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With this brief résumé of the previous reports, I herewith present my (fifth) annual report for 1906:
REPORT FOR 1906.
The beginning of the year, from January 1 to April 1 was devoted to arranging material in the museum and to arranging and listing the library. The daily care of the rooms was no small part of the work, and little was accomplished beyond routine work during this time.
The Academy of Sciences asked me to prepare a paper on aboriginal pottery for their meeting February 2 and 3, 1996. February 23 I was called to Swedeburg, a little town in Saunders county, to deliver a lecture.
During the past two years little has been done in the way of securing large collections for the museum. The already crowded condition seemed to justify inactivity until such a time as the legislature should see fit to grant us more commodious quarters, but there are a number of collections in the state which demand immediate attention if we ever expect to secure them, and I was determined to secure collections and care for them as best we could until more space was secured.
To this end I visited Florence, April 5, and investigated the W. F. Parker collection with the agent of the estate. June 6 I spent two hours in the Parker museum. There are few things of historical value to Nebraska in the collection. It is interesting, but Nebraska is not well represented in it, and the whole collection is going to ruin from lack of care. There is no catalogue and the moths are doing much damage in the valuable rugs and costumes.
The safe which is in the Parker museum was the one used by the bank of Florence and is a valuable Nebraska relic. An old bass drum which the Mormons used at the "winter quarters" is also of interest historically, but most of the pieces are from other countries, and as they lack labels are of no value to science.
May 25 I gave a talk at the Prescott school on Indian customs, and later a talk at the city library along the same line. A new town was dedicated on the new line of the Great Northern at Lesharu, and I was asked to give a talk on the old Pawnee village site near by.
While on the trip to investigate the Parker collection I went with R. F. Gilder to view some of the earthworks he had discovered north of Florence, and stopped to see the place where the "Learned Spear" was found. This spear is. seven inches long and three inches wide. It is a very artistic piece of chipping from agatized wood. Originally it was brown in color, but one side is eroded to a bluish white. is very different from any spear found in the state and evidently was not made by the Otoes who formerly owned the land. It will take the evidence of a specialist to determine how long this material must be exposed to the elements to change the color as this is changed. There is no evidence of a grave at the point where it was found and it seems to have been in the drift or in the loess soil.
While on this trip we saw the great lodge circle in the top of a hill overlooking the Missouri river. This circle is over 60 feet in diameter and fully six feet deep in the center; it is one of the largest I have seen. Many bits of flint and ancient pottery near prove it to be old. Mr. Gilder showed me many evidences of aborigines north of Florence, which convinced me that the archeological condition in that vicinity is very complicated. In fact the whole Missouri front is a very complicated study. It is in this field that the "Nebraska Loess Man" was discovered. The geologists are better qualified to handle the situation in regard to this find, as it is purely a geological question. There is no doubt but the bones found are human bones, and the only question involved is the age of the bones; this must be determined by the age of the undisturbed geological formation in which they were found.
June 20th I visited the home of W. J. Harmon in company with J. J. Hawthorne of Fremont. Mr. Harmon owns the land upon which an ancient Indian village site is situated. This site, which I have named the "Harmon Site," is on seetion 28, township 17 north, range 8 east. It is situated on a high bluff overlooking the Platte river. Near the point of the bluff may be seen a number of lodge circles and mounds similar to the mound houses on the Burkett site.
No implements showing contact with whites were found; a number of specimens of pottery of ancient design were picked up there, as well as broken flints of a gray color and some brown specimens.
This site was doubtless contemporaneous with the Ithaca site, as the debris is similar, although the Ithaca site yielded a few relics showing contact with the whites. The Harmon site covers an area of about three or four acres and was the home of some small band of aborigines for a number of years. The mounds have not been disturbed, and a cross-section of them may yield more evidence of the people. This site is one of many in Saunders county, and in fact all along the Platte. The proof of the identity of one will settle the identity of all, as they all bear a close resemblance to each other. The supposition that these villages are Pawnee may be established as a fact, but at present writing the study has not gone far enough to prove it beyond doubt.
About a mile farther up the river and quite near its banks, is the site of the once famous "Neapolis."
Tradition has this to say of this place:
The “rump” legislature of 1857-58, which adjourned from Omaha to Florence, January 8, 1858, passed a resolution lecating the capital of the territory at a point which should be sixty miles west of the Missouri river and within six miles of the Platte river north or south. An enterprising company from Plattsmouth discovered a valuable body of timber on the Platte river and immediately "jumped" the claim and laid
out the town of "Neapolis" (on paper), erected a sawmill, and applied for the capital of the territory, as the location met the requirements of the resolution.
The raft of lumber which was sawed from the timber was wrecked on its way to market. The general assembly, in the fifth session, patched up the difficulties and the capital remained at Omaha. Nothing seems to be known of this bold venture except the site of the would-be capital and metropolis, Neapolis. It is a beautiful spot, and one can not help but regret the adverse influences which made it but a tradition. A mile south of the little town of Linwood in Butler county is a ruin of an Indian village. I visited this field June 21, 1906, and secured a number of relics. The village was evidently burned, as the soil is plentifully intermixed with charcoal; so much so that one is at a loss to account for such an abundance from the burning of the village. Pieces of cedar posts are plowed out from year to year, and these, being well preserved, indicate that this site is not so old as tradition in the vicinity seems to imply. The land is owned by J. B. Tichacek, who came here in the '70s; he says that a sod wall nearly three feet high enclosed forty acres which was thickly covered with lodge circles. He has graded down the wall and filled the circles until the ground is nearly level.
Not a scrap of pottery can I find on the site and not a single flint chip. A number of rust-eaten iron arrow points were found and some pieces of metal. These all show contact with whites. One very interesting specimen was found—a small image of a horse moulded in clay and burned very hard; it is not two inches long, but is a very good representation of a horse. This is probably the most valuable and interesting thing left on this site. I think the tribe which lived here had trouble. I think they lived here not longer than ten years, and probably no longer than five. If the village contained over a thousand circles, as Mr. Tichacek seems to think it did, the tribe must have been quite numer
ous and may have been driven away from this place very soon after the village was built. I am confident the Pawnees were the builders of the village. It is certain the village was built long after the Indians had learned to depend on the white man for his weapons and utensils.
Immediately west of this village ruin, and situated on a bench twenty feet or more above the bottom-land where this ruined site just described is found, is the site of an ancient stone age village. The two villages are side by side, and by a casual observer might be taken for the same village site. This ancient site yields abundance of potsherds and chipped flints. The lodge circles are in a pasture covered with brush and small trees, so very little could be learned of its extent. This site was built, occupied, and abandoned long before contact with the whites. It belongs to the class of ancient villages strewn along the Platte on both sides, but is some years older than the sites near Genoa and Fullerton. Some day we will know just who built these villages and approximately the date of occupancy.
South of Linwood some six or eight miles, not far from the banks of Skull creek, is an Indian burying ground, and eight miles farther up the Platte, near the head of a large island and not far from where Shinn's ferry once plied the waters, is another cemetery. While all the points of evidence are more or less of interest and yield a certain amount of information, nothing can be definitely determined until the greater number of these ancient villages and sepultures have been examined and studied. Relics are being gathered and conditions noted which will all contribute to a certain and definite knowledge.
N. J. Anderson, of Wahoo, very kindly sent the museum a photograph of a pile of Indian bones dug out of the mound at Ithaca which I saw in 1900; a number of relics were found which showed that the Indians buried here were supplied with utensils and arms almost wholly by the white men.