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Historical encyclopedia of Illinois online

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especially in Ohio ; and the fact that they appear
to belong to the defensive class, has led to the
conclusion that this region was occupied by a race
practically homogeneous, and that these works
were designed to prevent the encroachment of
hostile races from beyond the AUeghenies. Illi-
nois being in the center of the valley, compara-
tively few of these defensive works are found
here, those of this character which do exist being
referred to a different era and race. (See Forti-
fications, Prehistoric.) While tliese works are
niunerous in some portions of Illinois, their form
and structure give evidence that they were
erected by a peaceful people, however bloody
may have been some of the rites performed on
those designed for a religious purpose. Their
numbers also imply a dense population. This is
especially true of that portion of the American
Bottom opposite the city of St. Louis, which is
the seat of the most remarkable group of earth
works of this character on the continent. The
central, or principal structure of this group, is
known, locally, as the great "Cahokia Mound,"
being situated near the creek of that name which
empties into the Mississippi just below the city
of East St. Louis. It is also called "Monks'
Mound," from the fact that it was occupied early
in the present century by a community of Monks
of La Trappe. a portion of whom succumbed to
the malarial influences of the climate, while the
survivors returned to the original seat of their
order. This mound, from its form and com-
manding size, has been supposed to belong to the
class called "temple mounds," and has been de-
scribed as "the monarch of all similar structm-es"'
and the "best representative of its class in North
America." The late William McAdams, of
Alton, who surveyed this group some years since,
in his "Records of Ancient Races," gives the fol-
lowing description of this principal structure :

"In the center of a great mass of mounds and
earth- works there stands a mighty pyramid
whose base covers nearly sixteen acres of ground.

It is not exactly square, being a parallelogram a
little longer north and south tlian east and west.
Some thirty feet above the base, on the south side,
is an apron or terrace, on which now grows an
orchard of considerable size. This terrace is
approached from the plain by a graded roadway.
Thirty feet above this terrace, and on the west
side, is another much smaller, on which are now
gro\ving some forest trees. The top, which con-
tains an acre and a half, is divided into two
nearly equal parts, tlie northern part being four
or five feet the higher. ... On the north,
east and south, the structure still retains its
straight side, that probably has changed but little
since the settlement of the country by white
men, but remains in appearance to-day the same
as centuries ago. The west side of the pj'ramid,
however, has its base somewhat serrated and
seamed by ravines, evidently made by rainstorms
and the elements. From the second terrace a
well, eighty feet in depth, penetrates the base of
the structure, which is plainly seen to be almost
wholly composed of the black, sticky soil of the
surrounding plain. It is not an oval or conical
mound or hill, but a pyramid with straight
sides." The approximate height of this mound
is ninety feet. Wlien first seen by white men,
this w as surmounted by a small conical mound
some ten feet in height, from which human
remains and various relics were taken while
being leveled for the site of a house. Messrs.
Squier and Davis, in their report on "Ancient
Monuments of the Mississippi Valley," published
by the Smithsonian Institute (1848), estimate the
contents of the structure at 20,000,000 cubic feet.
A Mr. Breckenridge, who visited tliese mounds
in 1811 and published a descrijrtiun of them, esti-
mates that the construction of this principal
mound must have required the work of thousands
of laborers and years of time. The upper terrace,
at the time of his visit, was occupied by the
Trappists as a kitchen garden, and the top of the
structure was sown in wheat. He also found
numerous fragments of flint and earthern ves-
sels, and concludes that "a populous city once
existed here, similar to those of Mexico described
by the first conquerors. The mounds were sites
of temples or monuments to great men." Accord-
ing to Mr. McAdams, there are seventy-two
mounds of considerable size within two miles of
the main structure, the group extending to the
mouth of the Cahokia and embracing over one
hundred in all. Most of these are square, rang-
ing from twenty to fifty feet in height, a few are
oval and one or two conical. Scattered among



the mounds are also a number of small lakes,
evidently of artificial origin. From the fact
that there were a number of conspicuous
mounds on the Missouri side of the river,
on the present site of the city of St. Louis
and its environs, it is believed that they all
belonged to the same system and had a common
purpose; the Cahokia Mound, from its superior
size, being the center of the group— and probably
used for sacrificial purposes. The whole number
of these structures in the American Bottom,
whose outlines were still visible a few years ago,
was estimated by Dr. J. W. Foster at nearly two
hundred, and the presence of so large a number
in close proximity, has been accepted as evidence
of a large population in the immediate vicinity.
Mr. McAdams reports the finding of numerous
specimens of pottery and artificial ornaments and
implements in the Cahokia mounds and in caves
and mounds between Alton and the mouth of the
Illinois River, as well as on the latter some
twenty-five miles from its mouth. Among the
relics found in the Illinois River mounds was a
burial vase, and Mr. McAdams says that, in
thirty years, he has unearthed more than a
thousand of these, many of which closely
re.semble those found in the mounds of Europe.
Dr. Foster also makes mention of an ancient
cemetery near Chester, in which "each grave,
when explored, is found to contain a cist enclos-
ing a skeleton, for the most part far gone in
decay. These cists are built up and covered with
slabs of limestone, which here abound. "" — Another
noteworthj' group of mounds — though far inferior
to the Cahokia group — exists near Hutsonville in
Crawford County. As described in the State
Geological Survey, this group consists of fifty-
five elevations, irregularly dispersed over an area
of 1,000 by 1,400 to 1,500 feet, and varying from
fourteen to fifty feet in diameter, the larger ones
having a height of five to eight feet. From their
form and arrangement these are believed to have
been mounds of habitation. In the southern por-
tion of this group are four mounds of peculiar
construction and larger size, each surrounded
by a low ridge or earthwork, with openings facing
towards each other, indicating that they were
defense-works. The location of this group — a
few miles from a prehistoric fortification at
Merom, on the Indiana side of the Wabash, to
which the name of "Fort Azatlan" has been
given — induces the belief that the two groups,
like those in the American Bottom and at St.
I^ouis, were parts of the same system. — Professor
Engelman, in the part of the State Geological

Survey devoted to Massac Coimty, alludes to a
remarkable group of earthworks in the Black
Bend of the Ohio, as an "extensive" system of
"fortifications and mounds which probably
belong to the same class as those in the Missis-
sippi Bottom opposite St. Louis and at other
points farther up the Ohio." In the report of
Government survey by Dan W. Beckwith, in 1834,
mention is made of a very large mound on the
Kankakee River, near the mouth of Rock Creek,
now a part of Kankakee Count)'. This had a
base diameter of about 100 feet, with a height of
twenty feet, and contained the remains of a
large number of Indians killed in a celebrated
battle, in which the Illinois and Chippewas, and
the Delawares and Shawnees took part. Near
by were two other mounds, said to contain the
remains of the chiefs of the two parties. In this
case, mounds of prehistoric origin had probably
been utilized as burial places by the aborigines at
a comparatively recent period. Related to the
Kankakee mounds, in location if not in period of
construction, is a group of nineteen in number on
the site of the present city of Morris, in Grundy
County. Within a circuit of three miles of
Ottawa it has been estimated that there were
3,000 mounds — though many of these are believed
to have been of Indian origin. Indeed, the whole
Illinois Valley is full of these silent monuments
of a prehistoric age, but they are not generally of
the conspicuous character of those found in the
vicinitj' of St. Louis and attributed to the Mound
Builders. — A very large and numerous group of monuments exists along the bluffs of the
Mississippi River, in the western part of Rock
Island and Mercer Counties, chiehy between
Drury's Landing and New Boston. Mr. J. E.
Stevenson, in "The American Antiquarian," a
few years ago, estimated that there were 2,500 of
these within a circuit of fifty miles, located in
groups of two or three to 100, varying in diameter
from fifteen to 150 feet, with an elevation of two
to fifteen feet. There are also numerous burial
and sacrificial mounds in the vicinity of Chilli-
cothe, on the Illinois River, in the northeastern
part of Peoria County. — There are but few speci-
mens of the animal or effigy mounds, of which so
man)' exist in Wisconsin, to be foHnd in Illinois;
and the fact that these are found chiefly on Rock
River, leaves no doubt of a common origin with
the Wisconsin groups. The most remarkable of
these is the celebrated "Turtle Mound," within
the present limits of the city of Rockf ord — though
some regard it as having more resemblance to an
alligator. This figure, which is maintained in a



fjood State of pieservation by the citizens, has an
extreme length of about 150 feet, by fifty in
width at the front legs and thirty-nine at the
liind legs, and an elevation equal to the height
of a man. There are some smaller mounds in
the vicinity, and some bird effigies on Rock River
some six miles below Rockford. There is also an
animal efSgy near the village of Hanover, in Jo
Daviess County, with a considerable group of
round mounds and embankments in the immedi-
ate vicinity, besides a smaller effigy of a similar
character on the north side of the Pecatonica in
Stephenson County, some ten miles east of Free-
port. The Rock River region seems to have been
a favorite field for the operations of the mound-
builders, as shown by the number and varietj- of
these structures, extending from Sterling, in
Whiteside County, to the Wisconsin State line. A
large number of these were to be found in the
vicinity of the Kishwaukee River in the south-
eastern part of Winnebago County. The famous
prehistoric fortification on Rock River, just
beyond the Wisconsin boundary — which seems to
have been a sort of counterpart of the ancient
Fort Azatlan on the Indiana side of the Wabash
— appears to have had a close relation to the
works of the mound-builders on the same stream
in Illinois.

MOUXD CITY, the county-seat of Pulaski
Countj-, on the Ohio River, seven miles north of
Cairo. The Cleveland. Cincinnati. Chicago & St.
Louis Railroad passes through the town. The
chief indu.stries are lumbering and ship-building,
although manufacturing is carried on to some
extent. One of the United States National Ceme-
teries is located here. The town has a bank and
two weekly papers. Population (1880), 2,222;
(1890), 2, .5.50.

MOUNT CARMEL, a city and the county-seat
of Wabash County, is the point of junction for
two lines of railway. 132 miles northeast of Cairo,
and 24 miles southwest of Vincennes, Ind. ; situ-
ated on the Wabash River, which supplies good
water-power for saw mills, flouring mills, etc. It
is on the line of the Cleveland. Cincinnati. Chi-
cago & St. Louis Railroad. The town has two
weekly newspapers. Agriculture and lumbering
are the principal pursuits of the people of the
surrounding district. Population (1880), 2.047;
(1890), 3,376.

MOrXT CARROLL, the county -seat of Carroll
■Coimty. an incorporated city, founded in 1843;
is 128 miles southwest of Chicago, on the Chi-
cago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Fanning,
stock-raising and mining are the principal indus-

tries. It has five churches, excellent schools,
good libraries, one weekly and two semi-weekly
newspapers. Population (1890), 1,836.

ladies' seminary, located at Jlount Carroll, Carroll
County; incorporated in 1802; had a faculty of
thirteen members in 1896, with 126 pupils, prop-
erty valued at §100,000, and a library of 5,000

MOUNT MORRIS, a town in Ogle County, situ-
ated on the Chicago & Iowa Riiilroad, 108 miles
west by north from Chicago, and 24 miles south-
west of Rockford. It is noted as the seat of the
Rock River Seminary and Collegiate Institute, a
flourishing school with handsome stone buildings.
The town has three churches and three weekly
newspapers. Population (18801, 855; (1890), 895.

MOUNT OLIVE, a village of Macoupin County,
on the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis and the
Wabash Railways, 68 miles southwest of Decatur;
in a rich agricultural and coal-mining region.
Population (1880), 709; (1890), 1,986.

MOUNT PULASKI, a village and railroad junc-
tion in Logan County, 21 miles nortliwest of
Decatur and 24 miles northeast of Springfield.
Agriculture, coal-mining and stock-raising are
leading industries. It is also an important ship-
ping point for grain, and contains several
elevators and flouring mills. Population (1880),
1,125; (1890), 1,3.57.

MOUNT STERLING, a town, the county-seat
of Brown County, midway between Quincy and
Jacksonville, on the Wabash Railway. It is sur-
rounded by a rich farming country, and has
extensive deposits of clay and coal. It contains
six churches and three schools (one large public,
and two parochial). The town is lighted by
electricity and has public water- works. Wagons,
brick, tile and earthenware are manufactured
here, and three weekly newspapers published.
Population (1880), 1,445; (1890), 1,6.55; (1898)
estimated. 2.400.

MOUNT VERNON, a city and county-seat of
Jefferson County, is situated on the St. Louis

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 82 of 207)