Greater Ancestors

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Scioto County? Of All Sizes

Skeletons of All Sizes

To the south west of this tumulus, about 40 rods from it, is another, more than 90 feet in height. It stands on a large hill, which appears to be artificial. This mound must have been the common cemetery, as it contains an immense number of human skeletons of all sizes and ages. The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads generally towards the center and the feet towards the outside of the tumulus. A considerable part of this work stands uninjured, except by time.


To the south west of this tumulus, about 40 rods from it, is another, more than 90 feet in height. It stands on a large hill, which appears to be artificial. This mound must have been the common cemetery, as it contains an immense number of human skeletons of all sizes and ages. The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads generally towards the center and the feet towards the outside of the tumulus. A considerable part of this work stands uninjured, except by time.

Near the center of the round fort *** was a tumulus of earth about 10 feet in height and several rods in diameter at its base. On its eastern side, and extending 6 rods from it, was a semicircular pavement composed of pebbles such as are now found in the bed of the Scioto River, from whence they appear to have been brought. The summit of this tumulus was nearly 30 feet in diameter, and there was a raised way to it, leading from the east, like a modern turnpike. The summit was level. The outline of the semicircular pavement and the walk is still discernible. The earth composing this mound was entirely removed several years since. The writer was present at its removal and carefully examined the contents. It contained—

A great quantity of arrow-heads, some of which were so large as to induce a belief that they were used as spear-heads.

A large mirrour about 3 feet in breadth and 1½ inches in thickness. This mirrour was of isinglass (mica membranacea), and on it—

6th. A plate of iron which had become an oxyde, but before it was disturbed by the spade resembled a plate of cast iron. The mirrour answered the purpose very well for which it was intended. This skeleton had also been burned like the former, and lay on charcoal and a considerable quantity of wood ashes. A part of the mirrour is in my possession, as well as a piece of brick taken from the spot at the time. The knife or sword handle was sent to Mr. Peal’s Museum, at Philadelphia.

To the southwest of this tumulus, about 40 rods from it, is another, more than 90 feet in height, which is shown on the plate representing these works. It stands on a large hill, which appears to be artificial. This must have been the common cemetery, as it contains an immense number of human skeletons of all sizes and ages. The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads generally towards the center and the feet towards the outside of the tumulus. A considerable part of this work still stands uninjured, except by time. In it have been found, besides these skeletons, stone axes and knives, and several ornaments, with holes through them, by means of which, with a cord passing through these perforations, they could be worn by their owners. On the south side of this tumulus, and not far from it, was a semicircular fosse, which, when I first saw it, was 6 feet deep. On opening it was discovered at the bottom a great quantity of human bones, which I am inclined to believe were the remains of those who had been slain in some great and destructive battle: first, because they belonged to persons who had attained their full size,


Letter From a Citizen of Early Days


EDITOR REGISTER – I see in the St. Louis Republic a statement from Portsmouth, Ohio, that on the old farm of Joshua Kelley’s at Union furnace landing, and under the old house there was unearthed a lot of human skeletons, that produced a sensation among the citizens in that part of the country. When I read it, it did not surprise me in the least. I was raised one mile above Hanging Rock on the old Wm. Carpenter farm, and one mile below Ironton and left there in 1841 to come to Missouri when I was 8 to 12 years old. I used to visit John Kelly’s mid one-half mile below Union Landing and often went up to the Kelly farm before the Union furnace landing was established to look at old Indian mounds not far from the landing in the Kelly field, to find old bones of humans, dogs, horses, deer and other animals. It was said then to me, by old settlers, old aunt Amy Davidson wife of ——- Davidson, that there used to be an old Indian town there, and on the John Kelly farm just below it, and at an early day it had been a battle ground of the Indians and many were killed and buried there. After the Ohio river had been up in the spring of the year, the banks caved off from Union landing to opposite Mrs. Austin’s old brick house, and there were many human and other bones left on the bank after the water went down. I with other boys have picked up five or more barrels of them when we went to mill, and waiting for our grist. I heard my grand father, Samuel Clark, who did the work on John Kelly’s log house, in the Fall of 1804, say that while he was there at work, some of the work hands found close to the line between the Kelly farm and the Austin farm a pile of lead bullets; that filled a peck measure full; and when digging the cellar for the Kelly house, in the southwest corner of the cellar, about 4 feet down, they dug up big human skeletons that were nearly 7 feet long and the jaw bone with teeth in it would slip over the jaw bone outside of the flesh of grandfather’s face and not press it any. He was 5 feet 9 inches high and weighed 165 pounds. The leg bone from the knee joint to the ankle joint would, put on the floor, come to the top of his knee; and that there was a bone spear in the shape of a straight knife blade 11 inches long found with the skeletons when dug up there.
       I have heard many thrilling stories told about the Indian doings at the head of the Ferguson bar in the river at and below Union Landing; of the murdering of a whole family going down the river in what was then called family boats, made to move down the river in taking the family and stock in the boat, and the bar in the river forced the boats close to the bank there, they became an easy prey to the Indians and many of them were murdered for what they had in their boats. These things were talked of many times by the old settlers, such as the Trumbos, Austins, Dollarhides, grandmother Yingling, Mr. Gillruth, Mr. Neff, father of George and Jacob and grandfather of Gabriel and Samuel Neff and by Mr. Osborne and Mr. Norman who lived at the mouth of the branch at Hanging Rock. The lower branch was named Normans run, after Mr. Norman, who lived at the mouth of the branch, on the lower side of the branch. The upper branch, Osborne run, that divided the old Bartles farm from the Hanging Rock the place just where the road crossed the bridge just west of the ground occupied by widow Ellison, west of the Ellison house. And on the farm just opposite, where I was engaged, on the old Clancey farm, there were many Indian mounds full of human bones; that many of them were thrown out the ground by plow. I have heard old Mr. Warnoch and old Mr. Dugans talk of the big Indian town on that and the Mead farms and the stories they told would make the hair stand straight on one’s head.
Now this is what I have been told by the old settlers in that part of the country, and have seen myself when I was a small boy and lived there then. I am a son of Wm. Carpenter and cousin of Wm. and Edius Lambert. Wm. Lambert is the father of Wm. and Whitfield Lambert, who were interested in the foundry at Ironton. I left there in 1841; came to Missouri and was back to the old place in 1855 and have not been there since. I would like to be back there to see the changes that have taken place since. I found when back there, but few of my old acquaintances and the old Lee, Smith, Davidson and Lionbarger farms sold and the town of Ironton on them, and the old man Bartles farm sold and a part of the town Hanging Rock built on it; and would not now find anyone that I ever knew as most of them are dead and the balance have moved away and I would be a stranger there now. I am too old to think of coming back to see the old place again; am 74 years old; have good health, strong hearing and sight; can shoot a rifle and hit the bottom of a half pint tin cut at 40 yards, 3 out of 5 shots; have chopped a cord of wood a day this winter.
When you read this, it will probably give you some idea of the mystery on the Kelly farm and you can publish it if you like, as it would give many of your people of your country an idea of how things used to be in that part of the country and the change that has taken place since I left there in April 1841, and hope this will not worry your patience out of you to read it.


Amos Carpenter,

  1. S. — Wilson Clark of Mason in your country is my cousin. My father, Fred Bartles, John Steece, Joseph Huffman and Wm. Wolf built Center furnace in 1836 and sold it to Robt. Hamilton, Jas. Rodgers and Wm. Shirer.

Among the Skeletons

Digging Into An Ancient Mound

Crowded with the Bones of the Mound Builders

Pottery, Beads, Shells, and Many Interesting Trinkets Unearthed

Last Tuesday, S. C. Winkler entered the Register office with a basket, from which he drew out from under the papers, that covered the contents, a glistening skull. “That” said he “is a product of my farm- I dug it up a few days ago; and this,” pulling out a long strand of beads, and holding it up, I took out with the skull, and must have been around the neck of the person.”
Mr. Winkler went on to remark that five or six skeletons had been dug up from a little spot, a few feet square, but they broke to pieces as they were exhumed. The place which contained the skeletons had been covered by the old dwelling house of Joshua Kelly, father of Rev. J. M. Kelly, at Union landing. The house had been torn down and removed and Mr. Winkler was leveling down the ground where the house stood, preparatory to plowing, and thus struck the skeletons.
So remarkable a find was exciting to a newspaper man, so we immediately returned with Mr. Winkler, taking a seat by his side in his two-horse express and driving through the snow storm to the land of the mound builders.
Reaching Mr. Winkler’s house, we found dinner awaiting him, which was a happy circumstance for the Register man, too, for we fell to, and absorbed an enjoyable meal, and made ourselves strong to tackle the skeletons sleeping so sweetly in the mound over on the river bank; for thither we immediately repaired. The spot as we said had been covered by Joshua Kelly’s residence, which was built on an Indian mound in 1828. Rumor comes down that from that remote day, when digging the foundation for the chimney, they exhumed a skeleton of a ferocious warrior who must have been seven and a half feet high, and whose lower jaw, fitted to an ordinary man’s completely enveloped it.
But, since those days nothing further has been noticed, except that the land around was thick with pieces of pottery and peculiar trinkets of a lost race. Now, when Mr. Winkler attempts to remove the gentle elevation occupied by the building, his shovel and pick strike skeletons at nearly every thrust. Last week, in digging a hole six feet square, he struck five or six skeletons and took out two perfect skulls, with the teeth robed in the peculiar cadaverous smile.
When we arrived at the place the excavations were resumed. In a moment, the shovel was crunching through ribs and thigh bones and vertebrae at a fearful rate. We would strike a thigh bone and follow it up through the pelvis, and thence along the spine to the cranium, and thus endeavor to save the skeletons and the skulls, but they were already broken, or easily fell to pieces when removed. But we got fine specimens of the jaw bones, the humerus, the femur, divers vertebrae, and sections of the skulls. In a couple of hours we exhumed half a dozen cranis, but were unable to secure a perfect one. There are, probably, the bones of fifty persons in that little vestige of a mound that is not over thirty feet in diameter.
We did not have to dig down more than 2 ½ feet to find the remains. Some were within 8 or 10 inches of the surface. Two feet down, one strikes the solid original earth, a yellowish clay. Above that, the earth, constituting the mound, is all rich loam, removed to that place, at least a thousand years or more ago. Ashes and shells, the usual accompaniment of these interesting mounds are here in profusion. The beads making a strand five feet long were a very interesting discovery. Mr. Winkler kindly gave us a generous portion of this strand which we will prize as a keepsake coming down from a nation whose existence is yet wrapped in deep mystery.
One thing we noticed about these ancient inhabitants was the excellence of their teeth. The jaws were all full of sound teeth, and an enterprising dentist might, even in this day, make them do good service in the mouths of beauty and fashion.
We should not have wondered if the good family that founded their home over that little graveyard and raised their children there, would have had some little fears of ghosts and hobgoblins had they known that right beneath them were fifty skeletons. It was certainly a fine chance for spooks, for surely anyone’s fancy amid such a scene, could without much effort, summon up a whole train of disembodied spirits. Digging there in the middle of the day, in the reality of a snow storm, we could not help beholding in the dim vistas of oblivion, giants and ______ of a vanished race, every time we struck a cranium or flipped out huge femur.
There are the remains of the Mound builders, who lived here over a thousand years ago, long before the Choctaws and Chippewas ranged the forests and built their wigwams on the banks of the beautiful river. In their last resting places, we found pieces of pottery, mussel shells, ashes, and trinkets that mark unerringly the last abode of the Mound builders. We brought with us as a trophy of the day’s experience, a piece of pottery, a vertebra, a knee cap, and some beads.
Some of the bones were very large, showing that there were giants in those days. But among the remains were the thin cranial bones of the child, that almost fell to pieces at the touch. It would have been almost impossible to rescue a complete skeleton unless a person were to do the exhuming entirely with his fingers, and then he would find many of the bones quite imperfect. There seemed to have been no order of burial except that the bodies were laid with the heads in the direction of the river.
When the first of these bodies were exhumed, a few days ago, the rumors of a ghastly find of the bodies of recently murdered people got out, and some one wrote the Portsmouth Blade of discovery, and the editor thereof demanded that the authorities investigate the matter. But our neighbor should compose himself. If those are murdered remains, the murderers must have lived 10 or 15 hundred years ago, and it is now a little late to arrest them.

References & Other accounts in this county:

  1. North American Burial Customs, Dr. H. C. Yarrow, 1879. PAGE 118.
  2. Yarrow, H. C. Introduction to the Study of Mortuary Customs among the North American Indians. Washington D.C.: Washington Government Printing Office, 1880. Accessed by a history of scioto county 1885 page 355


Chris L Lesley / GAWMuseum

  1. North American Burial Customs, Dr. H. C. Yarrow, 1879. Burial near the
  2. Ironton Register, Thursday, April 14, 1892, CARPENTER STORE, P. O., MO., MARCH 26, 1892Scioto River, Ohio. Nephilim Chronicles. page 210.
  3. Ironton Register, Thursday, March 17, 1892

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