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
Butterfield, C. W.
History of Wisconsin: 1.-Wisconsin antiquities, pp. -21 PDF (1.3 MB)
IIISTORY OF WISCONSIN. Inclosures and mounds of the prehistoric people, it is generally believed, constituted but parts of one system; the former being, in the main, intended for purposes of defense or religion; the latter, for sacrifice, for temple sites, for burial places, or for observatories. In selecting sites for many of these earth-works, the Mound-Builders appear to have been influenced by motives which prompt civilized men to choose localities for their great marts; hence, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities of the West are founded on ruins of pre-existing structures. River terraces and river bottoms seemi to have been the favorite places for these earth-works. In such localities, the natural advantages of the country could be made available with much less trouble than in portions of the country lying at a distance from water-courses. In Wisconsin, therefore, as in other parts, the same general idea, of selecting points contiguous to the principal natural thoroughfares is found to have prevailed with the Mound-Builders; for their works are seen in the basin of the Fox river of the Illinois, in that of Rock river and its branches, in the valley of Fox river of Green bay, in,, that of the Wisconsin, as well as near the waters of the Mississippi. While a few circumvallations and immense mounds, such as are common to certain other portions of the United States, are discoverable in Wisconsin, yet by far the largest number of earthworks have one peculiarity not observable, except in a few instances, outside the State. This characteristic is a very striking one The fact is revealed that they are imitative in form- resembling beasts, reptiles, birds, fish, man. All these, for convenience, are usually classed under the general name of "animal mounds," although some are in the similitude of trees, some of war clubs, others of tobacco pipes. Generally, these figures are.in groups, though sometimes they are seen alone. For what purpose these earth-works were heaped up-they rise above the surface tw o, four, and sometimes six feet-or what particular uses they were intended to subserve; is unknown. It is, however, safe to affirm that they had some significance. A number resemble the bear; a few, the buffalo; others, the raccoon. Lizards, turtles, and even tadpoles, are out- lined in the forms of some. The war eagle, and the war club has each its representative. All this, of course, could not have been a mere happening-the work of chance. The sizes of these mounds are as various as their forms. One near Cassville, in Grant county, very complete in its representation of an animal, supposed to be of the elephant species, was found, upon measure- ment, to have a total length of one hundred and thirty-five feet. Another in Sauk county, quite perfect in its resemblance to the form of a man, was of equal length-a veritable colossus; prone, it is true,. and soon to disappear, if it has not already been destroyed, by ravages of a superior civilization. In portions of Wisconsin, as well as in a few places outside the State, are found earth-works of another kind, but quite as remarkable as the " animal mounds," which, from their supposed use, have been styled "'garden beds." They are ridges, or beds, about six inches in height and four feet in xwidth, ranged, with much apparent method,' in parallel rows, sometimes rectangular in shape, sometimes of Various but regular and symmetrical curves, and occupying fields of from ten to a hundred acres. The Mound-Builders have left many relics, besides their earthworks, to attest their presence in Wisconsin in ages past. Scattered widely are found stone and copper axes, spear-heads, and arrow-heads, also various other implements-evidently their handiwork. As these articles are frequently discovered many feet beneath the surface, it argues a high antiquity for the artificers. Whether they had the skill to mould their copper imiplements is doubtful. Such as plainly show the work of hammering, indicate an art beyond that possessed by the Red men who peopled America upon its first discovery by Europeans. In a few instances, fragments of human skulls have been found so well preserved as to enable a comparison to be drawn between the crania of '20
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