Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

Mounds and Mound-Builders

From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908

That there was a race of people inhabiting this county prior to the red men, is abundantly testified to by the mounds that are scattered over this county. I think they number not far from forty. Who or what these people were, or what object they had in view in making these various works can only be conjectured. The largest of these mounds is the one situated near Enon, this county.

It is frequently referred to as "Knob Prairie Mound," and is on the line of march of General Clark on his way to the battle of Piqua. His officers ascended its summit to reconnoiter the surrounding county. This mound is several hundred feet in circumference with a height of forty-five or fifty feet and is located in a level field and shows forth quite prominently. Some years ago the mound was dug into and one of the investigators gives the following as a descriiption of what they found.

"We found top soil all the way for thirty feet, when we came to a cave of curious construction; it was the shape of a bake-oven, and high enough for a man to stand upright in the center. It tapered down on the sides. On one side there was a door, that had evidently led from a ground entrance into the cave. In the middle of the cave was a pile of dirt and stone resembling an altar; on these were bones, charcoal and some pieces of decayed wood, and one piece of partly charred wood in a good state of preservation. This wood was preserved, but the bones would not stand moving. After the party had satisfied their curiosity, they cut their names and date on the altar, filled up the excavation and left."

One of these mounds was situated in the City of Springfield and is well described by Hon. O. T. Martin as follows:

"A few rods east of the intersection of Spring and Washington Streets there was a mound of earth about fifty yards in size across its base and of conical shape. About this period (1818), several white oak trees and clusters of bushes stood upon ists side, and a number of large stumps indicated that other trees had grown nearer its apex."

During the work upon the Dayton & Sandusky Railroad in 1847, this mound was entirely removed for hte earth it contained. As the delvers in it penetrated its interior, they found it had been the burial place for a former generation of people. It was a huge sepulcher full of human bones. As the bones had by this period of time to a great extent become intermingled with the earth, the entire mass was carted to the railroad and formed part of the road bed. while the work was in progress, there was picked up what seemed ot have been a section of the lower jaw bone of a wild animal containing a stout, crooked tusk or tooth. the bone had been ground away so as to be firmly grasped by a human hand. It had no doubt been used as an instrument of warfare. A few days after it had been taken from the ground, it crumbled into dust by action of the air upon it.

There are several of these mounds in Springfield. One being what is now used as the Soldier's Mound in the cemetery, and is described as follows by Prof. Snavely in giving an account of some investigations made there.

"After sinking the shaft four or five feet from the top a hard shell of baked clay was struck, and a hole made therein, which revealed an oven-shaped chamber, or vault, in which appeared large quantities of bones, ashes, charcoal, etc. The bones, when taken in the hand, crumbled to dust, and could be blown away with a breath. Among the skeletons were found a wooden chain — apparently black locust — about seven inches long, of perhaps five or six links, and a fine bone of about three by one and a half inches in size. The size of the vault can be estimated from the statement that one could turn a ten-foot rail around endwise on the inside quite readily. The hole was left open for some years afterward and finally closed of its own accord, as it appeared when the ground was sold for cemetery purpsoes. What became of the relics is forgotten, as are also the names of the students who made the investigation."

Another eye witness of a later date and excavation says: "In digging the graves for the burial of soldiers, burnt clay, ashes and charcoal were found, and also wood that had thoroughly decyaed almost beyond recognition was discovered and seems to have served the purpose of protecting the burnt clay, which may have been used for burial purposes, but no hollow place or any evidence of one were noticed. Still, as the first row of graves, where these relics were found, begins at twenty-two feet from the center of hte new mound, and as the center of the old mound is sixteen feet south and three feet west of it there may be a possibility that the burnt clay, which was found in digging the graves, is at the limit of the vault and the rotten wood was the remnant of the protection afforded during the construction of the old mound.

"In forming the new mound no investigation was made of the interior of the old mound, but a record was made of the exact location.

"It is 410 yeards north from the margin of the creek at an elevation of 100 feet, or, in exact figures, from engineer's survey, height of level surfac ebase above creek level, 102 feet; height of top of mound, 107.5 feet, which made the indian mound at the time of survey, 1863, 5.5 feet high and had a probable diameter of 30 or 32 feet."

The present mound is 200 feet in diameter and the center is 16 feet north and 3 feet east of the center of the Indian mound: and in height 7 feet, and surrounded by an iron flag-staff, 112 feet high and 8 feet in the ground.

The same person gives the following contributions as to Bechtle Mound situate near the park.