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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. [19]-21 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 20

     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 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
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

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