University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States
(1880)

Butterfield, C. W.
History of Wisconsin: 1.-Wisconsin antiquities,   pp. [19]-21 PDF (1.3 MB)


Page [19]


     HISTORY OF WISCONSINIo
                      BY C. W. BUTTERFIELD.
                            I.-WISCONSIN ANTIQUITIES.
     The first explorers of the valleys of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi
and its tributaries,
 seem not to have noticed, to any considerable extent, the existence within
these vast areas of
 monuments of an extinct race. Gradually, however, as the tide of emigration
broke through the
 barriers of the Alleghanies and spread in a widely extended flow over what
are now the States of
 the Northwest, these prehistoric vestiges attracted more and more theattention
of the curious
 and the learned, until, at the present time, almost every person is presumed
to have some general,
 knowledge, not only of their existence, but of some of their striking peculiarities.
Unfortunately,
 these signs of a long since departed people are fast disappearing by the
never ceasing operations
 of the elements, and the constant encroachments of civilization. The earliest
notices of the
 animal and vegetable kingdom of this region are to be found in its rocks;
but Wisconsin's earli-
 est records of men can only be traced in here and there a crumbling earth-work,
in the fragment
 of a skeleton, or in a few stone and copper implements-dim and shadowy relics
of their
 handicraft.
     The ancient dwellers in these valleys, whose history is lost in the
lapse of ages, are desig-,
nated, usually, as the Mound-Builders; not that building mounds was probably
their distinctive
employment, but that such artificial elevations of the earth are, to a great
extent, the only evi-
dences remaining of their actual occupation of the country. As to the origin
of these people,
all knowledge must, possibly, continue to rest upon conjecture alone. Nor
were the habitations
of this race confined to the territory of which Wisconsin now forms a part.
At one time, they
must have been located in many ulterior regions. The earth-works, tumuli,
or "mounds," as they
are generally designated, are usually symmetrically raised and often inclosed
in mathematical
figures, such as the square, the octagon, and the circle, with long lines
of circumvallation.
Besides these earth-works, there are pits dug in the solid rock; rubbish
heaps formed in the
prosecution of mining operations; and a variety of implements and utensils,
wrought in copper
or stone, or moulded in clay. Whence came the inhabitants who left these
evidences to succeed-
ing generations ? In other words, who were the Mound-Buidlders ?  Did they
migrate from the
Old World, or is their origin to be sought for elsewhere ? And as to their
manners and customs
and civilization-what of these things? Was the race finally swept from the-New
World to give
place to Red men, or was it the one from which the latter descended ? These
momentous ques-
tions are left for the ethnologist, the archaeologist, and the antiquarian
of the future to answer-
if they can.


Go up to Top of Page