THE chief object of the following notes is to confirm what may seem the hazardous assertions of the text, and to show that imagination, wherever practicable, has helped itself cautiously forward by a hand placed on the shoulder of fact. Many of the extracts from antiquarian or scientific works, may seem to the general reader of unusual length, but he may rest assured, that they all contain matter in which he may reasonably feel some interest. The facts connected with the subjects of this work, have furnished for many years topics for the zealous and enthusiastic research and discussion of intelligent Americans throughout the whole country, and which are likely to prove more attractive to the imagination, the farther we recede from the gray and venerable age in which they existed. As our own history assumes a prouder and loftier crest in the noonday concourse and throng of nations, she will more fondly and reverently cast back her regards toward the first fountains of her origin. Is it too much a pastime of the fancy to believe that, as Americans, in the progress of time, attain the stature of a generous manhood, they will more affectionately grasp the shadowy hand extended to them by that dead old nation that built the mounds. The swifter the present time yields its concerns and its labors to the simple agency of steam and iron, the more earnestly, it seems to me, will it look back to that great embodiment of natural and unmechanical strength, the Mastodon of the western prairie. As men and day-laborers we dwell in the present as gods and diviner beings, we reside in the past and the future!
History nor chronicle presents to the mind a more august or imposing subject of speculation than the unrecorded race that has departed like a shadow, from the glorious and magnificent west. Here we can enjoy a spectacle of which the imagination is chief architect, where no vulgar circumstance intrudes, and where the actors are heroic and all the decorations in the highest style the fancy chooses to furnish. On the great rivers of the west we may launch, in that remote and doubtful age, the mightiest ships with wide spread sails, and on their banks we may rear the gorgeous palace and solemn temple without the meaner aid of builder or mason. Who shall gainsay the cheerful and glorious labors of the fancy! Into our minds let a thousand tender and affecting thoughts enter of the lovers that have wooed, and wooed in vain, of hearts that have broken in the agony of sharp bereavements, of ambition deposed and genius blighted within the walls of that ancient and departed people. Who will refuse to the heart this melancholy pleasure! It is good for us to have that part of our nature which connects us with far-off times, awakened and kindled. A decaying bone, an old helmet, a mouldering fragment of wall or hearthstone, may call us back into centuries that are gone, and make us feel our kindred with generations buried long ago.
NOTE TO PREFACE.
THE following passages are quoted from the interesting paper on "THE GIGANTIC MASTODON," in Godman's "American Natural History."
"In various parts of North America single bones of extraordinary size had been occasionally disinterred, without exciting more than temporary curiosity, or leading to any thing better than wild and unsatisfactory speculation. Some persons regarded them as the relics of a gigantic race of men, of whose existence no other traces remained: others, who appeared willing to surpass all absurdity, suggested that they might have belonged to the angels who were expelled their celestial habitations; while a third, and more rational party, concluded that they were the bones of an animal still in existence, or belonged to a larger variety of the well known elephant species. The inquiry generally ceased when the novelty of their discovery passed away; those by whom they were found were in pursuit of other objects, and very frequently neglected to preserve the fragments already obtained. But when situations were explored where they were procured in greater abundance, and the curiosity of European naturalists was awakened, these relics were eagerly sought for, until nearly a whole skeleton was obtained; the fact satisfactorily established, that these bones belonged to a peculiar race never before known, and, what was still more surprising, that the whole race was utterly extinct.
We find as early as the year 1712, a letter from Dr. Mather to Dr. Woodward, published in the Philosophical Transactions, announcing that some bones and teeth of a monstrous size had been discovered at Albany in New-York. In the year 1739, some savages belonging to the company of a French officer, named Longueil, who was descending the Ohio to the Mississippi, found, at a short distance from the river, at the edge of a marsh, some bones, grinders and tusks, belonging to this unknown animal. The year after Longueil took to Paris a thighbone, the extremity of a tusk, and three grinders, which are still preserved there. Since that time these bones have been discovered in many places; though, in consequence of the notice first attracted by the specimens found on the Ohio river, the name of Animal of the Ohio had been bestowed on this creature, yet this name, and that of Mammoth, have at length been entirely superseded by that proposed by Cuvier. About the year 1740, vast numbers of these bones, which had been washed up by the current of the Ohio, or were purposely digged for, were found in Kentucky. The eagerness to procure them, and the haste with which they were sent to Europe, retarded the knowledge of the true character of the animal as it became impossible to procure or recognise the bones belonging to different skeletons, or to determine their exact numbers and proportions. Over France, England and Germany, they were in this manner scattered in confusion; and we need not be surprised that naturalists were long in forming just ideas of the character of the animal, or indulged so much the disposition to maintain theories established on such slight foundations. The force of prejudice may be clearly seen in the perseverance with which Buffon, and some other scientific men, maintained that these bones belonged to a variety of the elephant race; for if he admitted that they did not belong to that kind, he must have acknowledged that they were the bones of an extinct genus, which was an idea not then proposed, but has since most amply been proved true, and a vast number of extinct species discovered. It was not until the year 1801, a period of eighty-nine years from the first discovery of the bones at Albany, that any hopes were entertained of finding an entire skeleton of this wonderful and interesting animal. In the year 1824, a considerable part of a skeleton was raised in New-Jersey by some scientific gentlemen of New-York; but they have not discovered any thing more than was previously made known by the exertions of Messrs. Peale; the head, which is the only important part wanting, was too much decomposed to enable them to form any idea of its figure.
The emotions experienced, when for the first time we behold the giant relics of this great animal, are those of unmingled awe. We cannot avoid reflecting on the time when this huge frame was clothed with its peculiar integuments, and moved by appropriate muscles; when the mighty heart dashed forth its torrents of blood through vessels of enormous caliber, and the Mastodon strode along in supreme dominion over every other tenant of the wilderness. However we examine what is left to us, we cannot help feeling that this animal must have been endowed with a strength exceeding that of other quadrupeds, as much as it exceeded them in size; and, looking at its ponderous jaws, armed with teeth peculiarly formed for the most effectual crushing of the firmest substances, we are assured that its life could only be supported by the destruction of vast quantities of food.
Enormous as were these creatures during life, and endowed with faculties proportioned to the bulk of their frames, the whole race has been extinct for ages. No tradition nor human record of their existence has been saved, and but for the accidental preservation of a comparatively few bones, we should never have dreamed that a creature of such vast size and strength once existed, nor could we have believed that such a race had been extinguished for ever. Such, however, is the fact ages after ages have rolled away empires and nations have risen, flourished, and sunk into irretrievable oblivion, while the bones of the Mastodon, which perished long before the period of their origin, have been discovered, scarcely changed in color, and exhibiting all the marks of perfection and durability. That a race of animals so large, and consisting of so many species, should become entirely and universally extinct, is a circumstance of high interest; for it is not with the Mastodon as with the Elephant, which still continues to be a living genus, although many of its species have become extinct: the entire race of the Mastodon has been utterly destroyed, leaving nothing but the "mighty wreck" of their skeletons, to testify that they once were among the living occupants of this land."
NOTES TO PART FIRST.
Note (I)--Page 6.
ATWATER in his "Western Antiquities," a work full of curious information on the subjects of which it treats, gives the following description of the fortifications at Circleville, Ohio:
There are two forts, one being an exact circle, the other an exact square. The former is surrounded by two walls with a deep ditch between them the latter is encompassed by one wall without any ditch the former was sixty-nine rods in diameter, measuring from outside to outside of the circular outer wall the latter is exactly fifty-five rods square, measuring the same way. The walls of the circular fort were at least twenty feet in height, measuring from the bottom of the ditch before the town of Circleville was built. The inner wall was of clay taken up probably in the northern part of the fort where was a low place, and is still considerably lower than any other part of the work. The outside wall was taken from the ditch which is between these walls, and is alluvial, consisting of pebbles worn smooth in water and sand, to a very considerable depth, more than fifty feet at least. The outside of the wall is about five or six feet in height now; on the inside the ditch is at present, generally not more than eighteen feet. They are disappearing before us daily and will soon be gone. The walls of the square fort are at this time, where left standing, ten feet in height. There were eight gateways or openings leading into the square fort, and only one in the circular fort. Before each of these openings was a mound of earth perhaps four feet high, forty feet perhaps in diameter at the base, and twenty or upwards at the summit. These mounds for two rods or more, are exactly in front of the gateways, and were intended for the defence of these openings.
As this work was a perfect square, so the gateways and watch towers were equi-distant from each other. These mounds were in a perfectly straight line, and exactly parallel with the wall.
D (The reader is referred to a plate) shows the site of a once very remarkable ancient mound of earth, With a semicircular pavement on its eastern side nearly fronting, as the plate represents the only gateway leading into the fort. This mound is entirely removed; but the outline of the semicircular pavement may still be seen in many places, notwithstanding the dilapidations of time and those occasioned by the hand of man. This mound, the pavement, the walk from the east to its elevated summit, the contents of the mound, & c., will be described under the head of mounds.
The earth in these walls was as nearly perpendicular as it could be made to lie. This fort had originally but one gateway leading from it on its eastern side, and that was defended by a mound of earth several feet in height. Near the centre of this work was a mound with a semicircular pavement on its eastern side, some of the remains of which may still be seen by an intelligent observer. The mound has been entirely removed so as to make the street level where it once stood.
B (Referring to a plate) is a square fort adjoining the circular one, the area of which has been stated already. The wall which surrounds this work, is generally now about ten feet in height, where it has not been manufactured into brick. There are seven gateways leading into this fort, besides the one that communicates with the square fortification; that is, one at each angle and another in the wall just half way between the angular ones. Before each of these gateways was a mound of earth of four or five feet in height, intended for the defence of these openings. The extreme care of the authors of these works to protect and defend every part of the circle, is no where visible about this square fort. The former is defended by two high walls; the latter by one. The former has a deep ditch encircling it; this has none. The former could be entered at one place only; this at eight and those about twenty feet broad. The present town of Circleville covers all the round and the western half of the square fort. These fortifications, where the town stands, will entirely disappear in a few years, and I have used the only means within my power to perpetuate their memory by the annexed drawing and this brief description. Where the wall of the square fort has been manufactured into brick, the workmen found some ashes, calcined stones, sticks, and a little vegetable mould; all of which must have been taken up from the surface of the surrounding plain. As the square fort is a perfect square, so the gateways or openings are at equal distances from each other, and on a right line parallel with the wall. The walls of this work vary a few degrees from north and south, east and west, but not more than the needle varies, and not a few surveyors have, from this circumstance, been impressed with the belief that the authors of those works were acquainted with astronomy. What surprised me on measuring these forts, was the exact manner in which they had laid down their circle and square; so that after every effort, by the most careful survey, to detect some error in their measurement, we found that it was impossible, and that the measurement was much more correct than it would have been, in all probability, had the present inhabitants undertaken to construct such work. Let those consider this circumstance, who affect to believe that these antiquities were raised by the ancestors of the present race of Indians. Having learned something of astronomy, what nation living as our Indians do, in the open air, with the heavenly bodies in full view, could have forgotten such knowledge. Some hasty travellers who have spent an hour or two here, have concluded that the "forts" at Circleville were not raised for military, but for religious purposes, because there were two extraordinary tumuli there. A gentleman in one of our Atlantic cities, who has never crossed the Alleghanies, has written to me that he is fully convinced that they were raised for religious purposes. Men thus situated, and with no correct means of judging, will hardly be convinced by any thing l can say. Nor do I address myself to them directly or indirectly; for it has long been my maxim, that it is worse than vain to spend one's time in endeavoring to reason men out of opinions for which they never had any reasons.
The round fort was picketed in, if we are to judge from the appearance of the ground on and about the walls. Half-way up the outside of the inner wall, is, a place distinctly to be seen, where a row of pickets once stood, and where it was placed when this work of defence was originally erected. Finally, this work about its walls and ditch, eight years since, presented as much of a defensive aspect as forts which were occupied in our wars with the French in 1755, such as Oswego Fort, Stanwin, and others. These works have been examined by the first military men in the United States, and they have uniformly declared their opinion to be, that they were military works of defence." Pp. 45 to 48.
In Drake's "Book of the Indians," (fifth edition) the reader will find other military remains described:
"Further up the little Miami at Deerfield, are other interesting remains but those which have attracted more attention than any others in the Miami country, are situated six miles from Lebanon, above the mouth of Toad's Fork, an eastern branch of the Miami. On the summit of a ridge at least two hundred feet above the valley of the river, there are two irregular trapezoidal figures, connected at a point where the ridge is very much narrowed by a ravine. The wall, which is entirely of earth, is generally eight or ten feet high; but in one place, where it is conducted over level ground for a short distance, it rises to eighteen. Its situation is accurately adjusted to the brow of the hill; and as there is in addition to the Miami on the west, deep ravines on the north, the. south-east and south, it is a position of great strength. The angles in this wall, both retreating and salient, are numerous and generally acute. The openings, or gateways, are not less than eighty. They are rarely at equal distances, and are sometimes within two or three rods of one another. They are not opposite to, or connected with, any existing artificial objects, or topographical peculiarities, and present, therefore, a paradox of some difficulty." Book I. p. 42.
Note (2) Page 9.
That a numerous population once dwelt in the midst of our western mounds, we are satisfied from every evidence that we are entitled to require. Their public works, fortifications, walls, and towers, testify to the labors of a populous nation: but if we look into their graves, we receive a more emphatic answer than all their living labors could furnish. Every hillock in the mighty west is bursting with the relics of this extinguished race; every plain is crowded with the pale assemblies of their skeletons, silently awaiting the only voice that can summon them to speak of the past.
The particular number mentioned in the text is derived from Mr. Brackenridge, who conjectured that there were once five thousand villages of this people in the valley of the Mississippi. Many of the mounds contain an immense number of skeletons. Those of Big Grave Creek are believed to be completely filled with human bones. The large ones, all along the principal rivers in this state, (Ohio,) are also filled with skeletons. Millions of human beings have been buried in these tumuli. From the Rocky Mountains in the West, to the Alleghanies in the East, the country must have been more or less settled by them.
"Almost every traveller of late years has said something of the mounds or fortifications scattered over the south and west, from Florida to the Lakes, and from the Hudson to Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. By some they are reckoned at several thousand. Mr. Brackenridge supposes there may be three thousand; but it would not outrage probability, I presume, to set them down at twice that number. Indeed no one can form any just estimate in respect to the number of mounds and fortifications which have been built, any more than of the period of time which has passed since they were originally erected, for several obvious reasons; one or two of which way be mentioned: the plough, excavations, and levellings for towns, roads, and various other works, have entirely destroyed hundreds of them, which had never been described, and whose sites cannot be ascertained. Another great destruction of them has been effected by the changing of the course of rivers."--Drake, Book I. p. 41.
Note (3) Page 15.
"Like many people, those aboriginals, in their various methods of inhumation, deposited something of real or supposed value with the deceased. Perhaps they always did. The contrary cannot be asserted, as many of the articles might have been. perishable. This practice assures us of their belief in a future existence." Conjectures respecting the Ancient Inhabitants of North America: by MOSES FISK, Esq., of Hilham, Tennessee.--Vol. I. Archζologia Americanζ.
Mr. Harris, a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, gives the following account of the ancient graves which are scattered over the whole face of the western country:
"The places called graves are small mounds of earth, from some of which human bones have been taken. In one were found the bones, in their natural position, of a man buried nearly east and west, with a quantity of isinglass (mica membranea) on his breast. In the others, the bones laid promiscuously, some of them appeared partly burnt and calcined by fire, also stones, evidently burnt, charcoal, arrow-heads, and fragments of a kind of earthenware. An opening being made at the summit of the great conic mound, there were found the bones of an adult, in a horizontal position, covered with a flat stone. Beneath this skeleton were thin stones, placed vertically, at small and different distances, but no bones were discovered. That this venerable monument might not be defaced, the opening was closed without further search. It is worthy of remark, that the walls and mounds were not thrown up from ditches, but raised by bringing the earth from some distance, or taking it up uniformly from the surface of the plain. The parapets were probably made of equal height and breadth, but the waste of time has rendered them lower and broader in some parts than others. It is in vain to conjecture what tools or machinery were employed in the construction of these works; but there is no reason to suppose that any of the implements were of iron. Plates of copper have been found in some of the mounds, but they appear to be parts of armor. Nothing that would answer the purpose of a shovel has ever been discovered."
Mr. Harris quotes Dr. Cutter upon the probable antiquity of these mounds. The Doctor conceives that the only clue remaining is the growth upon them. He says, "one tree, decayed at the centre, contained at least 463 circles. Its age was undoubtedly more than 463 years. Other trees, in a growing state, were, from their appearance, much older. There were likewise the strongest marks of a previous growth, as large as the present. Admitting the age of the present growth to be 450 years, and that it had been preceded by one of equal size and age, which as probably as otherwise was not the first, the works have been deserted more than 900 years."
Mr. Harris remarks that about 90 miles from Marietta, on a large plain, bounded by one of the western branches of the Muskingum, are a train of ancient works, nearly two miles in extent, the ramparts of which are yet in some places upwards of 18 feet perpendicular height. At Licking are very extensive works, some of them different in construe, Lion from those at Marietta; particularly several circular forts, with but one entrance. They are formed of a parapet from 7 to 12 feet in height, without any ditch; the interior being of the same level with the plain on which they are raised. Forts of this kind, which are also found in other places, are from 3 chains to 15 or more in diameter. There are also large walls and mounds on the Great Miami and the Scioto."
The original height, our author thinks, was diminished by the gradual wasting away of the earth, and the filling up of the interior, and the accretion of the soil over the whole surface of the plain, by the annual deposit of leaves and the decay of timber. The utensils he considers to have belonged to a people far advanced in the arts.
"The elevated squares might be the foundations of larger towns and arsenals. The excavations or caves were undoubtedly wells, now filled up, water being an essential article, in a besieged place. Some of these are above 40 feet in diameter, and about 5 feet in depth" have some resemblance to sacred enclosures found in Mexico.
"The smaller mounds, on the great plains, are filled with bones, laid in various directions, in an equal state of decay, and appear to be piled over heaps of slain, after some great battle. Whereas the larger mounds, near the fenced cities, are composed of strata, if I may so say, of bones in more regular order, of full-grown people and of infants, and in different stages of decay, and seem formed of the bodies of such as have died of sickness, or were killed in occasional skirmishes, at different times, with intervals, perhaps, of some years. In some have been found plates of copper rivetted together, copper beads, various implements of stone, and a very curious kind of porcelain." The Journal of a Tour into the Territory north-west of the Allegheny Mountains, made in 1806: by THADDEUS MASON HARRIS, Member of Mass. His. Soc. Boston, 1805.
Note (4) Page 16.
The Rev. Robert G. Wilson, a receiving officer of the American Antiquarian Society, furnished Mr. Atwater with minute information concerning a mound, which once stood near the centre of the town of Chilicothe, Ohio.
Its perpendicular height, at the time of its demolition, was about fifteen feet, and the diameter of its base about sixty. It was composed of sand, and contained human bones, belonging to skeletons which were buried in different parts of it, It was not until this pile of earth was removed, and the original surface exposed to view, that a probable conjecture of its original design could be formed. About twenty feet square of the surface had been levelled and covered with bark. On the centre of this lay a human skeleton, over which had been spread a mat, manufactured either from weeds or bark. On the breast lay what had been a piece of copper, in the form of a cross, which had now become verdigris. On the breast also lay a stone ornament, with two perforations, one near each end, through which passed a string, by means of which it was suspended round the wearer's neck. On this string, which was made of sinews, and very much injured by time, was placed a great many beads, made of ivory or bone. "With these facts before us," concluded Dr. Wilson, "we are left to conjecture at what time this individual lived; what were his heroic achievements in the field of battle; his wisdom and eloquence in the councils of his nation. But his contemporaries have testified, in a manner not to be mistaken, that among them he was held in grateful remembrance."
Note (5) Page 16,
"On the beach near the mouth of the Muskingum, was discovered a curious ornament. It is made of white marble, in form a circle about three inches in diameter. The outer edge is about one inch in thickness, with a narrow rim. The sides are deeply concave, and in the centre is a hole about half an inch in diameter, It is beautifully finished, and so smooth that Dr. Hildreth is of the opinion that it was once highly polished. It is now in the possession of David Putnam, Esq., of Marietta, Ohio. Other articles, similar to this, have been found in several mounds in many places. The use to which the one described was put, cannot certainly be known. Was it a rude wind instrument of music? or was it a badge of office and distinction?" Atwater. Pp. 131, 132.
With regard to the pleasure gardens, which are alluded to more than once in the text, I may as well quote here a passage from the 26th volume of the N. A. Review; at the same time taking the liberty to differ entirely from the remarks of the writer as to the barbarous character of other ancient memorials found throughout the West: "In some cursory remarks upon the large mounds in the vicinity of St. Louis, Mr. Schoolcraft justly observes, that enough has certainly been written on the subject of our mounds to prove how little we know either of their origin or of their interior structure. These remains of ancient art have attracted the attention of travellers since the first settlement of the country; and standing as they do, the sole monuments of human industry, amid interminable forests, it is not surprising that curiosity should be busy in investigating the age and objects of their founders. But little has been effected, however, to satisfy the rational inquirer; and before much progress can be made, all the facts connected with the topographical situation and construction of these works, and with the remains of earthen and metallic instruments found in and about them, should be collected and preserved. The Rev. Isaac McCoy, the Principal of the Missionary establishment upon the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, a man of sound judgment and rigid integrity, has observed a class of works in that country, differing essentially from any which have been elsewhere found. As his account of them is interesting, we shall transcribe the letter he has addressed to us.
Aware of the interest you feel in every thing relating to the character and condition of the aborigines of our country, I do myself the pleasure to enclose to you a plot of a tract of land which has been cultivated in an unusual manner for this country, and which was abandoned by its cultivators ages ago. These marks of antiquity are peculiarly interesting because they exhibit the work of civilized and not of savage man. All, or nearly all the other works of antiquity, which have been found in these western regions, convince the observer that they were found by men who had made little or no advance in the arts. If we examine a number of mounds in the same neighborhood, we find them situated without any regard to order in the arrangement, precisely as modern savages place the huts in their villages and plant the corn in their field. If we observe a fortification made of earth, we shall find it exhibits no greater order in its formation, than necessity in a similar case would suggest to an uncultivated Indian of modern days. If it be a wall of stone, the stones are unbroken as they were taken from the quarry, or rather from the neighboring brook or river. In the works, to which I now allude, we find what we suppose to be garden spots, thrown into ridges and walks with so much judgment, good order, and taste in the arrangement, as to forbid a thought that they were formed by uncivilized man. The plans sent you by no means represent the most striking works. I procured them because the places were near my residence. I can find several acres together, laid out into walks and beds in a style which would not suffer by comparison with any gardens in the United States. These places were not cultivated by the early French emigrants to the country, because 1. They evince a population at least twenty times greater than the French ever bad in any of the regions of the lakes in those early times. In the tract of country in which I have observed them, of one hundred and fifty miles in extent, north and south, from Grand River to the Elksheart, I think the number and extent of these ancient improvements indicate a population nearly or quite equal to that of Indiana. 2. The early French establishments were generally made on navigable streams. But these improvements are spread over the whole country. Scarcely a fertile prairie is found on the margin of which we do not observe these evidences of civilization. 3. These works were abandoned by their proprietors long before the country became known to the Europeans. The timber standing, falling and decaying, on these cultivated spots, has precisely the same appearance in respect to age as that immediately adjoining. On a cluster of these beds, a plan of which I send you, I cut down a white oak tree which measured three feet two inches in diameter, two and a half feet above the ground, and which was three hundred and twenty-five years old, if the real age of a tree is indicated by the number of its concentric circles. From the indications yet remaining, it is certain that most of these works have disappeared. We find none in t.he beech, ash or walnut land, because here the earth is loose and mellow to the surface, and not bound with grass. We find them rarely in the prairies far from the timber, because the places of which I speak have been, as I suppose, not fields but gardens convenient to dwelling-houses, which were probably placed in the vicinity of the timber for the same reasons which induce our present settlers to select similar sites for their residence. In what we call barrens, adjoining prairies, the surface of the earth is bound by the grass, in the same mariner as that of the prairie itself, and by that means the ridges are preserved. And notwithstanding the causes which are in daily operation to destroy these works, I am confident I have seen acres of them which will last for centuries, if assailed by no other hand than that of nature. The Indians of Grand River informed me that these appearances are found on all the waters of that river, and that they extend south upon all the waters of the Kekalimazoo. A few are found near Michillimackinac. To use their expression, "the country is full of them." The Indian tradition on this subject, is, that these places were cultivated by a race of men, whom they denominate Prairie Indians, and that they were driven from the country by the united tribes of Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawatomies. The few who survived the calamities of war, went westward, and some may even yet exist beyond the Mississippi. But not the smallest reliance can be placed on any Indian tradition relating to a remote period.' "
A single passage illustrative of the character of this departed people, may be worth extracting from an article in Silliman's Journal for 1834, entitled, "Ten Days in Ohio, from the Diary of a Naturalist."
Speaking of Circleville and its ancient works, he says, "a street has been opened across the little mound which covered the hill, and in removing the earth many skeletons were found in good preservation. A cranium of one of these was in my possession, and is a noble specimen of the race which once occupied these ancient walls. It has a high forehead and large, bold features, with all the phrenological marks of daring and bravery."
Considerable discussion has arisen as to the size of the builders of the mounds; some contending that they were a nation of giants, while others as strenuously argue that they were a race of dwarfs. In this dilemma I have chosen to adopt a middle course and to represent them as mere men. To enlighten the reader, however, as to the state of the question, the following extracts are furnished, the first from Timothy Flint's able work, "Recollections of the Valley of the Mississippi."
"The more the subject of the past races of men and animals in this region is investigated, the more perplexed it seems to become. The huge hones of the animals indicate them to be vastly larger than any that now exist on the earth. All that I have seen and heard of the remains of the men would seem to show that they were smaller than the men of our times. All the bodies that have been found in that state of high preservation, in which they were discovered in nitrous caves, were considerably smaller than the present ordinary stature of men. The two bodies that were found in the vast limestone cavern in Tennessee, one of which I saw at Lexington, were neither of them more than four feet in height. It seemed to me that this must have been nearly the height of the living person. The teeth and nails did not seem to indicate the shrinking of the flesh from them in the desicating process by which they were preserved. The teeth were separated by considerable intervals, and were small, long, white and short, reviving the horrible images of nursery tales of ogres' teeth. The hair seemed to have been sandy or inclining to yellow. It is well known that nothing is so uniform in the present Indian as his long black hair. From the pains taken to preserve the bodies, and the great labor of making the funeral robes in which they were folded, they must have been of the "blood royal," or personages of great consideration in their day. The person that I saw had evidently died by a blow on the skull. The blood had coagulated there into a mass of texture and color sufficiently marked to show that it had been blood. The envelope of the body was double. Two splendid blankets completely woven with the most beautiful feathers of the wild turkey arranged in regular stripes and compartments encircled it. The cloth on which these feathers were woven, was a kind of linen of neat texture, of the same kind with that which is now woven from the fibres of the nettle. The body was evidently that of a female of middle age, and I should suppose that her majesty weighed when I saw her six or eight pounds. At the time that the Lilliputian graves were found on the Maumee in the county of St. Louis, many people weft from that town to satisfy their curiosity by inspecting them. I made arrangements to go, but was called away by indispensable duties. I relate them from memory only, and from the narrative oral and printed of the Rev. Mr. Peck, who examined them on the spot. It appears from him that the graves were numerous, that the coffins were of stone, that the bones in some instances were nearly entire; that the length of the bodies was determined by that of the coffins which they filled, and that the bodies in general could not have been more than from three feet and a half to four feet in length. Thus it should seem that the generations of the past in this region were mammoths and pigmies."
In "Travels in America, performed in 1806, for the purpose of exploring the Rivers Alleghany, Monongahela, Ohio, and Mississippi, and ascertaining the produce and condition of their banks and vicinity, by Thomas Ashe," the reader will find the opposite opinion, with many other curious matters, set forth. The author, after describing with great particularity his labors near Port Harmer in Ohio, says, "I came to a substance, which on the most critical examination I judged to be a mat or mats in a state of entire decomposition and decay. I took up the impalpable powder in my hands and fanned off the remaining dust with my hat. There existed under my feet a beautiful tasselated pavement of small colored stones the color and stones arranged in such a manner as to express harmony and shades, and to portray the full length figure of a warrior under whose feet a snake was exhibited in ample folds. No part of the pavement was exactly of the tasselate character except the space between the outline of the figures and the sides and ends of the entire space. Little more than the actual pavement could be preserved it is composed of flat stones one inch deep, two inches square, and the prevailing colors are white, green, dark blue and pale spotted red; all of which are peculiar to the lakes, and are not to be had nearer. They are evidently known and filled with a precision which proves them to have been but from one common example. The whole was affixed with a thin layer of sand which covered a large piece of beech bark in great decay, whose removal exposed what I was fully prepared to discover from all the previous indications, the remains of a human skeleton of uncommon magnitude extended in a bark shell, which also contained, 1st. An earthen urn or rather pot of earthen ware, in which were several small broken bones and some white sediment. The urn appears to be made of sand and flint vitrified, rings like a rummer glass, holds about two gallons, has a top or cover of the same material, resists fire as completely as iron or brass; 2d. A stone hatchet with a groove round the pole, by which it was fastened with a withe to the handle; 3d. Twenty-four arrow points made of flint and bone, and lying in a position which betrayed their having belonged to a quiver; 4th. A quantity of beads, round, oval, and square; colored green, black, white, blue and yellow; 5th. A conch shell decomposed into a substance like chalk, This shell is fourteen inches long and twenty-three. in circumference 6th. Under a heap of dust and tumous shreds of feathered cloth and hair, a parcel of brass rings cut by an art unknown to me, out of a solid piece of that metal, and in such a manner that the rings are suspended from each other without the aid of solder or any visible agency whatever.
Of the skeleton I have preserved a small part of the vertebral column, a portion of the skull, a part of the under jaw, &c.
Judging from comparison and analogy, the being to whom these remains belonged, could not have been less than seven feet high. That he was a king, sachem, or chief of a very remote period, there can be no manner of doubt."
Note (7) Page 33.
A letter from Dr. S. P. Hildreth, dated July 19, 1819, gives some account of the opening of a tumulus at Marietta, and the various remains of antiquity which it contained.
"In removing the earth which composed an ancient mound in. one of the streets of Marietta, on the margin of the plain, near the fortifications, several curious articles were discovered, the latter part of June last. They appear to have been buried with the body of the person to whose memory this mound was erected. Lying immediately over, or on the forehead of the body, were found three large circular bosses, or ornaments for a sword-belt or a buckler; they are composed of copper, overlaid with a thick plate of silver. The fronts of them are slightly convex, with a depression like a cup in the centre, and measure two inches and a quarter across the face of each. On the back side, opposite the depressed portion, is a copper rivet or nail, around which are two separate plates by which they were fastened to the leather. Two small pieces of the leather were found lying between the plates of one of the bosses; they resemble the skin of an old mummy, and seem to have been preserved by the salts of the copper. The plates of copper are nearly reduced to an oxyde or rust. The silver looks quite black, but is not much corroded, and on rubbing it becomes quite brilliant. Two of these are yet entire: the third one is so much wasted, that it dropped in pieces on removing it from the earth. Around the rivet of one of them is a small quantity of flax or hemp, in a tolerable state of preservation. Near the side of the body was found a plate of silver, which appears to have been the upper part of a sword scabbard; it is six inches in length and two inches in breadth, and weighs one ounce; it has no ornaments or figures, but has three longitudinal ridges, which probably correspond with edges or ridges of the sword: it seems to have been fastened to the scabbard by three or four rivets, the holes of which yet remain in the silver. Two or three broken pieces of a copper tube were also found, filled with iron rust. These pieces, from their appearance, composed the lower end of the scabbard, near the point of the sword. No sign of the sword itself was discovered, except the appearance of rust above mentioned."
A second communication from the same gentleman, to the President of the American Antiquarian Society, will furnish evidence as to the armor and weapons mentioned in the text:
"In addition to the articles found at Marietta, I have procured, from a mound on the Little Muskingum, about four miles from Marietta, some pieces of copper, which appear to have been the front part of a helmet. It was originally about eight inches long and four broad, and has marks of having been attached to leather; it is much decayed, and is now a thin plate.... I have been told by an eye witness, that a few years ago, near Blacksburgh, Virginia, eighty miles from Marietta, there was found about half of a steel bow, which, when entire, would measure five or six feet; the other part was corroded or broken. The father of the man who found it was a blacksmith, and worked up this curious relic, I suppose, with as little remorse as he would an old gun barrel."
Note (8) Page 40.
The author has taken the liberty of transferring an Indian tradition to the credit of their predecessors, the Mound builders. From what source this tradition, recited below, was derived; whether it was the creation purely of a wild and barbarous imagination, or whether it came into their possession from some contact with the Mound-building race, the links of which are now entirely lost, are questions that have passed beyond answer from philosophy or conjecture.
"Some of the Upper Crees, a tribe who inhabit the country in the vicinity of the Athabasca river, have a curious tradition with respect to animals which they state formerly frequented the mountains. They allege that these animals were of frightful magnitude, being from two to three hundred feet in length, and high in proportion; that they formerly lived in the plains a great distance to the eastward; from which they were gradually driven by the Indians to the Rocky Mountains; that they destroyed all smaller animals; and if their agility was equal to their size, would have also destroyed all the natives, &c. One man has asserted that his grandfather told him he saw one of those animals in a mountain pass, where he was hunting, and that on hearing its roar, which he compared to loud thunder, the sight almost left his eyes, and his heart became as small as an infant's." Adventures on the Columbia River: by Ross Cox.
Jefferson, in his "Notes on Virginia," has also attributed a similar legend to the Delawares:
"During the Revolution, a delegation of warriors from the Delaware tribe, told the governor of Virginia that it was a tradition handed down from their fathers, that in ancient times a herd of these tremendous animals came to Big-Bone Licks, and began an universal destruction of the bear, deer, elk, buffaloes, and other animals, which had been created for the use of the Indians; that the Great Man above, looking down and seeing this, was so enraged that he seized his lightning, descended on the earth, seated himself on a neighboring mountain, on a rock, of which his seat and the print of his feet are still to be seen, and hurled his bolts among them, till the whole were slaughtered except the big bull, who, presenting his forehead to the shafts, shook them off as they fell, but missing one, at length, it wounded him in the side; whereon, springing round, he bounded over the Ohio, over the Wabash, the Illinois, and finally over the great lakes, where he is living at this day."
NOTES TO PART SECOND.
Note (1) Page 100.
SHOULD any unlucky doubt disturb the reader's belief in the incident of Bokulla and the hawk, he is referred to the 8th chapter of Ross Cox's "Adventures on the Columbia River." The following should properly have been introduced as a note to page 81. The most curious work that has appeared since Burton's "Anatomic of Melancholy" is, I suspect, "American Antiquities and Discoveries in the West," by Josiah Priest. It is an entire eagle's flight beyond any tract, pamphlet or octavo, that has ever hovered over the mounds and memorials of the Far West. The book is in truth a perfect facsimile of the West itself, where a thigh-bone nudges a piece of pottery; a mummy stands sentinel over a rusty piece of copper; and a whole range of robust fortifications is laid deep and piled high to defend nothing! If there is any single topic of which this book does not treat, we are so unfortunate as not to have formed an acquaintance with the subject or science to which it belongs. Nothing is beyond the reach of Mr. Priest's liberal and comprehensive sympathies: He starts by establishing the location of Mount Ararat, and indulging in sundry shrewd and piercing conjectures as to the signification of Shem, Ham and Japhet; the tumultuous times of Noah's grandson, Peleg, then come in for a share of comment, and the ten lost tribes what book, treating of America, could be perfect without the genealogy of these vagrant Jewish gentlemen? next put in an appearance. Then follow chapters on Welch discoveries, huge Mexican mounds, the state of antediluvian scholarship, on draining, cannibalism, and the Lord knows what else! all rushing together, without order or guidance, like a drove of unhaltered mules. To do Mr. Priest justice, however, (and every man who labors in the great field of the West is entitled to some portion of honor) he has accumulated in this book a large amount of very curious information. He, for instance, introduces a story like the following:
"During the last year, 1832, a Mr. Ferguson communicated to the editor of the Christian Advocate and Journal, a discovery, which ho examined and described as follows: 'On a mountain, called the Lookout Mountain, belonging to the vast Alleghanian chain, running between the Tennessee and Coos rivers, rising about one thousand feet above the level of the surrounding valley. The top of the mountain is mostly level, hut presents to the eye an almost barren waste. On this range, notwithstanding its height, a river has its source, which, after traversing for about seventy miles, plunges over a precipice. The rock, from which the water falls, is circular, and juts over considerably. Immediately below the fall, on each side of the river, are bluff's, which rise two hundred feet. Around one of these bluffs the river makes a bend, which gives it the form of a peninsula. On the top of this are the remains of what is esteemed fortifications, which consist of a stone wall built on the very brow of this tremendous ledge. The whole length of the wall, following the varying courses of the brink of this precipice, is thirty-seven rods and eight feet, including about two acres of ground.' The only descent from this place is between two rocks, for about thirty feet, when a bench of the ledge presents itself, from two to five feet in width, and ninety feet long. This bench is the only road or path up from the water's edge to the summit. But just at the foot of the two rocks, where they reach this path, and within thirty feet of the top of the rock, are five rooms, which have been formed by dint of labor. The entrance to those rooms is very small, but when within, they are found to communicate with each other, by doors or apertures. Mr. Ferguson thinks them to have been constructed during some dreadful war, and those who constructed them to have acted on the defensive; and believes that twenty men could have withstood the whole army of Xerxes, as it was impossible for more than one to pass at a time; and might by the slightest push be hurled at least a hundred and fifty feet down the rocks. 'The reader,' concludes Mr. Priest, 'can indulge his own conjectures, whether in the construction of this inaccessible fortress, he does not perceive the remnant of a tribe or nation, acquainted with the arts of excavation and defence; making a last struggle against the invasion of an overwhelming foe; where it is likely they were reduced by famine, and perished amid the yells of their enemies.' " Pp. 176, 177.
While on the subject of these ancient fortifications again, I may as well quote an additional authority "A Journal through the Western Country in the summer of 1816, by David Thomas: Auburn, 1819." In describing the celebrated remains at Circleville, Mr. Thomas says, (p. 94,) "I have noticed the circular enclosure which has shaped the town. There is also a square enclosure that touches it on the east. But though these are stated to be equal in area, the difference of figure is not greater than the mode of construction. The circle is formed of two banks which are separated by a ditch or fosse, about 30 feet wide at the natural surface of the ground, but 60 feet from the top of one bank to the other. Much of the fosse doubtless has been filled from the banks in the lapse of ages, but even at this day, a great excavation is visible. The square on the reverse has no ditch. The bank is about 30 feet wide at the base, 12 feet high, and sufficiently broad on the summit for a wagon road. It is a stupendous work, and yet the whole mass appears to have been carried hither from a distance, This is evident in respect to the north and south sides, which are formed of clay resting on a gravelly sod; and near the west bank, which is composed of the latter material, I saw no excavation from which it could have been taken. Near the north-west corner a swale or draught for water in heavy rains appears both on the inside and outside of the wall, and proves that it could not have been gathered from the adjacent surface of the ground. It is a great singularity that these materials should have been kept separate and distinct. At the corners each kind terminates; and the inner bank of the circular fort is clay, but the outer is gravel. Doubtless the latter was thrown from the ditch, and a stratum of clay may have supplied the other; but it is questionable whether the excavation yielded earth sufficient for both banks." Our author remarks, that if, as is probable, these fortifications were high enough to guard the entrance from missile weapons, a great depression must have taken place. He states that the area enclosed was variously estimated from 5 to 19 acres. The east and west sides of the square, being 17° to the right of the meridian. Hence, some suppose that they were acquainted with the polarity of the magnet; that by it the square was drawn, and that the time can be calculated by its variation. The small quantities of iron found in the mounds evinces that this people were not acquainted with its manufacture. No glass or substance like it has been found. The magnetic period, if calculated at 1000 years, which is twice as great as is probable, would not give the result within one such period. This mound when discovered was overshadowed with a forest. Considerable of the north end south walls bas been converted into brick. In a note to the passage, of which the substance has been above given, Mr. Thomas discusses the vexed question of the original peopling of this country at great length and with much ability. He states that the comparative size of various remains is not, as Dr. Drake supposes, an index to their origin, for many of these fortifications were destroyed in their progressive state. He combats the opinion of Atwater, that the Mound-builders first settled, subsequently to the Indians, in the North; that the latter settled in the Atlantic coast, and that the Mound-builders, on their emigration thither, were so pressed by the Indians that they followed the water courses to the south, and thence migrated to Mexico and Peru. He thinks the assertion of Dr. Drake, that the mounds decrease in size, beauty and regularity, in a ratio corresponding directly to the distance from Mexico, and that the fact that the peccary, (the Mexican hog), an animal only known there, has been found in a cave in Kentucky, is evidence that a Mexican colony inhabited Ohio and the West. "The fortifications at Circleville and at other places, evince a population not only too numerous to be supplied with food from the forest, but too laborious to be engaged in such uncertain pursuits, and on what did they subsist becomes the question. Nothing of this part of their story is known. None of our indigenous vegetables, seem well adapted to supply their wants; and as the regions, which they inhabited, were all favorable to the production of the Indian corn, it is no improbable conjecture that this grain was their staff of life."
Persons disposed to visit ancient fortifications may find remains at the following places:
1. About two miles southeasterly from Aurora, a triangular area of one or two acres is protected on two sides by precipitous banks, and on the other by two ditches. Bones of animals and fragments of ancient earthenware are found in beds of ashes.
2. On the hill south of Auburn, also a circular ditch enclosing about two acres, one and a quarter miles N. N. E. of Auburn. The only opening or gateway appears in the side adjacent to a spring, and is formed by extending one end of the ditch beyond the other. This simple contrivance rendered such mounds as those of Circleville unnecessary. No vestige of iron has been discovered, although fragments of earthenware are numerous.
3. On the west of the Seneca River, N. W. from Montezuma. On the east shore near this village a small mound appears.
4. We also learn that considerable fortifications are visible near Black River, between Brownsville and Le Roy.
Note (2) p. 118.
I am not sure that I can conclude the notes on the Mastodon better than by furnishing the reader a summary of information relating to that vast creature, made up of facts and discoveries, as well as tradition and conjecture, partly gathered from a valuable note to De Witt Clinton's Discourse before the Lit. and Phil. Society of this city, and tartly prepared from other sources.
"The traditions of the Indians," says Clinton in the authority alluded to, which is a dissertation rather than a note, "and the speculations of philosophers respecting this enormous animal have been various, and, perhaps on the whole, unsatisfactory. It is certain that the Indians had some notions respecting the mammoth, which they might have derived from tradition, or, after seeing its remains, they might have invented the fables which exist. Charlevois, in his voyage to North America, (vol. I.), says, 'There is also a very diverting tradition among the Indians, of a great elk of such monstrous size that the rest are like pismires in comparison of him; his legs, they say, are so long that eight feet of snow are not the least encumbrance to him; his hide is proof against all manner of weapons, and he has a sort of arm proceeding from his shoulder, which he uses as we do ours. He is always attended by a vast number of elks, which form his court, and which render him all the services he requires.' This description, respecting the arm, appears like the proboscis of an elephant. Kalm, who travelled in this country in 1749, says, 'some years ago a skeleton of an amazing great animal has been found in that part of Canada where the Illinois live on the river Ohio. The Indians were surprised at the sight of it and when they were asked what they thought it was, they answered that it must be the chief or father of all the beavers. It was of a prodigious bulk, and had thick white teeth about 10 inches long. It was looked upon as the skeleton of an elephant. A French lieutenant in the fort, who had seen it, assured me that the figure of the whole snout was yet to be seen, though it was half mouldered. He added, that he had not observed that any of the bones were taken away, but thought the skeleton lay quite perfect there. I have heard people talk of this monstrous skeleton in several other parts of Canada.' Kalm' s Travels, vol. 3.
In the 20th volume of Silliman's Journal will be found a "Report of Messrs. Cooper, J. A. Smith and De Kay, to the Lyceum of Nat. History, on a collection of fossil bones, discovered at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, in September, 1830, and recently brought to New-York." The report is followed with remarks by the editor, which corroborate certain suggestions in the First Part of this work. "Having (since the above account was received) seen the collection of bones so accurately described above, I cannot refrain from attempting to convey to others something of the impression made upon my own mind, on entering the room containing this astonishing assemblage of bones, many of which are of gigantic size. They produce in the beholder the conviction that races of animals formerly existed on this continent, not only of vast magnitude, but which must also have been very numerous; and the Mastodon, at least, ranged in herds over probably the entire American continent. It is stated by the person who exhibits this collection, that the skull and the tusks which it contains, weigh upwards of five hundred pounds; that a pair of tusks now lying in the room and supposed to belong to the same species, weighed six hundred pounds when taken from the ground; and these are nearly perfect; and when we regard them as being merely appendages, and sustained by the animal at a great mechanical disadvantage, since they do not like horns rest upon the head, but project from it laterally forward, we can easily imagine that it would require the most powerful muscles to sustain and wield the entire cranium tusks, muscles and integuments. We shall be happy to see additional illustrations from the able committee to whom we are indebted for the previous statement of facts. We will, however, venture to mention the extraordinary curvature of the tusks those of the elephant we believe are always in the form of a bent bow, but these have almost the shape of a sickle, with the blade curved to one side; they are sharp and pointed."
In the year 1748, M. Fabri, who had made great excursions into the northern parts of Louisiana and the southern regions of Canada, informed Buffon that he had seen heads and skeletons of enormous quadrupeds, called by the savages the father of oxen; and that the thigh bones of the animals were from to 6 feet in length. Buffon's Nat. Hist., transl. by Smellie, vol. 9.
In Siberia a similar animal was supposed to exist under ground, and many fables were related respecting it, under the Russian name of mammoth. Notwithstanding these traditions and reports, the attention of the philosophers of Europe was not fully drawn to this subject until 1765, when Mr. George Croghan saw, in the vicinity of a large salt marsh, on the country bordering on the Ohio, immense bones and teeth, and he sent some of them to England, where they immediately became the subject of speculation and discussion. Before this similar bones were discovered in the Russian dominions. Dr. Hunter, the celebrated anatomist, from an examination of the teeth, pronounced them to belong to a carnivorous nondescript animal. Daubenton declared at one time that this animal was an elephant; and at another time thought that the teeth were those of an hippopotamus, and conceived that the animal partook of both of these species, and was a real mule. Muller supposed that they belonged to certain unknown quadrupeds, denominated maumouts, or mammoths from the Russian name, supposed to have been derived from the Hebrew, Behemoth. Buffon was of opinion, that, independently of the elephant and hippopotamus, whose relics are equally found in the two continents, another animal, common to both, has formerly existed, the size of which has greatly exceeded that of the largest elephants; and at one period he supposed that it was seven times larger. Pallas believed that the bones found in Siberia were those of the elephant and rhinoceros, and said that those countries, which are now desolated by the rigors of intense cold, have formerly enjoyed all the advantages of the southern latitudes. Gmelin supposes that vast inundations in the south had driven the elephants to the north, where they would all at once perish by the rigor of the climate. Others are of opinion that the tusk and skeleton belonged to the elephant, and the molars to the hippopotamus; as the grinders were not those of the former, some thought that they were the bones of the hippopotamus only; others of a monster of the ocean. And the Abbe Clavigero says, "that they may from, what appears have belonged to giants of the human as well as of any other race." Jefferson asserts that the skeleton of the mammoth bespeaks an animal of five or six times the cubic volume of the elephant, and that the grinders are five times as large are square, and the grinding surfaces studded with four or five rows of blunt points; whereas, those of the elephant are broad and thin, and their grinding surface flat." To mention all the hypotheses and fables which this subject has produced, would be useless and consume too much time; but two or three more are worth stating, on account of their whimsical absurdity. One writer says, that the bones in question are the remains of certain angelic beings, the original tenants of this our terrestrial globe, in its primitive state, till, for their transgressions, both were involved in ruin; after which this shattered planet was refitted for its present inhabitants. Another imagines that at some remote period the places in which these bones were found might have laid in the track of a conqueror unknown to the historians of Europe; that it might have been the scene of a battle, and the animals in question part of the baggage train destroyed by slaughter or disease, and left, in the hurry of flight, to puzzle and set at defiance generations yet unborn.
Within a few years a better opportunity has been afforded of forming just conclusions respecting this animal. Within the extent of a few miles five or ten skeletons have been discovered at the bottom of marl pits in Orange and Ulster counties, and (from the calcareous nature of the substance in which they were deposited) in a high state of preservation. One of these skeletons has been mounted and placed in its natural form and with almost all the bones in Peale's Museum in Philadelphia.
In 1799, upon the shores of the Frozen ocean, near the mouth of the river Lena, in Siberia, a Tongouse chief discovered in the midst of a rock of ice, a substance which did not resemble the floating pieces of wood usually found there; he endeavored in vain to ascertain what it was at that time. About the close of the second summer enabled him to know that it was a mammoth; but he could not succeed in obtaining the tusks of the animal until the end of the fifth year, when the ice, which enclosed it, having partly melted, the level became sloped, and this enormous mass, pushed forward by its own weight, fell over upon its side on a sand bank. In March, 1804, the Chief Schoumachoff obtained the tusks and sold them for fifty roubles. In the summer of 1806, Michael Adams, a member of the Academy of St. Petersburgh, visited the mammoth in company with the chief, and found it in a very mutilated state. The proprietor was content with the profits he had already derived from it, and the jakouts of the neighborhood tore off the flesh with which they fed their dogs. Ferocious animals, white bears of the north pole, gluttons, wolves, and foxes preyed upon it also, and their burrows were seen in the neighborhood. The skeleton, almost completely unfleshed, was entire, with the exception of one of the forefeet. The spindyle from the head to the os coccygis, a shoulder blade, the pelvis, and the remains of the three extremities were still tightly attached by the ligaments of the joints and by strips of skin on the exterior side of the carcass. The head was covered with a dry skin; one of the ears, well preserved, was furnished with a tuft of bristles. The eyes were also preserved, and the ball of the left eye could be distinguished. The tip of the under lip had been eaten away, and the upper part being destroyed exhibited the teeth. The brain was still in the cranium, but it appeared dry. The parts least damaged were a forefoot and a hind one covered with skin and having the sole attached. See an account of a Journey to the Frozen Seas, and the discovery of the remains of a mammoth, by Michael Adams, of St. Petersburgh, in the 29th vol. of Tillock's Philosophical Magazine, and Cuvier's Essay on the Theory of Earth, transl. by Jameson. The mammoth of New-York, although bearing some general resemblance to the elephant, differs from it in the general figure; in the tusks, formation of the head, prominence and pointedness of the back over the shoulders, its great descent thence from the hips, together with the comparative smallness of the body; there are proofs of greater activity also in the structure of the thigh-bones and the formation of the ribs, which are peculiar and indicative of greater strength; it also differs in the magnitude of the spines of the back; the proportionate length of the processes from the spine of the scapula; the thickness and strength of all the bones, particularly of the limbs and the teeth, which are of the carnivorous kind; its under jaw, which is distinctly angular, instead of being semi-circular, as in the elephant, besides several other striking distinctions. There can be little doubt but that it is at least specifically distinct from the elephant Philosophical Magazine, Peale's account, vol. 14.
From the size of the head, the thickness and solidity of the teeth, and the enormous magnitude of the tusks, we can at once perceive that the neck of the animal must of necessity have been short, in order to sustain so great a weight. These circumstances, considered in connection with the length of the limbs presently to be described, clearly indicates that the Mastodon, like the Elephant, had a long and flexible trunk for the purpose of conveying its aliment to the mouth; the shortness of the neck and the projection and curvature of the tusks, would equally have prevented the approach of the mouth to the ground. Godman's Nat. Hist.
The examination of the Asiatic Mammoth has also settled the question as to its identity with the American. They are considered as specifically if not generically different. Blumenbach has termed the Asiatic mammoth, elephas primaevus or primogenus, and the American mammoth the elephas Americanus. Cuvier calls it the mastodontus, which name has been adopted by Dr. Barton. In the memoirs of the National Institute, Cuvier describes the former, elephas mammonteus, maxilla obtusiore, lamellis molarium tenuous rectis, and the latter he characterizes as follows: Elephas Americanus, molaribus multi-cuspidibus, lamellis post detritionem quadrilobatis. In his opinion, neither of them are the same as the existing elephant, and he considers them as extinct. Sciences Phys. et Mat. II.
Dr. Barton, of Philadelphia, is of opinion that the animal described by Adams, although different from the Ohio animal, has a great and striking affinity to it. He believes there is a much greater affinity between the Asiatic mammoth and the existing Asiatic elephant, than between either of them and the Ohio or American mammoth; yet there are several other characters in which the resemblance is much closer between the Ohio animal and the Asiatic mammoth, than between the latter and the Asiatic elephant, and that one of these characters consists in the great resemblance of the incisores, tusks or horns. Dr. Barton is further of opinion that the Asiatic mammoth has been discovered in different parts of the United States, and that a branch of the Susquehannah receives its name of Chemung from the incisores of one of these animals. Port Folio, vol. 4, Barton's letter to Jefferson.
Governor Pownall, in a paper published in the Philosophical Magazine, vol. 14, after having viewed the skeleton of the New-York mammoth, exhibited by Mr. Peale in London, is of opinion that it was a marine animal from the following circumstances:
1. Its being carnivorous, and its enormous bulk would therefore require a supply of animal food from the earth which it could not get, and which could only be found in the abundance of the waters.
2. He thinks there are parts in the debris of the skull which have some comparative resemblance to the whale as to the purpose of breathing under water; that the width of the jaws is similar to that of fish; and that the ribs more similar to those of fish than to those of terrestrial animals, are, by their construction and position, ordained to resist a snore forcible external compression than the atmosphere creates.
3. That the neck is so short that the animal could not reach the ground with its mouth, the line from the withers to the end of the under jaw being about one third of the line from the withers to the ground.
Mr. Peale says that there are many reasons to suppose that he was of an amphibious nature, and is decidedly of opinion that he lived entirely on flesh or fish.
While some may be willing to concur with Mr. Peale as to its amphibious nature, few will agree with Pownall in its being an aquatic animal. The shortness of its neck might have been supplied by a trunk. The points, wherein it resembles in its formation certain fish, are only indicative of amazing strength; and there is no strong objection to believe that it was also gramnivorous, and drew its supplies from the vegetable as well as the animal kingdom.
Upon the whole, we may, with considerable con-Science, come to the following conclusions:
1. That the Asiatic and African living elephants and Siberian mammoth are specifically distinct.
2. That the New-York, Ohio or American mammoth is specifically if not generally different from them.
3. That it was carnivorous, and lived upon the land.
4. That it may have also been gramnivorous, or omnivorous and amphibious.
5. And lastly, that it is extinct.
Extract from a letter of Silvanus Miller to De Witt Clinton:
"The first discovery of these fossils was made in the town of Montgomery, in the county of Orange, by Rev. Mr. Annin. The place of discovery was in a sunken and miry meadow, in digging a ditch to carry off the excess of water. Several of the harder parts or bones of the mammoth skeleton were discovered; these were the ribs, two teeth (grinders) and parts of the thigh bone; the teeth and ribs were in a very sound state, but the others were considerably decayed, and an exposure to the air had such an effect upon them as to render their preservation useless. Subsequent to that time several scattered remains of skeletons of the same animal have been discovered; but from carelessness or other causes these have been lost. The speculations of persons who saw these phenomena were various, and in some instances ridiculous, affording no rational improvement to the naturalist. The advancement of agriculture, which began to show itself' in the counties of Orange and Ulster at this period, while it enriched the husbandman and beautified the country, was the cause of other discoveries of this nature, which drew the subject More the public, attracted the immediate attention of literary men, and led to the exertions of the enterprising Mr. Peale, of Philadelphia, who procured two skeletons of these nondescript animals nearly entire. By the ingenuity and enterprise of this gentleman these hidden treasures of natural history were brought to public view, to astonish and delight the sons of science. At the time of this discovery it was my lot to be in the vicinity, and to contribute my exertions in taking them from their hidden depositories. The parts of these fossils heretofore discovered had excited an interest far short of their importance. The numbers being now increased, and a spirit of inquiry being set on foot, excited a high degree of public interest. The big bones (as they were called) were exposed for show, and persons from various motives in great numbers flocked to behold this hitherto hidden wonder.
The nature and formation of this mammoth country, as well as the particular places where those animals were found, may possibly be interesting, and to this object I shall devote a few general remarks. The only fossils of this skeleton which have been discovered, have been found in wet and miry lands in the towns of Montgomery and Shawangunk. The former in Orange and the latter in Ulster county, in this state, distance about 60 miles from this city; and 6 to 12 miles from Newburgh on the Hudson river. In a western direction from the Hudson river for some 5 or 6 miles, the ground rises gradually but perceptibly until you come to the confines of Coldenbam; the waters running easterly until you arrive here, now take the contrary direction, and turning westerly are disembogued into a considerable stream, known by the name of the Wallkill and sometimes the Paltz river. On the highlands at Coldenham you perceive a range of high mountains, known by the name of "Shawangunk mountains," from whence the waters run easterly, and falling into the Wallkill are carried into the Hudson river at the strand near Kingston, in Ulster county, about 112 piles distant from New-York. These mountains on the west, and a ridge of highlands on the east, form a natural valley of very considerable extent, varying in breadth from 35 in the southern to the northern extremity of 3 miles or thereabout. The formation and nature of this country has nothing to characterize it from other parts of our state in the middle district. The woods and forest trees, the grasses and productions of every kind, are those which are indigenous to various parts of the state and to all adjacent counties. The general formation of this country is smooth, marked by some hills of secondary altitude, is susceptible of yielding every kind of produce cultivated in northern climates. The immense quantities of what is generally termed Goshen butter, are made in this valley and on the lands between it and the Hudson river, extending from New Cornwall, situate at the northern entrance into the Highlands to the point of land called the pause Kaumer, in the town of Marlborough. In all this district of country the pasturage is luxuriant and excellent, and affords a greedy repast for black cattle, sheep, &c.
It will be seen from this succinct account of the country, that whether the mammoth delighted in the fertile plain, in the low and sunken meadow or swamp, or in the lofty and craggy mountains, or in all of them, the variety of the soil and formation of the country, afford a gratification to all his natural inclinations and propensities. I do not know, however, that the marl discovered in abundance in Ulster and Orange counties has been found in their neighborhood; and it is proper to remark, that in these sunken receptacles of vegetable and testaceous solutions, have uniformly been found the bones of the mammoth, Perhaps it may be said that in this marl, by its alkaline qualities, have these fossils alone been preserved from dissolution and decay. The formation of these has evidently been the work of ages. In many places the body of this manure is thirty feet in depth, over which grass and vegetable plants, common to such grounds, grew in abundance, interspersed with trees of different kinds.
Within a circle, the radius of which does not exceed six miles, there are several hundred acres of marl. A very small proportion of this has been explored or dug to the bottom, where the fossil bones have uniformly been discovered. By the force of their own weight they have naturally sunk through the soft marl and found rest many feet below on solid and harder ground and yet within the periphery of this circle nine skeletons of these prodigious animals have been discovered. It may certainly be safely computed that not one hundredth part has been explored to the bottom. If then so many have been found in so small a proportion of this mammoth ground, and admitting that there has been great good fortune in falling upon their place of rest, does it not afford a most reasonable hypothesis to say that there are vast numbers of these natural curiosities deposited here for future discoveries, and that at some period our country (in this district) was fully inhabited by this stupendous animal; that in numbers they equalled the other beasts of the forest, such as the bear, the wolf, the panther, &c., in the proportions which larger animals bear to the smaller in the order of nature. That they were carnivorous as well as gramnivorous is pretty well authenticated by the formation of their grinders. Indeed, my worthy and learned friend, Dr. James G. Graham, who examined the fossils, went still further; for the formation of the bones near and belonging to the foot, warranted him, as a professional man, in the belief that this animal had claws.
Dr. Mitchell appears to have struck upon a philosophical explanation, which is at once bold, and will explain the phenomena. He places these curiosities amongst elephantine relics, occasioned by the change of the axis of the globe at some very remote period. By this hypothesis may be explained the existence of these bones and bodies of animals belonging to low and warm latitudes, being found in cold and frozen climates of the earth. That gentleman supposes the ancient equator to have extended in the northern hemisphere from the bay of Bengal, near where the mouths of the Ganges are, through Thibet, Tartary and Siberia to the present North Pole, and thence along in North America, through the tracts west of Hudson's Bay and Lake Superior to the sources of the Mississippi, and thence down to the Gulf of Mexico, near its places of disemboguement, and so onward across New Spain to the South Sea. That such was probably the old equatorial line. In corroboration of this gentleman's opinion he truly alleges, that under the ancient equator have been found the remains of animals peculiar to warm climates. The bones of the elephant and the rhinoceros are discovered almost all the way where he would designate the ancient equator; that in colder latitudes the frozen bodies themselves, on the banks of the Genesee and the Lena, and in masses of ice lying upon the shores of the Asiatic continent and thereabouts, have attracted the attention of the naturalist; that in America the valley of the Mississippi was the place of the former equator, in which direction the fossil skeletons are most frequent, and that the creatures to whom they belong may be supposed to have perished at the grand catastrophe in their proper and natural climates; that the migration of the human race and the passage of animals from Asia to America, find a solution by this theory of easy and rational comprehension.
It is important to add, that with the discoveries of these skeletons have been found considerable locks and tufts of hair; having been buried a great length of time in a calcareous substance, it retained its natural appearance, and was brought to light in a tolerable state of perfection; the length was from one and a half to two inches and a half, of a dunnish brown color. In one instance the hair was much longer, measuring from four to seven inches in length, of the same color, and resembling in appearance the shorter, and was conjectured to have been the mane of the mammoth. 'Whether a discoloration had not taken place from its native appearance must remain a matter of conjecture. ln every instance an exposure to air caused it to moulder away into a kind of impalpable dust. This fact would seem to render it certain that the animal, the relics of whose body were here found, appertained to a race totally different from any elephants now known to naturalists."
To bring down our brief on Behemoth to the present moment, we give a paragraph which appeared in a New-York paper (The Evening Star) of February 8th:
"The Bones of the Mastodon at Auction. It would appear that the bones of the head of the American Mastodon, which were, until lately, a desideratum that all zoologists anxiously awaited the discovery of, have been permitted by our learned societies to leave this country. We have now the humiliating consolation to know that these most rare and valuable relics of this antediluvian monster, have been hawked about the streets of London, until finally knocked down dog-cheap under the hammer of a cockney auctioneer. So much for the love, the ardor of our scientific association for the promotion of the study of natural history! It is discreditable that such precious treasures should have been thus abandoned. We said so at the time; but it seems there was not spirit enough to keep the bones of our own proud king of the forest among us. It is an enigma we cannot solve, how the idiot of an owner never thought to go to Paris with his osteological speculation. There they are interested in what relates to our animals, fossils, &c.; and Cuvier, if alive, would have been in ecstacies to have seen the head of that Mastodon which he christened with this name. The fine cranium with the upper jaw and teeth brought only 100 francs. The head perfect, 44 inches long and 28 wide brought, however, 3,822 francs, i. e., near $750, which was not a tenth part of its value; and that it is probably the only one that has ever been discovered or ever probably may be. We believe it came from Kentucky. Almost always the head is found wanting, though the teeth and leg bones are remarkably sound. The giant quadruped that bounded over the prairies little dreamed of the destiny that awaited him."
Without pretending to adopt the opinions or conjectures that follow, I quote them as expressing the views of an eminent man, and as embodying a plausible explanation of the settlement of this country. They are quoted from "Priest's Antiquities:"
"The following is from the pen of the late William Wirt, of Virginia, on the subject of the ancient inhabitants of this country. Mr. Flint and other travellers and sojourners in the West, state that the impress of the leaves of the bread fruit tree, and the bamboo, have frequently been found in peat-bed and fossil coal formations in the neighborhood of the Ohio. Pebbles of disruption, vast masses of lead ore far from the mine, stratified rocks, earth and sand, and specimens of organic animal and vegetable remains, belonging to a tropical climate, clearly indicate some important and extensive changes occasioned by fire or water in the whole great valley of the Mississippi. Then the regular walls, the bricks, the medals, the implements of iron and copper, buried in a soil which must have been undisturbed fur ages, with the alphabetic characters written on the cliffs, plainly show that other races of men have existed and passed away. And what a world must that have been, when the mammoth and the megalonyx trod the plains, and monstrous lizards, whose bones are now rescued from the soil, and which must have been at least eighty feet in length, reared their heads from the rivers and the lakes!
The mighty remains of the past, to which we have alluded, indicate the existence of three distinct races of men, previous to the arrival of the white settlers. The monuments of the first or primitive race, are regular stone walls, well stoned up, brick hearths, found in digging the Louisville canal, medals of copper, and silver swords, and other implements of iron. Mr. Flint assures us that he has seen these strange ancient swords. He has also examined a small iron shoe, like a horse shoe, encrusted with the rust of ages, and found far below the soil, and the copper axe weighing about two pounds, singularly tempered and of peculiar construction. These relics, he thinks, belonged to a race of civilized men, who must have disappeared many centuries ago. To this race he attributes the hieroglyphic character found on the limestone bluffs; the remains of cities and fortifications of Florida; the regular banks of ancient live oaks near them, and the bricks found at Louisville, nineteen feet below the surface, in regular hearths, with the coals of the last domestic fire upon them. These bricks were hard and regular, and longer in proportion to their width than those of the present day.
To the second race of beings are attributed the vast mounds of earth, found throughout the whole western region, from Lake Erie and west Pennsylvania to Florida and the Rocky Mountains. Some of them contain skeletons of human beings, and display immense labor. Many of them are regular mathematical figures parallelograms and sections of circles, showing the remains of gateways and subterranean passages. Some of them are eighty feet high, and have trees grown on them apparently of the age of five hundred years. They are generally of a soil differing from that which surrounds them, and they are most common in situations where it since has been found convenient to build towns and cities. One of these mounds was levelled in the centre of Chilicothe, and cart loads of human bones removed from it. Another may be seen in Cincinnati, in which a thin circular piece of gold, alloyed with copper, was found last year. Another in St. Louis, called the falling garden, is pointed out to strangers as a great curiosity. Many fragments of earthenware, some of curious workmanship, have been dug throughout this vast region. Some represented drinking vessels, some human heads, and some idols. They all appear to be moulded by the hand and hardened in the sun. These mounds and earthen implements indicate a race inferior to the first, which was acquainted with the use of iron.
The third race are the Indians, now existing in the western territories. In the profound silence and solitude of these western regions, and above the bones of a buried world, how must a philosophic traveller meditate upon the transitory state of human existence, when the only traces of the beings of two races of men are these strange memorials! On this very spot, generation after generation has stood, has lived, has warred, grown old, and passed away and not only their names, but their nation, their language, has perished, and utter oblivion has closed ever their once populous abodes! We call this country the New World. It is old! Age after age, and one physical revolution after another, has passed over it, but who shall tell its history?"