Greater Ancestors

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Allegheny county – Immense Proportions

An Old Indian Burying Ground Discovered in Pittsburg.

Within the last few weeks, quite a number of human skeletons, some of them in a tolerably fair state of preservation, have been dug up from the old Indian burying ground in the 9th Ward. Our readers may not be aware, perhaps, that in the early history of this neighborhood, and when the red man had almost exclusive control west of the mountains, that portion of the Ninth Ward lying in the vicinity of the Lake Superior Copper Works was a favorite burying ground with the Indian tribes. The tract so used extends over an area of several acres and appears to be thickly underlaid with human remains. In sinking the foundations of the various oil works and manufacturing establishments lately erected in this neighborhood, a large number of human bones, skulls, etc. were discovered, but the only perfect skeletons yet found were those disinterred while the foundations for Parker & Brothers’ new steel works were being excavated. At a point here, near the riverbank, two skeletons were discovered, one of which appeared to be that of an Indian Chief, and the other that of a young girl, who was perhaps the dead warrior’s daughter. The man, judging from his remains, must have been of herculean proportions. His skull wore that peculiar shape which distinguishes the Indian cranium, and bore evidence of having been fractured at some period or other of his life, possibly by the tomahawk of an enemy.

The greatest interest, however, centered in the remains of the girl, who evidently held a high position in her tribe. On each of her arms were two silver bracelets, and suspended from her neck was a silver crucifix. At the time of her interment, her clothing must have been literally covered with tiny silver bells, as some three or four hundred, altogether, of these, with a large number of beads strung upon what appeared to be saddlers’ silk, were discovered in the grave. She had also a very rich ring on one of her fingers and wore earrings of extraordinary size. Several buttons of European manufacture, strung together like sleeve-buttons, were also found lying around, and some fragments of cloth, which fell to pieces when disturbed. Various other little articles lay scattered through the grave, all going to show that the deceased, when in life, must have occupied a most exalted position. She was a princess, possibly, or the daughter, it may be, of some powerful chief.

Some thirty feet from where the remains alluded to were found, the skeleton of a warrior was discovered, standing erect, with the face to the Alleghany. The size of the bones indicated that the man must have been of immense proportions. Another skeleton, in an excellent state of preservation, was also discovered a few yards further back, but in fact, wherever an excavation was made, bones were found. We are not familiar enough with Indian history to venture an opinion as to when the red men first commenced burying their dead here; it is clear, however, that they must have resorted to it long, long before our occupation of the country, otherwise, the ground occupied would not have been so extensive or the interments so numerous. Evening Chronicle.

  1. The dollar weekly bulletin. [volume], December 04, 1862, Image 1


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