Antiquities of Wisconsin I. A. Lapham
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ALTHOUGH the existence of aboriginal earthworks in the Western country has been known for almost a century, no mounds of imitative design intended to represent animal figures were observed, until a very recent period, when the territory now constituting the State of Wisconsin began to attract the attention of emigrants. This was in the year 1836, and I then made known through the newspapers of the day the fact of the existence of the “turtle-mound” at Prairie Village, now Waukesha, and of other animal effigies at various places. Since that time every opportunity has been embraced to make examinations and surveys of these highly interesting relics of the past, which have been thus not unfrequently saved from oblivion. In some instances, they were destroyed immediately or within a few days after my survey.

The American Antiquarian Society having placed at my disposal the means of paying the actual travelling and other expenses, these investigations were greatly extended; and the results are now presented, in the hope that they may have their use in the settlement of many archaeological and ethnological questions of great interest and importance.

But little effort has been made to construct hypotheses in explanation of the facts observed, or by an extended comparison with the results recorded by others, to arrive at general conclusions. The want of extensive collections of books and other facilities at the West may long prevent our inquirers, here, from entering upon such speculations.

My office has been faithfully to fulfil the duties of the surveyor: to examine and investigate the facts, and to report them as much in detail as may be necessary; leaving it to others with better opportunities, to compare them, and to establish, in connection with other means of information, such general principles as may be legitimately deduced.


Milwaukee, Wis.

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