Friday, September 30, 2011

American Indian Mound Builders in Whitley County, Indiana

Historic Indiana map showing the location of burial mounds and earthworks in Whitley County,IndianaMap showing the location of the earthen fort and burial mounds in the county

Counties of Whitley and Noble Indiana,1882
      Several mounds have been discovered in Whitley County, and novices have opened a few of them, and as a consequence the more important features have been lost or overloaded. It may be stated in general that, in this locality, the earthworks are of three kinds-sepulchral, where the dead lie buried, sacrificial, where offerings were burned to gain the favor of the deity; and memorial mounds, which were erected to commemorate some great event. A number of years ago, a sepulchral mound was opened about three miles east of Columbia City and a quantity of crumbling homes and a few stone implements were taken. This was a sepulchral mound, and, if a cross section had been examined, the alternate layers of clay, sand and small cemented pebbles would have been seen. This kind of mound was wisely made. There first the stratum of fine gravel, almost as good as cement, placed directly over the skeletons; next was a hard pan of clay that was almost impervious to water as the cement; then came a stratum of sand that would carry all percolating water down the sides of the mounds and away from the skeletons. It is maintained on good authority that corpses, placed under these conditions, with additional stratum of earth above the sand, will be preserved for centuries. The burden of authority places the erection of the mounds throughout. The country at a period preceding the Christian era a co-existent with the old Assyrian, Egyptian and Babylonian nations.

     Several mounds have been opened in the county, in which charcoal has been found. If carefully examined, these mounds will present the following characteristics always present in sacrificial mounds. A small earthen alter, sometimes two or more yards square, in the center and at the bottom of the mound, upon which is often found a bushel or more of charcoal and ashes, often mingled with half consumed bones of animal that were burned to propitiate the deity. Over the altar are found the strata of earth already mentioned. . . .The writer learns from various sources that there are mounds in the following townships: Etna, Jefferson, on its eastern line, Troy, Thorn Creek, Smith, Union, and possibly in Columbia and Cleveland. Openings have been made in most of them, and bones, charcoal, ornaments and implements have been discovered.

The Foritification

From the following map, a fortification of earth once existed in the northeastern one quarter of section 11, Union Township. It has been attributed to Little Turtle however, never has it been known for Miami Indians to build fortifications it more likely from the mound builders culture. It has never been known as a village site and was only the site of a trading post in the 18th century. It seems more plausible that their fortification is in the series of semi-circular forts that runs east to Toledo on the St. Joseph and Maumee River.

85 burial mounds and earthworks photographed and directions provided in to the exciting Early Native American places in Indiana. 222 burial  mounds and earthwork sites in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan.  America's best travel guide to the Early Native American burial mounds and earthworks in the Ohio Valley

Fort Wayne, News Sentinel, July 1931

Traces of Fort Remain

      Another spot of interest is the place on the old Alexander Moore farm in Union Township where Little Turtle built a home and fort of great savage luxury and proportions. The home was on a bluff at the edge of the Eel River and was surrounded on all sides by fortifications thrown up by him and by his men. Some of the traces of this fort are still visible and disclose much interest to lovers of Indian lore. The chief moved to this place after he was forced to leave Turtle Village because of the desertion of his followers.
Aerial photo reveals the outlines of the horseshoe shaped earthwork, identical to the earthworks found in Allen County Indiana and those along the Maumee River near Toledo.  It was constructed by the mound builders culture who inhabited Whitley county for over 2000 years around 800 A.D.

“Some Phases of Whitley County History”, by Edna Bernice Carver, 1937

      The land owned by John W. More later passed into the hands of Alexander More, an uncle of Charles More, Alexander More was known as “keeper of the trails”. His nephew says of him, “Uncle Alexander was born in Ohio in 1830 and was brought by grandfather here in 1831, while the Indians were still thick here. From them, the little pioneer had learned to know every trail and village at the Indians. The location of Little Turtle’s war fort and the shallow trench built by LaBalme and where he and his ill fated followers were massacred by Little Turtle’s warriors February 1, 1781.
Labalme and his 100 men were not massacred at this site.  The true location is in Aboite Township in Allen County, Indiana.

Whitley County, Indiana Historical Papers collected by Augustin de LaBalime, Chapter Daughters of American Revolution, Whitley County, Indiana. Originally prepared as a W.D.A. project, late 1830’s.

More’s Farm, Eel River (Eel River Post and Fort)

     In 1762, a trading place was established at this point where the traders met the Indians. This place on the trails was in fact the head of canoe navigation, and the real point on the Eel River where the portage began or the place of over land travel between Eel River and Fort Wayne. He grew rapidly in importance, and in 1779 and the early part of 1780, the embankment was built by the Miami Indians for a protection against other tribes as well as from the white invaders.
This is trail shrine located near the earthwork on some high ground called thirteen curves that is an old Indian trail.  It is not known if this is a relic of the Miami Indians or dates to the earlier moundbuilder culture.
      According to a statement by Mrs. Anthony Revarre (kil-so-quah), granddaughter of Little Turtle, to the writer, August 3, 1906; “The fortification at More’s farm, in Union Township, was a fort built under the direction of her grandfather, Little Turtle, by the Miami Indians for the protection against hostile tribes as well as white invaders. It was positively built by the Indians she knew, that this was her grandfather’s last residence.” (Lo. Hist., 1907 Keler, pg 82)