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Throughout the southern half of Ohio, there are remains of earth works constructed by a people of whom we have neither history or tradition. All we know of them, is what may be deduced from the character of these ruins. Some of them are in groups occupying several hundred acres. They consist of mounds, lines of embankments, either single, double or treble; sometimes with ditches, but more often without. When without ditches, they resemble a turnpike, but such was not their original design. They both straight and curved, generally forming an enclosed figure, approaching to mathematical regularity; such as a rectangle, octagon, circle or ellipse. A partial enclosure in the form of a horse shoe, or a segment of some regular figure is common. Although mounds and banks of earth, are as nearly imperishable as any structure raised by man, they are more or less obliterated by rains, frosts and other atmospheric agencies.

Some of the parallels require close examination to detect, and especially to follow them; through cultivated fields, herbage, and the undergrowth of western forests.

Ditches and pits are sooner obliterated than works in relief. On these ruins, the timber is of the same size and character, as it is around them. Trees 400 years old have been cut down, whose roots were fixed upon the top of embankments, where the remains of previous generations of trees, were also visible.

There is evidence to show that the race of red men, whom Columbus, De Soto and John Smith, encountered on this Continent, had then been here fifteen or twenty centuries. The Aborigines had no knowledge, and no received traditions of their predecessors; which they must have had, if the race of the mounds were their ancestors. Everything which remains of the mound builders, indicates a people of higher cultivation than that of the Indians. The more ancient race were industrious, cultivating the soil; not wandering hunters. They erected mounds of earth, which are in some instances from sixty to seventy feet high, with a circumference at the base of seven hundred and eight hundred feet. These are still quite imposing piles, rising nearly to the tops of ancient trees, among which they stand.

A single fortification on the bluffs of the Little Miami, called “Fort Ancient,” in Warren county, Ohio has a parapet which in some places is eighteen feet high, and fifty feet thick at the base. The entire work, is computed to contain six hundred thousand cubic yards of embankment, and would allow of twenty thousand men for its defense. Near Newark there is a circle, one-fourth of a mile in diameter, where the bank is at the highest point, twenty-six feet above the bottom of the ditch. This people has left numerous ruins, not only over the southern half of this State, but throughout the low lands of Kentucky, Western Tennessee, Southern Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Mexico. The large cities, if we may judge by their position, were selected on the same principle by which our fathers selected theirs. Extensive ruins were once visible, on or near the sites of Cincinnati, Marietta, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, Circleville, Dayton and Newark.

They were contiguous to large tracts of good land upon valuable water courses. The same people worked the copper mines of Lake Superior. Many of their mounds, are monuments raised to the dead, where valuable relics were placed ; consisting of beads and shells and plates of native copper and silver.

Their tools are of copper, which appears to be the only metal they had for implements.

They forged of it spears , arrow heads, axes, chisels, spades and gouges in its native state, never having been melted or refined. Their tools are found, not only with the ashes of their dead, but on the surface, in the vicinity of their works. Very good cutting tools were made of stone, of which great numbers have been found. The race of red men had also stone axes, knives, spear and arrow heads, but did not possess implements made of copper, with the exception of some very rude knives, found among the tribes inhabiting Lake Superior. Here the Chippewas have sometimes fashioned and awkward knife, or an instrument for dressing skins, from nuggets of native copper which they found in the gravel. The style and finish of their rough knives, enables one at once to separate them, from the more perfect work of the mound builders. This difference of mechanical perfection, aptly distinguishes the civilization of the two races.

The North American Indian principally upon flint, which the race of the mounds used very sparingly.

As implements of wood soon perish, we have little trace of them , although they must have been numerous. Some of the wood shovels and bowls, which they used in the mines of Lake Superior, have been preserved beneath the water and rubbish of old mines. A part of the decayed handle of a copper spear, was found in the same situation. In the north eastern part of Ohio, in the county of Geauga, a war club of Nicaragua wood, was discovered early in the settlement of that region.

This might have belonged to either of the races, which preceded white men on this soil. Wooden ornaments and implements, not being so precious, were not buried with the dead. If they had been, there are cases where something would remain of them. Threads of hempen cloth, and timber forming a sort of coffin or vault, have, in some case, resisted decomposition. So has their ornaments of shell, bone and stone; and their pipes, grotesquely carved with images of animals. All these relics, show a condition advanced beyond the people, called by us the Aborigines, who were the second, perhaps the third, race which preceded us.

Along the south shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, are numerous ancient works; but of a character different from those on the waters of the Ohio. There were two of them within the limits of the city of Cleveland. A low mound was visible within the last twenty years, on the lot at the south east corner of Erie and Euclid streets. But the mounds, embankments and ditches, throughout the lake country are insignificant in size, in comparison with those in the southern part of the State.

Most of those in New York and the northern part of Ohio, are fortifications; while a large part of those farther south were not designed for the purposes of war. Many of the latter had reference to religious ceremonies and sacrifices, probably of human beings.

There is a wide belt of country through central Ohio which is nearly destitute of ancient works, as though there was a neutral tract, not occupied by the ancient races. Those on the waters running northerly into the lake, are generally in strong natural positions. They may still be seen on the Maumee river, above Toledo, and on the Sandusky, Huron and Black rivers. A group of these enclosures existed at the forks of Huron river, where the road crosses, about a mile and a half west of Norwalk. As a sample of ancient forts in the lake country, I insert plans of some of those which are not yet destroyed.



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