Skeletons in Iowa Mounds
The people of Floyd county, Ia., have often speculated as to the contents of a group of forty curious looking mounds on the farm of John Scrimger, but none of them had curiosity enough to investigate until Professor Webster took the work in hand on his own account. The Scrimger farm lies just north of the pretty village of Charles City, and is one of the most beautiful sections of the state. On the eastern part of the farm is a long, low-range, running directly north and south, on top of which are the mounds, some forty in number about three feet in height, and ranging from fifteen to twenty five feet in length. Thus far Professor Webster has opened fourteen of these mounds, and found the skeletons of thirty people, he thinks of a different race of any of the prehistoric remains yet unearthed in this country. Just how long the ridge and mounds have been there Mr. Scrimger can’t say, Neither can the oldest settler, and neither can the pottawatomie Indian traditions which run back many centuries. That both ridge and mounds were built by humans hands plain from the mathematical regularity with which they are arranged, and the hardness of the soil composing them, which is packed firm, like a stone, while that of the virgin prarie in the neighborhood is soft and yielding.
The skeletons found by Professor Webster are in various stages of preservation, some quite solid and other crumbling to dust, while in one mound there was nothing but a bed of ashes. All the dead had been buried in a doubled up position, the knees were crowded on the lower jaw, and the head of each carefully laid towards the east. While the femur bones show that must of the skeletons are those of people 5 feet 7 inches tall, there are four the original owners of which must have been fully 7 feet tall. The skulls are those of a race of very inferior beings. The tops are abnormally thick, and the frontal bones slope abruptly back from the eyes, while the lower jaws protrude forward, so that the under teeth come outside of the upper ones. In general contour the skulls resemble those of the prehistoric mound builders found in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Most of the skeletons found by Professor Webster show marks of fire, as if the flesh had been burned from the bones before burial. Another strange thing is the entire absence of anything like personal trinkets, or implements of war, or of the chase as are generally found in easter mounds. The bones of animals, showing that friends of the deceased had celebrated their intermet with funeral feasts are also missing. The only thing thus far unearthed in the Iowa mounds, aside from the skeletons, is a lot of broken pottery and crude design and make, including one nearly whole vase or urn of archaic workmanship. which professor Webster now has-New York Sun
Capital city courier., September 08, 1888, Image 6
About Capital city courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1893