last described.

63120. A handsome bottle-shaped vase with flaring lip. The neck widens toward the base. The body is almost globular, being slightly pointed above, and expanded along the equatorial belt. The surface is only moderately smooth. The body is ornamented with a very handsome design of incised lines, which consists of a scroll pattern, divided into four sections by perpendicular lines. The design covers the upper part of the body, the lower part being plain. Height, 9½ inches. Fig. 157.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 157.Fig. 158.

63112. A bottle-shaped vessel of dark, rudely finished ware. The body is modeled to represent a fish, the mouth and eyes appearing on one side, and the tail upon the other. Width 3¼ inches. Fig. 158.


63114, 63117. Two small vessels with globular bodies, which have a curious resemblance to an ordinary tea-pot. A spout has, in each case, been added to the side of the body. Figs. 159 and 160 show these vessels on a scale of one-half.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 159.Fig. 160.

63115. An oblong, shallow basin. Wide, flat handles have been added to the rim at the ends of the vessel; one of these is pierced. Length 8¾ inches, width 4 inches, depth 2 inches. Color dark gray. Fig. 161.

earthen vessel

Fig. 161.


63103, 63101, 63169, 63176, 63116, 63199, 63098. Plain bowls of ordinary composition and appearance. Fig. 162 is a good example. Diameter 9 inches.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 162.Fig. 163.

63096. A handsome bowl of dark ware. The body is ornamented with an incised design, which consists of a somewhat disconnected running scroll. The bottom, is flat. Diameter 8¼ inches. Fig. 163.

63109. A bowl of dark porous ware, very nicely made. The rim is ornamented at one side with a grotesque head, representing some wild animal, probably a panther. The ornament on the opposite side takes the place of the tail of the animal. Diameter of bowl 8 inches. Fig. 164.

earthen vessel

Fig. 164.

63028, 63046. Fragments of many vessels, chiefly of black porous ware, among which are a number of handles representing the heads of birds and quadrupeds, also the fragments of a vessel which restored give the vase shown in Fig. 165. The designs are red on a yellowish ground. Diameter 5½ inches.

earthen vessel

Fig. 165.


63107. A large vase modeled to represent a grotesque human figure. It is painted with designs in red and white, the ground color being a reddish yellow. The figure has a kneeling posture. The hands are upraised against the shoulders, with palms turned forward. Height, 10½ inches; width of shoulders, 8 inches. Fig. 166.

earthen vessel

Fig. 166.


63090, 63054, 63095. Fragments of pottery having incised designs, similar to the dark ware already described. A few of these fragments have been worked into rude disks.


62048. A thin plate of copper, probably intended for a pendent ornament, as two perforations have been made at one end. It is rectangular in outline, and has suffered much from corrosion.

63113. A fragment of galena ore.


63142. Fragment of a needle-like perforator. A conical perforation has been made toward the larger end. The point has been lost.

63047. A cubical fragment of bone, the sides of which have been squared by cutting or grinding.




On the farm of Daniel Thompson, near Lawrenceville, the remains of ancient habitations are of frequent occurrence.

The fields have been cultivated for many years. In one case a bed of clay 8 inches thick, and covering an area of many hundred feet, was discovered near the surface; this is supposed to be the remains of the roof of a house. Associated with it were a number of objects, among which were five very interesting specimens of pottery.


63151. A large bottle-shaped vase of red and white ware. The upper part of the neck is lost. The body is encircled by an ornamental design in white, upon a red ground, which resembles a rudely drawn Greek fret. The diameter of the body is 9 inches; the height has been 11 or 12 inches.

63152. A fine bottle-shaped vase, resembling the preceding; very handsome, and in a remarkably good state of preservation. It also has a design in red and white. The original color of the 487vase has been a dull reddish yellow. The neck is red, the body is ornamented with four red and four white figures, which extend from the neck to the base of the vessel. These belts of color are separated by bands of the ground-color of the vessel. Height 12 inches. Fig. 167.

63153. A small rude cup of gray clay, without decoration. Diameter 4 inches.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 167.Fig. 168.

63154. An egg-shaped vessel, made in imitation of a gourd. The mouth of this vessel is a small round opening on the side, near the pointed end. The base is somewhat flattened. Height 5 inches. Fig. 168.

63155. A minute cup, 1½ inches in diameter. The rim is encircled by a series of rude notches.


A large mound 30 feet high and 250 feet long is located on the farm of Mr. A. Spencer, near Indian Bay. Our collector, however, could not obtain permission to examine it. At the edge of Indian Bay corporation is another large mound, used as a cemetery by the white residents. In a field near by were two small mounds about 3 feet in height and 30 feet in circumference. In one of these, two feet beneath the surface, a skeleton was found, near the head of which three earthen vessels had been placed. From the other small mound a very interesting collection of pottery was procured, much of which was in a fragmentary condition. 488From these fragments a number of vessels have been reconstructed. These are given in the following list:


63046. A bottle-shaped vase of dart, grayish-brown ware. The neck is quite high and slender, and the body globular—a little elongated above. The rim and collar are ornamented with incised notches. Height, 10 inches.

63171. A large symmetrically shaped vase or jug of a grayish yellow color. Restored from fragments. The body of the jug is globular, the neck slightly flaring, the rim being notched on the outer edge. The ware is coarse and rough. Height, 10½ inches.

63156, 63163, 63164, 63173, 63174. Fragments of vessels similar to that last described.

63191. A low wide-mouthed vase of dark gray compact ware. The neck is decorated by two series of lines, which cross and recross the neck in such a manner as to form diamond-shaped figures. They are deeply incised. The rim is notched, and has three small nodes on the outer margin. The body is covered with an ornament produced by pinching the clay while in a soft state. Height, 6½ inches; diameter, 9 inches.

63159. A very large wide-mouthed vase, the body of which is conical below. The rim and neck are ornamented in a manner very similar to the one last described. Height, 16 inches; diameter, 19 inches. Fig. 169.

earthen vessel

Fig. 169.


63028, 63029, 63030, 63164, 63166, 63167. Fragments of vessels similar to the one last described.

63192, 63195, 63196. Three small vessels restored from fragments; two of these resemble deep bowls with flaring rims. The lip is notched on the outer margin. The other has an upright, slightly constricted neck, ornamented with a band of rude indentations. Diameter, 6¾ inches. Fig. 170.

earthen vesselearthen vessel
Fig. 170.Fig. 171.

63161. A shallow bowl of yellowish gray ware, ornamented with irregular notches about the rim. Diameter, 9 inches.

63197, 63162, 63185. Bowls similar to the preceding.

63194, 63160, 63168. Large bowls with flaring rims.

63176. A very deep bowl. Fragmentary.

63189. A large, handled cup or ladle of yellowish clay. The bowl part is 6 inches in diameter. The extremity of the handle has been lost. Fig. 171.

63157, 63,158. Large portions of the bodies of two vessels of unusual shape.