The Latest Indian Mound
From: History of Will County, Illinois
By: August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1928

The Latest Indian Mound. - The following account is taken from the Joliet Herald-News for July 22, 1928. Adele Fay Williams, who writes each week for this paper, contributes an account of Indian Mounds beside graves of pioneers. Oakwood cemetery was used by the Red Man as a burial place before the Whites buried there:

"Interesting things may go on in one's own neighborhood, one's own honest to goodness home town, strange as it may seem to home folk.

"Among these interesting things may be reckoned the various telling explorations of Indian mounds, chief among which are the important researches of George Langford, who has become internationally known thru his study of Indian mounds.

"One of the most recent explorations, or surveys, has been sent out by the Illinois State Archaeological Survey for Chicago University, headed by Dr. Fay Cooper Cole, which has finished a session of study here which will take an important place in the history of the work in Illinois.

"The place is on the very edge of Oakwood cemetery, at the south on the brow of a declivity where an Indian mound has been partially dissected, as may be seen in the accompanying sketch.

"Here graduate students from Chicago university have carefully, even tenderly, explored the mound to avoid destroying any of the valuable relics to be found there.

"The cut thru the center of the mound may be seen in the picture, in its woodsy setting. But now the work is done, and the student investigators will take another week to build up the mound exactly as it was before. Only a smallish part of the mound has been tapped and 'Conservation' has been the motto of the group, according to Wilton Krogman, director in charge.

"Altho Mr. Krogman considers himself a student, he is a graduate of the University of Chicago and has had three years graduate work in anthropology. He says he is in the work up to his neck. As he is six feet four it means a lot.

"One hundred 'Alas poor Yoricks' - that is to say perfect or nearly perfect skulls of Indians were found in the brief time of work there.

"By arrangement with Arthur Leach, head of the cemetery board, the university workers were to be moderate and considerate in their diggings and scrapings and consequently the work progressed swiftly with perfect satisfaction to the workers and the town authorities.

"The attitude of these workers who are dedicating themselves to scientific research with the whole hearted, unflagging energy, is an interesting examplar of the results of enthusiasm.

"It was interesting to watch the work as it progressed in that sunny corner of Oakwood, where the big oak tree shaded the graves of some of Joliet's pioneer citizens side by side with the mound that held so many relics of the noble red man.

"Thorne Deuel, one of these notable workers, was a former major in the U. S. Aviation Corps, a graduate student of Columbia University, as well as a graduate of West Point.

"Robert R. Jones was a member of the class of '21, a member of Carroll College, Waukeshaw, Wisconsin, and of the 1923 class of Iowa university and is now hoping to achieve the distinction of a Ph. D., at Chicago. Mr. Jones is most interested in museum work. Robert Engeberg, one of the younger ones, has just been graduated from Chicago, class of '28, and expects to make archaeology his life work.

"Henri Stearns Denninger is a student in Rush Medical School, expecting to become an ear, nose and throat specialist. He has both French and German blood in his veins. And George Karl Gustav Neumann came from Hamburg, Germany, as may be supposed. He came in 1920 to study at the U. of C., his Mecca. He will be graduated in 1930 in order to follow physical anthropology and probably museum work as his profession.

"All this serves as an interesting cross section on the ideals of a certain influential portion of the students of today, something that was disclosed by the digging of the Indian mound.

"This exploring troupe was housed in a commodious tent just below the hill, in sight of the mound. Nor was the ardor of the diggers dampened by frequent rains.

"From here they will depart for Quincy, Illinois, where there are more mounds to conquer.

"And there were other interesting circumstances observed in connection with this ancient Indian mound."

Later reports (July 29, 1928), stated that they had taken out one hundred skeletons from the trench through the center of the mound. The students who made the explorations estimate that one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty skeletons remain in the ground. No Indian utensils were found. A few pieces of pottery were uncovered. The absence of any of these things seems to indicate some pestilence killed this large number. It was a common grave. The bodies were placed in a miscellaneous order, some prostrate, some sitting up with knees folded against the chest, and others on the side. The placing indicates that the bodies were placed in the grave in a hurry. They were found eight feet below the surface of the mound. This indicates that earth was carried there and put above the common grave as a sort of monument.

The last Indian Treaty was made in Chicago in 1833 and the last Indians left these parts in 1835. At least two white settlers lived within a mile of the mound as early as 1827. Neither the records of the settlers nor the traditions of the Indians give any reports of this burial. It is safe to assume that the interment occurred more than two centuries ago.


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