Antiquities of Wisconsin I. A. Lapham
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Chapter 7


WE have already stated, in their proper connection, the results of the examinations of the mounds at various places; but some general facts remain to be mentioned.

It is important to determine with certainty whether the relics found buried are the work of the original mound-builders, and placed there at the time of the erection of the mounds, or have been deposited subsequently. This can usually be done with a reasonable degree of certainty by one accustomed to such investigations.

So far as I have had opportunity to observe, there are no original remains in the mounds of imitative form, beyond a few scattered fragments that may have gained a place there by accident. Many of the mounds have been entirely removed, including the earth beneath for a considerable depth, in the process of grading streets in Milwaukee; and it is usually found that the natural surface had not been disturbed at the time of the erection, but that the several layers or strata of mould, clay, gravel, &c., are continuous below the structure as on the contiguous grounds.

Great numbers of the smaller conical tumuli are also destitute of any remains; and if human bodies were ever buried under them, they are now so entirely “returned to dust” that no apparent traces of them are left. If we assume that each mound was a place of burial, we must infer from the absence of utensils that the common practice of depositing with the dead the implements to be used in the other world, is of comparatively recent origin; since some of these, at least, would have resisted decay. The middle-sized conical mounds, and those of larger dimen- [page 81:] sion, almost always contain evidence of the deposit of one or more human bodies. These are always very much decayed; only one skull having been found sufficiently entire to enable Dr. Hoy, with much skill and labor, to restore it sufficiently to make out its general characteristics. A fortunate combination of circumstances had caused this preservation. The skull and some other bones were enveloped in a peculiar kind of clay, which seems to have possessed a preservative quality beyond that of ordinary earth, of which most of the accumulation was composed; and on the very top of the mound was a large tree, which had shed off the rains for several centuries. Many peculiarities of this cranium are pointed out by Dr. Hoy. (Chapter I, page 9.)
One-quarter size.One-quarter size.

On Plate LIII, there is a drawing of the natural size; and figures 37 and 38 represent the top and back views of the same skull reduced to one quarter of the natural size.

The following are its dimensions:
Longitudinal diameter  6.8
Parietal diameter  5.3
Occipito-frontal arch13.8
Length of head and face  8.2
Zygomatic diameter  4.9
Facial angle76

To give the reader more particular information respecting the supposed characteristics of this interesting relic of an extinct people, I have, with the assistance of a phrenological friend, prepared the following “chart.” For the localities of the “organs,” &c., reference was had to Spurzheim,1 whose works have become a portion of the literature of the country, and are to be found in all important libraries, Although the principles of this professed science may not be true in all their details, yet its nomenclature affords the means of presenting the conformation of the skull in a definite manner. The figure following the name of each organ indicates its relative development; 0 signifying deficiency, and 6 very full or unusual prominence.
1 Phrenology, Boston, 1833.
Destructiveness4 1/2
Combativeness4 1/2
Acquisitiveness4 1/2
Constructiveness2 1/2
Cautiousness (very full)6
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Conscientiousness4 1/2
Hope4 1/2
Mirthfulness3 1/2
Imitation2 1/2
Individuality (large)6
Weight and resistance3 1/2
Order2 1/2
Eventuality5 1/2
Time2 1/2
Tune2 1/2
Language (uncertain)5?
Comparison4 1/2

This chart shows that the affective, or feeling faculties, prevail over the intellectual, in the proportion of 4.3 to 3.9; and the several groups of organs are developed in the following order:

Whether these figures can be relied upon as indicating the character and disposition of the individual to whom the skull belonged, may be doubted; though it will be perceived that their indications correspond with the general character of the aborigines, in the large cautiousness, individuality, &c., and the deficient constructiveness, calculation, &c.

But few implements, ornaments, or works of art of any kind, have been discovered in the mounds of Wisconsin, that could not be traced to recent Indian burials; and yet it is certain that had they been originally deposited, they would still be found there. The stone axes, flint arrow-heads, and articles of pottery, are of a durable character, and could not have decayed since the erection of the mounds. Hence, we conclude that the more ancient mound-builders of Wisconsin were not in the habit of making such deposits.

The tumulus opened by me at Waukesha (See Chapter II, page 28) contained a stone pipe, another of burned clay, and fragments of two vases. These were of the same general kind and composition as the pipes and pottery of the Indians so frequently turned up by the plough. [page 83:]

Fig. 39 represents the pipe found in or near the left hand of the skeleton. It consists of pottery made of the same materials as the ordinary vases or pots.
Two thirds natural size.Natural size.

Fig. 40 was taken from the right hand of the same skeleton, and is made from a kind of soft argillite of a purplish color. This pipe differs from all others that I have seen, by having the horizontal opening on both sides.

Fig. 41 is made of steatite, green variegated with white.
One half natural size.One half natural size.

Fig. 42 is a large calumet, or pipe of peace, made of a fine-grained gray sandstone. Having been broken, it was mended with plates of lead. The small round punctures are supposed to represent the number of treaties which had been solemnized by this emblem. The drawing reduces the size one half.

Fig. 43 is of the same material as the last, but of finer texture.
Two thirds natural size.One half natural size.

Fig. 44 was found on the surface of the ground, on Lake Koshokenong. It has been burned and broken into fragments. It was apparently made of a like soft argillaceous sandstone. [page 84:]

Fig. 45 is a fragment of a pipe made of a reddish argillaceous stone.

Fig. 46 is of gray fine-grained sandstone, so soft that it was apparently cut and reduced to the proper form with a knife.
Natural size.Natural size.Natural size.

Fig. 47 is of the same material, in which was found a small nodule of iron pyrites; and the artist has taken advantage of this to ornament his work, and to leave a corresponding protuberance on the opposite side for symmetry. It was presented to me by Miss Amelia E. Higgins.

Fig. 48 is made of the beautiful red pipe-stone from the “Coteau des Prairies,” and is probably also a calumet, or pipe of state.

Fig. 49 was made and used by the Menomonee Indians of the Neenah river, from a whitish stone, now injured by accidental fire.
One half natural size.One half
natural size.

The pipe, Figs. 50 and 51, is of a dark-colored stone or clay slate, with traces of organic remains surrounded by iron pyrites. The end may be supposed to repre- [page 85:] sent the head of a snake, or perhaps the bill of a duck. It belongs to Dr. P. R. Hoy, of Racine.
Two thirds natural size.Two thirds natural size.

Fig. 39 is of artificial pottery. Figs. 40 and 50 are of argillite or clay slate rock. Fig. 41 is of steatite. Figs. 42, 43, 44, 46, and 47, are of gray sandstone, of a fine grain, and with argillaceous admixture. Fig. 45 is of reddish sandstone. Fig. 48 is of the red pipe-stone. Fig. 49 is of a whitish, or chalk-like stone.

In no one article was so much ingenuity displayed by aboriginal natives as in pipe making. Many of the pipes are formed with much taste, and are designed to be representations of animals with which they were familiar.

Arrow-points and spear-heads have occasionally been found in the mounds; but they mostly occur on, or not far beneath, the surface of the ground. They generally consist of schist or hornstone, usually denominated flint.

Fig. 52One
half natural size. represents an interesting form of arrow-point, narrower than usual, lozenge-shaped, and enlarged at the posterior extremity.

Remains of broken pottery are found in the mounds, and also in great abundance wherever there has been an Indian settlement. The pots were formed by hand, of clay and sand, or fine gravel, occasionally mixed with broken shells and other substances, and then slightly burned. The potter’s wheel, that most ancient of all machines, was evidently not in use among the aboriginal inhabitants of America.

The pots, or vases, found in the mounds at Waukesha and Racine, were in connection with the original deposit, and must, therefore, have been the work of the mound-builders. They agree in every respect with the fragments found about the old Indian villages; and probably with the same articles as now manufactured by the females of tribes residing on the Missouri.1
1 Mr. Catlin informs us that “earthen dishes are made by the Mandan women in great quantities, and modelled in a thousand forms and tastes. They are made from a tough black clay, and baked in kilns which are made for the purpose, and are nearly equal in hardness to our own manufactured pottery, though they have not yet got the art of glazing. They make them so strong and serviceable, however, that they hang them over the fire as we do our iron kettles, and boil their meat in them with perfect success. Here women can be seen handling them by hundreds, moulding them in fanciful forms, and passing them through the kilns.”—Catlin’s North American Indians, I, 116; quoted in Squier’s Antiquities of New York, page 132.

The vessels were variously ornamented by lines and dots stamped upon them, when in a soft state, by hand. Occasionally the whole surface is so marked, but usually the rim only is ornamented.

The vases obtained at Waukesha, and also at Aztalan, must have been broken before they were deposited in the mounds; for only portions of different vases could be found.

Fig. 53 represents the vase found in mound at Racine, and restored by Dr. P. R. Hoy, described in Chapter I.1
1 That the state of the potter’s art among the southern nations was not much more advanced than in Wisconsin, appears from the following extract: “The ancient pottery of Nicaragua is always well burned, and often elaborately painted in brilliant and durable colors. The forms are generally very regular, but there is no evidence of the use of the potter’s wheel; on the contrary, there is reason to believe that the ancient processes have undergone little or no modification since the Conquest. The pottery now generally in use among all classes in Central America, is of the Indian manufacture, and is fashioned entirely by hand.”—Squier’s Nicaragua, 1852, II, 337-8.
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Fig. 54 represents a stone axe. These axes are worked to a sharp edge at one end, and have a depression around the head for the handle. Although they all have the same general form, there are no two exactly alike. The one figured must have been used in the manner of a carpenter’s adze. These are made of the hardest stone, selected from boulders very nearly of the right shape, so as to equire the least labor. Some of them retain portion of the natural polish of the boulder on the head and edges.
One third natural size.One quarter natural size.One half
natural size.One half natural size.

Figs. 55 and 56 represent a chisel-shaped instrument, which may have been employed in taking off the skins of huge quadrupeds.

These stone chisels were perhaps made use of instead of the bone, in dressing skins of the bison as is now practised by the wild Indians of the West. The last process, termed graining, is performed by the squaws, who use a sharpened bone, the shoulder-blade or other large bone of the animal, sharpened at the edge, somewhat like an adze; with the edges of which they scrape the fleshy side of the skin, bearing on with the weight of their bodies, thereby drying and softening, and fitting it for service. (Catlin’s North American Indians, I, 45.)

An image made of wood (Fig. 57) was discovered at Prairie village (Waukesha), soon after its first settlement by the whites, and presented yo me by Mr. C. F. Warren. It is evident that it could have no very great antiquity; though it may have been preserved and handed down for several generations. It is quite rudely carved, the head very much flattened, and the general expression more that of a monkey than of a man. [page 87:]

Such images were formerly common with the Indians, and are still to be found among the remote tribes, which retain many of their ancient customs. “Most of the Crees carry with them one or more small wooden figures rudely carved, some of which they state to be representations of a malicious or at least a capricious being named Kepuchikan (or Gepuchikan), to whom they make offerings.” (J. Richardson’s Arctic Searching Expedition, 1852, page 268.)
Two thirds natural size.

Fig. 58 represents a circular stone composed of variegated quartz, of a light gray color, perforated; doubtless intended to be used in the Indian game of tchung-kee, as described by Catlin. 1

1 The Mandans have a game “which may be said to be their favorite amusement, and unknown to the other tribes about them. The game is tchung-kee (see Fig. 59), a beautiful athletic exercise which they seem to be almost unceasingly practising whilst the weather is fair, and they have nothing else of moment to demand their attention. This game is decidedly their favorite amusement, and is played near to the village on a pavement of clay which has been used for that purpose until it has become as smooth and hard as a floor. For this game two champions form their respective parties, by choosing alternately the most famous players, until their requisite numbers are made up. Their bettings are then made, and their stakes are held by some of the chiefs, or others present. The play commences with two (one from each party), who start off upon a trot abreast of each other, and one of them rolls, in advance of them on the pavement, a little ring of two or three inches in diameter, cut out of a stone; and each one follows it up with his tchung-kee (a stick six feet in length, with little bits of leather projecting from its sides, of an inch or more in length), which he throws before him as he runs, sliding it along upon the ground after the ring, endeavoring to place it in such a position when it stops, that the ring may fall upon it, and receive one of the little projections of leather through it, which counts for game one, or two, or four, according to the position of the leather on which the ring is lodged. The last winner always has the rolling of the ring, and both start the tchung-kee together; if either fails to receive the ring, or to lie in a certain position, it is a forfeiture of the amount of the number he was nearest to, and he loses his throw; when another steps into his place. The game is a difficult one to describe so as to give an exact idea of it, unless one can see it played; it is a game of great beauty and fine bodily exercise, and these people become excessively fond of it.”—Catlin’s North American Indians, I,132.

A similar game was practised by the Senecas; as described by Lewis H. Morgan, in the Third Annual Report of the Regents of the University of New York, 1850, p. 79. [And likewise by the Upper Creeks. See Smithsonian Contributions, II, 135-140; Trans. Amer. Ethnol. Soc., III, 51-57.— Secretary S. I.]

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This stone was found at Milwaukee, where it had doubtless been lost at some remote time. Its form is precisely such as to enable it to roll the greatest distance without falling.

Similar stones are found in Ohio, and are described by Messrs. Squier and Davis,1 which were without doubt used for a like purpose.
1 Smithsonian Contributions, I, 222.

Fig. 60 represents a chisel or implement of native copper, found at Stephen’s One half natural size. Point on the upper Wisconsin river, in 1850, and deposited in the cabinet of the University of Wisconsin by Mr. James W. Wright. It appears to have originally had a sort of finish on the upper or convex side, and on the edges; but in many places it is decayed and gone. There are also indications of grinding or rubbing, on the surface. The under, or flat side, is full of irregular cavities, and was probably never smoothed. It is supposed to have been brought to its present shape by hammering, probably with a stone hammer.

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Lapham, Increase Allen, 1811-1875.   The antiquities of Wisconsin.   Washington : Smithsonian Institution, 1855.   p. 80-88.
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