Charles Peabody.

The exploration of Jacobs cavern, McDonald county, Missouri online

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Mcdonald county, Missouri




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3 1924 101 546 384



?^epartment of arci^aeologt



Mcdonald county, Missouri




Efje NorSnooi ^ress

The original of tiiis book is in
tine Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.


The Department of Archaeology of Phillips Academy,
Andover, Massachusetts, through the courtesy of the news-
papers ^ of the United States, published, in 1902, a circular

The purpose was to direct the attention of those especially
who reside in the remoter districts to the importance of finding,
preserving, and studying specimens of archaeological value.

The letter was read by Mr. E. H. Jacobs, an archaeologist
of Bentonville, Arkansas, whose kindness prompted him to
impart to the Department his knowledge of the existence, near
Bentonville, of caves, caverns, and rock-shelters affording
traces of former human habitation.

He also at the time sent a gift of specimens to the Depart-
ment from his own collection, and showed an eager interest
and a desire to assist in furthering the plans of the Department
for excavation. Accordingly, exploration was decided upon,
and during April and May, 1903, cursory examinations of
several caves and shelters and a more thorough examination
of Jacobs Cavern were accomplished.

The Curator of the Department was in this field from
April 19 to May 23 ; the Honorary Director from May 12 to
May 23 ; after their departure the work was carried on under
the direction of Mr. Jacobs. All operations ceased on
June 1, 1903.

It is with great cordiality that the acknowledgments of the
Director and the Curator are paid to Mr. Jacobs for his con-
tinued and cheerful assistance in every branch of the work ;

1 Among others of the Sun of Bentonville, Arkansas,


to Mr. Samuel Prater and his family for their hospitality; to
Mr. J. H. Foster, the owner of the land, for his free permis-
sion to excavate ; to Mr. J. L. B. Taylor for his unceasing
vigilance at the cavern ; to Mr. W. N. Smith for his accurate
photographic work and valuable advice in difficult mechanical
situations, and to all the men who worked with the explorers
for their good nature and perseverance.

Particularly are thanks due to Professor Charles N. Gould
of the University of Oklahoma for the gift of his valuable
time in spending a week at the Cavern and in preparing a
report on its geological features.

The preparation of the present Bulletin has been made easier
by the information furnished by Professor W. J. McGee of the
Smithsonian Institution of Washington and by the cooperation
of Professor Frederick W. Putnam of Harvard University and
of Dr. H. C. Hovey of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

It is also a pleasure to speak of the facilities offered by the
Peabody Museum and by the Library of the Department of
Geology of Harvard University, which have been freely made
use of.

The metric system is used throughout the report on Jacobs

Andover, Massachusetts,
January 28, 1904.


In order to determine the importance relative to archaeology
of the exploration of Jacobs Cavern, notice should be taken of
work done elsewhere of a similar nature.

In Great Britain true palaeolithic man is proved to have
existed in many caves.

As an illustration, that one called Robin Hood's Cave^ may
be cited ; its situation is near the common boundary of Derby-
shire and Nottinghamshire.

A vertical section of the cave is here given, for purposes of
demonstration and comparison :

Vertical Section from Roof to Flock







Stalactite (sic) unit-

ing roof to floor .
Dark layer of earth

5" to 6"


_ ^^ r Mediaeval
Pottery J. „

[ Roman

f Bones and implements


Stalagmitic breccia


Imported flint flakes,

(very hard) . .

0" to .36"


points, etc.; scrapers
Bones broken by man


Cave earth . . .

21" to 52" .


Flint and quartzite imple-

f Bones of lion, wild boar,


Red, clayey sand .

24" to 48" ■


J etc., marked by hyenas
Quartzite hammers and


Light-colored sand,

I splinters

with limestone
blocks ....


/ No traces of man or wild
I animals


Rocky floor . . .

1 Boyd-Dawkius, Early Man in Britain, p. 178.


Here traces of man's occupancy were found in strata 5' to
9' in aggregate depth. Remains of palaeolithic man have also
been found in Kent's Hole, Devonshire,^ Wookey Hole, Somer-
setshire,^ in the cave of Pont Newydd, St. Asaph, North Wales,^
and elsewhere.

In France an illustration is furnished by the Grotte de I'Eglise,
Dordogne,^ whose section follows :

Section from Top to Bottom



COKTENTS; Desckiption


Sheet of stalagmite . .


Bones of reindeer, horse, and ox
Bone awls and points
. Flint flakes, saws, and scrapers


Layer of black earth . .

I "Moustierian," and older


Red earth

j Remains of reindeer, cave bear, and horse
[ Chipped implements


Yellow sand ...

r Remains of bear and bison

1 " Choppers " and flakes of " jasper "

Remains of cave man have been found in Belgium in the
valleys of the Meuse and the Lesse, in Switzerland on the
Saleve and near Schaffhausen, and on the northern continent
as far south as Styria.^

Caves in Austria- Hungary are described by L. Karl Moser."
A vertical section of one from top to bottom follows : ''

' Boyd-Dawkins, Early Man in Britain, p. 194.

2 Ibid. p. 192.

8 Ihid. p. 198.

* Mortillet, Congres. Int. d'Anthrop. et d'Archeol. Trehist., Brussels, 1872.

5 Boyd-Dawkins, Early Man in Britain, p. 204.

^ Der Karst imd seine Ilolile, Triest, 1899.

' Doline und Hohle Vtascajama.







15 cm.




30 cm.




15 cm.


J Charcoal

I Implements {1°^"^^^



40 cm.
40 cm.

Red-brown gravel

Red earth and limestone

Flint chips
Few implements




Stalagmites, etc.

So-called "bone-caves" are found in Moravia. ^

Cliff-dwellings in France, unknown till recently, have been
noted in the Departments of Aveyron and Ardeche and near
the Jura Mountains, — all of the neolithic period ; others of
later date are also known. ^

In Crete terra-cotta figurines have been taken from the stal-
agmitic formation in the Dictaean Cave ; it does not appear,
however, that they have been embedded in the material. ^

In America reports are at hand from Honduras and Yuca-
tan. G. B. Gordon* mentions in "Cave 3, Chamber 2" the
remains of fire and burnt bones, under a layer of stalagmite
about six inches in thickness. E. H. Thompson,^ in his re-
searches in Yucatan, found nothing of palaeolithic period, a
conclusion also accepted for that country by H. C. Mercer.^

Caves in Peru containing human remains are reported,'^ and
the " burial caverns " of Alaska have been visited by Dall.^

1 R. Trampler, MiUheil. d. Prdhist. (Jomm. dex K. Akad. der Wissenschaften,
Vienna, B. 1. 3. 189.3.

2 E.-A. Martel, La Speleologie, Paris, 1900, p. 115.
s R. B. Richardson, The Nation, June 18, 1903.

* Caverns of Oopan, Mems. Peahody Museum, Vol. I, No. 5, Cambridge, 1898,
pp. 7 (143) and 11 (147).

5 Cave ofLoltun, Mems. Peabody Museum, Vol. I, No. 2, 1897, p. 22.

« " Cave-hunting in Yucatan," Mass. Inst. Tech. Quarterly, December, 1897,
Vol. X, No. 4, pp. 370 and 355.

' Boston Herald, January 24, 1904.


In tlie United States proper widespread efforts have been
made, and are at present making, in cave exploration.

H. C. Mercer,! in his many investigations, has found nothing
truly palaeolithic. O. C. Farrington^ has examined caves in
Indiana, and made observations on the rate of growth of sta-
lagmites. He has visited Wyandotte Cave, Crawford County ;
Marengo Cave, Crawford County; Shiloh Cave, Lawrence
County; Cran's Cave, Monroe County. J. R. Nissley^ has
described a cave in Hancock County, Ohio.

Stalagmitic deposits have been found in Luray Cave, Virginia,
and F. W. Putnam* has reported on the Mammoth Cave, Ken-
tucky. Stalagmitic deposits are also said to exist near Cavetown,
Washington County, Maryland, and in southern California.

The article above mentioned, in the Boston Herald,^ inspired
by W. H. Holmes, contains a resume of the previous season's
work in American caves. Early human occupation is sug-
gested as possible in the caves of Grand Gulch, Utah ; mention
is made as well of explorations under the auspices of the
Smithsonian Institution, in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ala-
bama, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the work mentioned, the University of Cali-
fornia is at present conducting cave examinations in that state,
a work of the utmost detail, under the direction of Professor
Frederick W. Putnam.

Completing the list of published work, the following titles
represent what has already been published on Jacobs Cavern :

C. N. Gould : Science, July 31, 1903, pp. 151 S.

E. H. Jacobs : Archaeological Edition of Benton County Sun, June 11, 1903.
E. H. Jacobs: Quoted in American Antiquarian, September-October, 1903,
Vol. XXV, No. .5, pp. 312 ff.

1 Cave Explorations, Eastern United States, Univ. of Penn. Dept. of Amer.
and Prehist. Archaeplogy, 1894. Indian House and Durham Gave, Univ. of
Penn., as above. Vol. VI, 1897, pp. 147 and 173.

2 Observations on Indian Caves, Field Col. Mus. Public. No. 53, Geol. Series,
Vol. 1, No. 8, Chicago, February, 1901.

" Americaji Antiquarian, 1888, Vol. 1, p. 40.

'' Peabody Museum Ann. Rep. No. 8. ^ January 24, 1904.


C. Peabody: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. V, No. 3, July-
September, 1903, pp. 579-580.

C. Peabody: Abstract of paper read at meeting of Archaeological Insti-
tute of America, Cleveland, Ohio, December, 1903 ; in
American Journal of Archaeology, 2d Series, Vol. VIII,
1904, No. 1, p. 81.

It may be said here that work more detailed and complete
has been accomplished in the caves of Europe than in those
of America, with the result of proving for the former a very
much earlier occupation by man than for the latter. In one
respect the continents agree, — in the widespread and not
unnatural use of cliff excavations, caves, caverns, and rock-
shelters as habitations by primitive man.


Jacobs Cavern is situated on the north bank of Little Sugar
Creek, two miles east of Pineville, the county-seat of McDonald
County, Missouri.

The County is included in the so-called " Ozark Uplift," or
elevated lands extending from near Carbondale, in southern
Illinois, southwestward through Missouri and Arkansas to near
South McAlester, in the Indian Territory. Some of the heights
attain an altitude of seven or eight hundred metres, but in
McDonald County much of the land forms a plateau of about
three hundred metres altitude, intersected by valleys seventy
or eighty metres deep.

The large number of the valleys, the steepness of the slopes,
and the beautiful woods upon them, combine with numerous
rushing, clear, cold streams to give a charm to the landscape
that is a reminder of some parts of New England.

The climate is moderate, rather colder than would be inferred
from the latitude, 36° 35' north ; the soil is stony, but some-
what fertile in the river bottoms. Fruit raising is, however,
the characteristic agricultural pursuit.

Freshets of violent and widespread destructive power are
not infrequent, the creeks and rivers doubling or trebling their


depth in a few hours. Such floods add an element of uncer-
tainty to farm work and the chances of success.

Good water and the altitude render the region comparatively '

Jacobs Cavern may be reached by carriage from Pineville, itself
accessible by stage from Lanagan, a station 9 km. distant on the
Kansas City Southern Railway ; or the cavern may be approached
by wagon road from Bentonville, Arkansas, 30 km. to the south-
east. This city is the county seat of Benton County, Arkansas, on
the Bentonville Branch of the St. Louis and San Francisco Rail-
road. The absence of bridges and the occurrence of the floods
above mentioned make communication on occasion uncertain.

Who were the first inhabitants of the Ozark region -is not
known. The historical inhabitants may have been the Kiowas
after their migration southward from the Black Hills.

The cavern is included in the district ceded by the Great
and Little Osages to the United States on June 2, 1825.^

These Osages, of the Siouxan linguistic stock, are further said
to have lived on the Osage River, a hundred miles to the north, and
on a tributary of the Arkansas River, perhaps somewhat nearer .^

Of the early explorers, Coronado, on his expedition to Kan-
sas in 1540, probably passed to the westward of the Ozark
Mountains ; and there is a tradition that De Soto's men, after
his crossing the Mississippi, ascended the White River as far
as what is now Benton County, Arkansas.

The first recorded white settlement near the district was that
of the French near the mouth of the St. Francis River, in 1670.

A certain Adam Batie was, it is said, the first white man
to enter a claim to government land in the neighborhood ; this
was shortly after 1819, when Arkansas Territory was organ-
ized. It lay near Maysville, northwestern Benton County.

In later times the region was in the track of military opera-
tions in the war of 1860-65, and the caves were probably of

^ C. C. Royce, Indian Land Cessions, Bur. Eth. Rep. No. 18.
2 Lewis and Clark, Journals, Vol. I, p. 43, Ed. New Amsterdam Book Co.,
New York, 1902.


use in the guerilla warfare characteristic of border sections.
A Minie ball was found in the ashes at the rear of Jacobs Cav-
ern. At present the immediate valley is somewhat sparsely
inhabited by farmers, of whom a considerable proportion are
of northern birth. Negroes are almost entirely absent.


The " Ozark Uplift " abounds in recesses and caverns varying
from rock-shelters a few metres in depth to true caves with a
length of several kilometres.


Under the guidance of Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Moorehead examined
some of the caverns of the White River Valley, Arkansas.

One of them, known as Eden Bluff, is on the north bank
of White River, in the western half of Section 34, Township 19
north and Range 29 west, Benton County, Arkansas.

In the bluff proper is a rock-shelter, with an opening about
100 m. in length in the side of the cliff and with a depth inward of
perhaps 17 m. ; the bluff has altogether a height of nearly 100 m.

The rock-shelter was used in early times for burials, and
five or six skeletons have at different times been exhumed;
a feature was the " wild hay," dried, found in connection with
the burials. This long grass is said to have been abundant
on the hills at a time when the country was less heavily
wooded. Great damage has been done in the interior by
modern searchers after "Spanish gold."

The same condition of affairs exists two kilometres up the
White River from Eden Bluff.

A small cavern at this point has been tampered with at
different times, and among the earth and stone excavated were
many bones of animals, some of them showing the first stages
of becoming fossils.

A more detailed examination was undertaken of McElhaney
Cavern, situated \ km. east of Monte Ne, Benton County,


Arkansas,^ 8 km. southeast of Rogers. It is on the farm of
J. H. McElhaiiey, in the southeastern quarter of Section 27,
Township 19 north, Range 29 west. It faces southwest, and
its dimensions are as follows :

Height from floor to roof, at the opening 3 m. 35 cm.

Height from deposits on floor to roof, 6 m. within the cavern . 2 m. 44 cm.
Height from deposits on floor to roof, 8 m. 30 cm. within the

cavern 1 m. 52 cm.

Immediately adjoining McElhaney Cavern to the eastward
is a small rock-shelter, the floor of which is 2 m. 13 cm. above
the present valley level, but whose roof is a prolongation of
the stratum of rock forming that of McElhaney Cavern proper.

A deposit of gravel 75 cm. in thickness has been laid down
in a cave of which the present small rock-shelter is probably
a remnant or successor ; water dripping upon this has caused
it to become a firmly cemented breccia.

Above the breccia, stalactitic and stalagmitic material filled
up much of what was left of space in the cave. The average
thickness of the two strata of breccia and of stalactitic material
is not far from the same, 75 cm. or more.

Behind these and parallel to them, the small shelter extends
for some distance in the form of a cave. The filling in of the
small shelter in all likelihood took place before the floor of
McElhaney Cavern was established, hence, possibly, the com-
plete absence thus far of evidences in the breccia stratum of
liuman presence.

The floor of the larger (McElhaney) Cavern was found cov-
ered with black earth 66 cm. to 1 m. in depth; ashes and
debris, abundant near the walls, were intermingled.

There were no stalactites long enough to reach the floor, and
no stalagmites.

Animal bones, flint implements, and fragments of pottery
were found, not giving evidence of great age.

One fragmentary skeleton was found near the east wall,
40 cm. down.

1 Abstract of Report by E. H. Jacobs.


It is probable that the occupation of this cavern was more
recent than that of Jacobs Cavern.

The abundance of the village sites in the valleys, and in the
terraces of the White River region, is shown by the frequent find-
ing of projectile points, knives, hammer- and rubbing-stones, etc.,
and points to a long and full inhabiting by man ; game and fish
are not far to seek, and the soil is of a moderate richness.

Pictographs are found in the neighborhood of Eden BlufC ;
cosmic symbols, tribal and totemic signs, etc., are in evidence.


The hills along Sugar Creek have been caused by the erosion
by water of the massive limestone rock.

This limestone contains a large amount of flint or chert, usu-
ally in the form of nodular concretions, although sometimes
occurring in definite layers. This is the Boone chert of geolo-
gists and belongs to the Subcarboniferous Age. The limestone
is otherwise known as the Mississippian limestone ; it is the rock
that covers the greater part of southwestern Missouri, northeast-
ern Indian Territory, and northern Arkansas. The lead and zinc
mines of Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas are in this formation.

In the lower part of the limestone, flint is often absent, and
the massive gray rocks are arranged in definite layers, usually
from 10 cm. to 50 cm. in thickness.

This part of the formation, known as the St. Joe limestone,
is sometimes 20 m. thick, and often is wrought by weathering
into characteristic precipitous or overhanging bluffs, extending,
it may be, for miles along a stream. The St. Joe limestone is
cut at irregular intervals by two series of vertical joints or
fissures that divide the rook into rectangular blocks.

The principal series of these joints, which may be termed
the master- joints, trend approximately north 35° west, and the
other series north 20° east.

I From the complete report of Professor C. N. Gould. Cf. also his article in
Science, July .31, 1903, p. 151.


The joints may often be distinguished along the face of the
cliffs, where they form the division planes between the rock
that is still in place and the blocks that have fallen off.

Immediately beneath the limestone is a mass of shales known
as the Eureka shales, attaining at times a thickness of 15 m.

The shales, usually black and papyraceous and worn by
weather into thin flakes and tablets, are impervious to water,
while the limestone and chert just above are more or less
porous; thus there arise thousands of springs which issue
between the St. Joe limestone and the Eureka shales ; at this
horizon are the famous Eureka Springs of Arkansas. Also
between the limestone and tlie shale are numerous caves,
formed usually by the wearing away of the soft shales beneath
the harder medium.

Jacobs Cavern is entirely within the St. Joe limestone, thus
differing from the other caves. Immediately above the mouth
of the cave the bluff overhangs for about 3 m., and then gradu-
ally slopes for 100 m., more or less, to the top of the hill.

The cave is truly a rock-shelter, with floor, roof, and walls
of limestone, irregularly V-shaped ; it is throughout natural,
no marks of human workmanship being visible in the walls
or roof.

The flat top is composed of a single stratum of limestone,
while along the sides of the cave stratification lines are well

The rock floor is covered to a depth of 1 m. with clay, usually
a homogeneous mass, yellowish brown, containing fragments of

Above this was a deposit of ashes. There seems no reason
to doubt that the clay is a residual result of the disintegration
of the limestone, for, so far as noticed, it has never been dis-
turbed, and the line of separation between it and the ashes
above is generally sharply marked. Pits dug in different places
showed essentially the same clay structure. Near the bottom
of the clay the small limestone fragments are more nximerous
than above, while at the top they are practically wanting.


At the back of the cave is a fissure, extending upward from
the roof to a height of 3 m., separating the roof of the cave
from the rear wall. The fissure, probably a master-joint of the
series described above, is from 1 m. to less than 1 m. wide, and
continues along the back of the cave beyond the main part>
forming a narrow recess, which in turn extends for about 5 m.i

Along this fissure, and also along the back of the cave where
the fissure does not extend, are stalactites, stalagmites, and
pilasters, formed by the action of water dropping from the
roof. In places the entire fissure above the level of the roof
is choked with stalactitic material. The continued dropping
of the water carrying CaCOg in solution upon the ashes cov-
ering the floor has formed a sort of stalagmitic ash-breccia,
often enclosing fragments of flint or sandstone, flint imple-
ments, bones, charcoal, and other material similar to that found
buried elsewhere in the ashes.

To the mind of the writer, there is no doubt that the ash-
breccia was formed very slowly during and after the deposition
of the ashes.

The peculiar toadstool-like shape of some of the pillars, the
like of which he has never observed in any other cave, appears
to point indisputably to this conclusion. After a careful ex-
amination the writer assumes that the following process has
taken place : Ashes mingled with bones, flint, and charcoal
were deposited upon the floor ; then the water dropping from
the roof formed the stalagmitic breccia, which spread out in
a mass in the shape of a toadstool. Around or upon this sta-
lagmite other ashes and charcoal were deposited, and a second
toadstool was formed by the water; in some cases even a third
may be seen.

Finally, when the deposition of the ashes ceased, the stalag-
mite continued to grow until it joined the stalactite from
above, forming a pilaster.

Near the back of the cave, particularly underneath the fis-

1 "Bone-recess" on the map.


sure, the greater part of the ashes and some of the clay cover-
ing the limestone floor have been cemented by the action of
CaCOj, forming ash-, clay-, and limestone-breccia, often very

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Online LibraryCharles PeabodyThe exploration of Jacobs cavern, McDonald county, Missouri → online text (page 1 of 3)