Greater Ancestors

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Union County – The Skulls Are Very Large

“The skulls are very large but fall to pieces on being exposed to the air. One skull was found that would have measured 36 inches in circumference.”



The most extensive works of the mound builders in this county are situated in the bottom, fifteen miles from Anna. At that point in a horseshoe bend in the creek, which renders the place very favorable for a defensive work. The earthwork follows the bend in the creek, is at this time, about 10 feet high. The entrance to the enclosure is on the south side, with a large oblong mound in front of the opening. This mound is about 30 by 50 feet and 15 feet high at the highest point, with a depression in the center, which makes it appear in profile like a double mound. West of this mound, a short distance, is a round mound about 30 feet in diameter and 15 feet high. The earthwork encloses twenty acres. Within it there is a mound covering about two acres, which is evidently a sepulchral remain, as large numbers of skeletons have been found in it, none of them perfect, though the earth is compact and dry. Skulls are very large, but fall to pieces on being exposed to the air. One skull has been found that would measure 22 inches in circumference. The skeletons in this were all carefully enclosed with flat stones; each skeleton being separate.

The other mounds appear to have been used for another purpose, probably for defense, as nothing has been found in them. Half of the enclosure, as well as all the mounds, are in a cultivated field. The round mound to the west of the opening and part of the earthwork are in the woods and covered with large timber. In the sepulchral mound, pottery ware, and stone and flint articles have been found, but no metal or implements. One mile northeast of this, on a high beach, that overlooks a lake, is another sepulchral mound, but in this mound, nothing was found with the skeletons. This, like the former, has stones around the skeleton, but the grave is not more than 3 feet and 9 inches deep. The body must have been buried with the feet drawn to the trunk.

Five miles north of this, there is another mound, on the top of the highest hill in the vicinity, and bordering on Bittern Lake. Nothing has been found in it, except two or three copper rings, no skeletons, although indications are that it has been used for burial. About one and a half miles northwest of the last-mentioned mound, there is another sepulchral mound, but as it is in a cultivated field, it is now very nearly level with the surface of the ground, but only recently have any skeletons been found in it, which tends to show that they were buried in the bottom of the mound and are brought to light every year as the plow removes some of the stones placed around the graves.

  1. Annual Report of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1873 (pg. 418) Anna Union County Illinois.

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