Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Jefferson County 9 footer


The ftfttunsntlt Cave, and the Early
Attir-rirttn filaai.
The conduct of the prehistoric races of
this continent, in omitting to leave any
record which could establish their origin
and customs, was extremely thoughtless.
They managed such things vastly better
in Europe. When the cave-dwellers
grew tired of their subterranean exist
ence and decided to die, they had some
consideration for those who were to come
after them. They selected specimens of
the fconesoT all the animals of the period,
and drew portrlats of themselves on the
handles of their tooth brushe and then
laid down to die surrounded by these
mute witnesses of their fondness for art
and animals. Thus, when a British ex
plorer finds a cave-dweller’s skeleton,
wit,h its accompanying cabinet of curios
ities, he is at once enabled to assert that
the cave-dwellers were contemporary
with bears and tooth brumes, and has
the great satisfaction of knowing that as
soon as he can dUeover the date at which
the cave-bear flourished in the British
Islands, he will know the date at which
the cave-dweller lived. In North Amer
ica, on the contrary, the earliest residents
were sublimely selfish, and cared nothing
whatever for the archaeological feelings
of subsequent generations. When a
mound-builder died, he neither collected
any extraneous bones, nor took the slight
est care of his own. Had he requested
his surviving friends to look upon his
corpse in the light of an antiquarian corner-stone,
and to bury in it a box con
taining the newspapers and coins of the
period, there tt’ould be some pleasure in
digging him up. Or If he had simply
directed that his name and destination
should be inexpensively stenciled on one
of his largest bones, he could have saved i
us a great deal ot unprofitable discussion
as to his real character. But he did !
nothing of the sort : and in consequence, i
when we now find his skeleton, it is use- j
fe8 eten to the coroner, and entirely in-1
distinguishable from the ordinary Indian
skeleton.- i
Tilt? mblie will lie unpleaantlv re
minded of tins fallous indifference to j
the future orl the part Cf prehistoric i
Americans by the recent discovert of;
three unusually fine skeletons In Ken-1
tut’ky. A Louisville paper anserts that
two ftief lately undertook to explore a
cave whieh thrv hpf-irlentnlltr discovered
not far from that city. The: entrance to
the cave was small, but the cxnloretS sOOfi I
found themselves in a magnificent apart-1
ment, richly furnished with the most ex- j
pensive and fashionable stalactites. In a
corner of this hall stood a large stone ‘
fairiily vau it, whieh the two men promptly
pried opefl; In it ifrere found three j
skeletons, each rie.H.riy iiine feet in height
The skeletons appear to hitve somewhat
frightened the young men, for on Welng
so extensive a collection of bones, they f
immediately dropped their torch, and ;
subsequently wandered in darkness for .
thirty-six hours before they found their;
way back to day-light and soda-water.
Now, it is evident that these gigantic ‘
skeletons belonged to men Very diflerent j
from the men of the present day. A j
skeleton eight feet and ten inches in i
height tvould measure fully riino feet I
when dressed in even a thin suit of fltuh. ,
The tallest nine-fwt giant is rarely more ‘
than six feet fbflr inches high iu private
life and without his lioots, And even giants ‘
of this quality are scarce and dear. The
three genuine nine-foot men of Kentucky
must have lie longed to a race that is now 1
entirely extinct, and hence it would be
a matter of very great interest if we could j
loarn wiu) ami wnai tiiey were. ,
curiosity. They cou.daiiord (obel.uried I
in a gorgeous family vault, and hence
could have easily afforded to decorate the
vault with a plain and inexpensive door
plate. They could afford to pay the cost
of having their heavy lsslies carried a
long distance into the cave ln-fore. they
were deposited in the vault, Htid it is rea
sonably certain that they did not obtain
possession of so eligible a burial-place
t-llU luillir. .fub rw muni iin u mini in 41 j
paper collar, a gilt sleeve-button or a
cheap jack-knife, was buried with them.
When we contrast this selfish parsimony
with the generous forethought ot the
cave-dweller who died with a bear’s skull
in one hand, a rhinoceros’ born in the
other, and with his pockets stuffed full
of engraved tooth-brush handles, merely
in order to please remote posterity, we
can only blush for the selfish want of
public spirit of the early American giant.
Of course, tbe tale of the two young
Kcntuckian explorers needs confirmation.
They may have made their aliened dis
covcry while in an advanced state of hot 1
whisky, or they may have inniiiitactiired
their skeletons before finding them, with
the view of adding to the attractions of
the centennial exhibition. Whole pano
ramas of eccentric skeletons have been
frequently seen in Kentucky and else
where, by men who have looked too fre
quently ujxin the whisky when it is hot
and flavored with sugar and lemon-peel;
and the story of the Cardiff giant reminds
us that the manufacture of prehistoric
men has already been attempted. Still,
even if the early American giant proves
to be a fact, we have no reason to hope
that we shall ever find out what manner
of man he was. It is only too evident
that he was as inconsiderate as the early
American cucumber, whieh insists upon
running all over contiguous vegetable
beds, without dejsisiting sufficient cu
eumlicrs to atone for its trespass. Hc
died and left no sign, nnd he deserves our
hearty condemnation for his selfish care

Near Louisville Kentucky.

The herald and mail. [volume], April 07, 1876, Image 1

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