History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
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There are singular remains of antiquity throughout America, universally conceded to be the work of a prehistoric race, commonly called the Mound Builders. That these works owe their origin to a people more intimately acquainted with the arts of life than the aboriginal tribes which inhabited this continent upon its discovery, is abundantly proved by these records which are found scattered throughout the entire length and breadth of our land. The attention of archaeologists is being more and more directed to a study of these peculiar evidences of a vanished half civilization, but as yet neither their origin nor the date of their inhabitance has been determined. Such traces as are left, though abundant in quantity, are vague as to character, no written memoranda having come to light, nor hieroglyph whose key can unlock the mystery. The remains consist chiefly of mounds of earth, which, notwithstanding the leveling and wearing action of the elements, have kept the form into which those mythical hands molded them. Hence the name of Mound Builders. In these mounds are found the traces of such useful arts as place beyond peradventure the users of them higher in the scale of progression than the savages who succeeded them. These mounds and enclosures are various in form, and it is supposed that they were dedicated to uses as various. Some are believed to have been fortifications; others, places of sepulcher and of sacrifice, while some were the sites of temples, and others observatories. The ground selected for their erection seems generally to have been an elevated plateau on the banks of either lake or river, and the builders were apparently influenced by the same considerations as govern men in modem times in the choice of places for settlement. It is a fact that many of our most opulent cities are built upon the sites of these ancient works, proving that those by-gone races availed themselves of the same natural advantages as we do of today. These earth works are by no means of uniform shape or size. Some are regularly arranged, forming squares, circles and octagons; others are like walls or fortifications, while others (and these are more numerous in Wisconsin than elsewhere, and first noticed in this state) are in imitation of the shapes of animals, birds, beasts and fishes — and in the forms of trees, war clubs, tobacco pipes, and other significant implements of race. It is not an improbable supposition that these curious figures were intended to represent a badge of tribe — a sort of gigantic armorial device on a scale commensurate with the vastness of the territory inhabited. In all existing nations symbols are employed as an expression of national individuality, and are deeply cherished by the people. England has her lion, France her eagles and her fleur-de-lis, Scotland her thistle, and amongst our present North American tribes we have such titles as Sitting Bull, Driving Qoud and Black Hawk. So these mounds may have been shaped to represent tribal or family insignia, and were possibly dedicated to the burial of members of the special clans who reared them. These animal shaped mounds, equally with the round tumuli, contain human bones. These bones are in a very brittle and decomposed state, having roots and fibers growing through them, and are distributed equally through all parts of the mounds. In the construction of these monuments it is evident that the bodies were laid upon the surface of the ground and the earth heaped upon them. No appearances are to be found of graves having been dug below the surface. In many cases later burials have been made upon these mounds, where possibly some nomadic tribe made a grave for its dead above the long buried and almost forgotten race. This surface burial, in which earth was brought and heaped above the dead, was not the custom among the North American Indians, their mode being a shallow grave, or suspension on platforms, or in trees, and this is counted another proof of the non-identity of the Mound Builders with the people that followed them.