Extracted from
History of St. Clair County, Michigan
by A.T. Andreas

History of Michigan

Chapter I


[17] Scientists have ascribed to the Mound Builders varied origins, and though their divergence of opinion may, for a time, seem incompatible with a thorough investigation of the subject, and tend to a confusion of ideas, no doubt whatever may exist as to the comparative accuracy of conclusions arrived at by a few of the investigators. Like the vexed questions of the Pillar Towers and Garden Beds, it has caused much speculation, and elicited opinions from so many antiquarians, ethnologists, and travelers, that little remains to be known of the prehistoric peoples of America. That this continent is co-existent with the world of the ancients can not be questioned. Every investigation, made under the auspices of modern civilization confirms the fact and leaves no channel open through which the skeptic can escape the thorough refutation of his opinions. China, with its numerous living testimonials of antiquity, with its ancient, though limited, literature and its Babelish superstitions, claims a continuous history from antediluvian times; but although its continuity may be denies with every just reason, there is nothing to prevent the transmission of a hieroglyphic record of its history prior to 1656 Anno Mundi, since many traces of its early settlement survived the Deluge, and became sacred objects of the first historical epoch. This very survival of a record, such as that of which the Chinese boast, is not at variance with the designs of a God who made and ruled the universe; but that an antediluvian people inhabited this continent, will not be claimed; because it is not probable, though it may be possible, that a settlement in a land which may be considered a portion of the Asiatic continent, was effected by the immediate followers of the first progenitors of the human race. Therefore, on entering the study of the ancient people who raised these tumulus monuments over large tracts of the country, it will be just sufficient to wander back to that time when the flood-gates of heaven were swung open to hurl destruction on a wicked world; and in doing so the inquiry must be based on legendary, or rather upon many circumstantial evidences; for, so far as written narrative extends, there is nothing to show that a movement of people too far east resulted in a western settlement.


[18] The first and most probable sources in which the origin of the Builders must be sought, are those countries lying along the eastern coast of Asia, which doubtless at that time stretched far beyond its present limits, and presented a continuous shore from Lapatka to Point Cambodia, holding a population comparatively civilized, and all professing some elementary form of Boodhism of later days. Those people, like the Chinese of the present, were bound to live at home, and probably observed that law until after the confusion of languages and the dispersion of the builders of Babel, in 1757, A.M.; but subsequently, within the following century, the old Mongolians, like the new, crossed the great ocean in the very paths taken by the present representatives of the race, arrived on the same shores, which now extend a very questionable hospitality to them, and entered at once upon the colonization of the country south and east, while the Caucasian race engaged in a similar movement of exploration and colonization over what may be justly termed the western extension of Asia, and both peoples growing stalwart under the change, attained a moral and physical eminence to which they never could lay claim under the tropical sun which shed its beams upon the cradle of the human race.

That mysterious people who, like the Brahmins of to-day, worshipped some transitory deity, and in after years, evidently embraced the idealization of Boodhism, as preached in Mongolia early in the thirty-fifth century of the world, together with acquiring the learning of the Confucian and Pythagorean schools of the same period, spread all over the land, and in their numerous settlements erected these raths, or mounds, and sacrificial altars whereon they received their periodical visiting gods, surrendered their bodies to natural absorption or annihilation, and watched for the return of some transmigrated soul, the while adoring the universe, which with beings they believed would be eternally existent. They possessed religious orders corresponding, in external show at least, with the Essenes or Theraputae of the pre-Christian and Christian epochs, and to the reformed Theraputae or monks of the present. Every memento of their coming and their stay which has descended to us is an evidence of their civilized condition. The free copper found within the tumuli; the open veins of the Superior and Iron Mountain copper mines, with all the modus operandi of ancient mining, such as ladders, levers, chisels and hammerheads, discovered by the French explorers of the Northwest and Mississippi, are conclusive proofs that those prehistoric people were highly civilized, and that many flourishing colonies were spread throughout the Mississippi Valley, while yet the mammoth, the mastodon, and a hundred other animals, now only known by their gigantic fossil remains, guarded the eastern shore of the continent, as it were, against supposed invasions of the Tower Builders who went west from Babel; while yet the beautiful isles of the Antilles formed an integral portion of this continent, long year [19] before the European Northmen dreamed of setting forth to the discovery of Greenland and the northern isles, and certainly at a time when all that portion of America north of 45 deg. was an ice-incumbered waste.

Within the last few years great advance have been made toward the discovery of antiquities whether pertaining to remains of organic or inorganic nature. Together with many small but telling relics of the early inhabitants of the country, the fossils of prehistoric animals have been unearthed from end to end of the land, and in districts, too, long pronounced by geologists of some repute to be without even a vestige of vertebrate fossils. Among the collected souvenirs of an age about which so very little is known, are twenty-five vertebrae averaging thirteen inches in diameter, and three vertabrae, ossified together measuring nine cubical feet; a thigh-bone five feet long by twenty-eight in diameter, and the shaft fourteen by eight inches think, the entire lot weighing 600 pounds. These fossils are presumed to belong to the cretaceous period when the Dinosaur roamed over the country from east to west, desolating the villages of the people. This animal is said to be sixty feet long, and when feeding in cypress and palm forests, to extend himself eighty-five feet, so that he may devour the budding tops of those great trees. Other efforts in this direction may lead to great results, and culminate probably in the discovery of a tablet engraven by some learned Mound Builder, describing, in the ancient hieroglyphics of China, all those men and beasts whose history excites so much speculation. The identity of the Mound Builders with the Mongolians might lead us to hope for such a consummation; nor is it beyond the range of probability, particularly in this practical age, to find the future of some industrious antiquarian requite by the upheaval of a tablet written in the Tartar characters of 1700 years ago, bearing on a subject which can now be treated only on a purely circumstantial basis.


may have begun a few centuries prior to the Christian era, and unlike the former expedition or expedtions, to have traversed northeastern Asia, to its Arctic confines, and then east to the narrow channel now known as Behring's Straits, which they crossed, and sailing up the unchanging Yukon, settled under the shadow of Mount St. Elias for many years, and pushing south commingled with their countrymen, soon acquiring the characteristics of the descendants of the first colonists. Chinese chronicles tell of such a people, who went north, and were never heard of more. Circumstances conspire to render that particular colony the carrier of a new religious faith and of an alphabetic system of representative character to the old colonists, and they, doubtless, exercised a most beneficial influence in other respects; because the influx of immigrants of such culture as were the Chinese, even of that remote period, must necessarily bear very favorable results, not only in bringing in reports [20] of their travels, but also accounts from the fatherland bearing on the latest events.

With the idea of a second and important exodus there are many theorists united, one of whom say: "It is now the generally received opinion that the first inhabitant of America passed over from Asia through these straits."

The Esquimaux North America, the Samoieds of Asia, and the Laplanders of Europe, are supposed to be of the same family; and this supposition is strengthened by the affinity which exists in their languages. The researches of Humboldt have traced the Mexicans to the vicinity of Behring's Straits; whence it is conjectured, that they, as well as the Peruvians and other tribes, came originally from Asia, and were the Hurignoos, who are, in the Chinese annals, said to have emigrated under Puno, and to have been lost in the north of Siberia."

Since this theory is accepted by most antiquarians, there is every reason to believe that from the discovery of what may be called an overland route to what was then considered an eastern extension of that country which in now known as the "Celestial Empire," many caravans of emigrants passed to their new homes in the land of illimitable possibilities until the way became a well-marked trail over which the Asiatic might travel forward, and having once entered the Elysian fields never entertained an idea of returning. Thus from generation to generations the tide of immigration poured in until the slopes of the Pacific and the banks of the great inland rivers became hives of busy industry. Magnificent cities and monuments were raised at the bidding of the tribal leaders, and populous settlements centered with happy villages, sprung up everywhere in manifestation of the power and wealth and knowledge of the people. The colonizing Caucasian of the historic period walked over this great country on the very ruins of a civilization which a thousand years before eclipsed all that of which he could boast. He walked through the wilderness of the West over buried treasures hidden under the accumulated growth of nature, nor rested until he saw, with great surprise, the remains of ancient pyramids and temples and cities, larger and evidently more beautiful than ancient Egypt could bring forth after its long years of uninterrupted history. The pyramids resemble those of Egypt in exterior form, and in some instances are of larger dimensions. The pyramids of Cholula is square, having each side of its base 1,335 feet in length, and its height about 172 feet. Another pyramid, situated in the north of Vera Cruz, is formed of large blocks of highly polished porphyry, and bears upon its front hieroglyphic inscriptions and curious sculpture. Each side of its square base is eighty-two feet in length, and a flight of fifty-seven steps conducts to its summit, which is sixty-five feet in height. The ruins of Palenque are said to extend twenty miles along the ridge of a mountain, and the remains of an Aztec city near the banks of the river Gila, are spread over more than a square league. Their literature [21] consisted of hieroglyphics; but their arithmetical knowledge did not extend further than their calculations by the aid of grains of corn. Yet, notwithstanding all their varied accomplishments, and they were evidently many, their notions of religious duty led to a most demoniac zeal, at once barbarously savage and ferociously cruel. Each visiting god, instead of bringing new life to the people, brought death to thousands; and their grotesque idols, exposed to drown the senses of the beholders in fear, wrought wretchedness rather than spiritual happiness, until, as some learned and humane Montezumian said, the people never approached these idols without fear, and this fear was the great animating principle, the great religious motive power which sustained the terrible religion. Their altars were sprinkled with blood drawn from their own bodies in large quantities, and on them thousands of human victims were sacrificed in honor of the demons whom they worshipped. The head and heart of every captive taken in war were offered up as a bloody sacrifice to the god of battles, while the victorious legions feasted on the remaining portions of the death bodies. It has been ascertained that, during the ceremonies attendant on the consecration of two of their temples, the number of prisoners offered up in sacrifice was 12,210; while their own legions contributed voluntary victims to the terrible belief in large numbers. Nor did this horrible custom cease immediately after 1521, when Cortez entered the imperial city of the Montezumas; for, on being driven from it, all his troops who fell into the hands of the native soldiers were subjected to the most terrible and prolonged suffering that could be experienced in this world, and when about to yield up that spirit which is indestructible, were offered in sacrifice, their hearts and heads consecrated, and the victors allowed to feast on yet warm flesh.

A reference is made here to the period when the Montezumas ruled over Mexico, simply to gain a better idea of the hideous idolatry which took the place of the old Boodhism of the Mound Builders, and doubtless helped in a great measure to give victory to the new-comers, even as the tenets of Mahommetanism urged the ignorant followers of the prophet to the conquest of great nations. It was not the faith of the people who built the mounds and the pyramids and the temples, and who, two hundred years before the Christian era, built the great wall of jealous China. No; rather was it that terrible faith born of the Tartar victory, which carried the great defences of China at the point of the javelin and hatchet, who afterwards marched to the very walls of Rome, under Alaric, and spread over the islands of Polynesia to the Pacific slopes of South America.


came there, and, like the pure Mongols of Mexico and the Mississippi valley, rose to a state of civilization bordering on that attained by them. Here for centuries the sons of the fierce Tartar race continued to dwell in comparative peace, until the [22] all-ruling empire took in the whole country from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and peopled the vast territory watered by the Amazon, with a race that was destined to conquer all the peoples of the Orient, and only to fall before the march of the arch-civilizing Caucasian. In course of time these fierce Tartars pushed their settlements northward, and ultimately entered the territories of the Mound Builders, putting to death all who fell within their reach, and causing the survivors of the death-dealing invasion to seek a refuge from the hordes of this semi-barbarous people in the wilds and fastnesses of the North and Northwest. The beautiful country of the Mound Builders was now in the hands of savage invaders, the quiet, industrious people, who raised the temples and pyramids were gone; and the wealth of intelligence and industry accumulating for ages, passed into the possession of a rapacious horde, who could admire it only so far as it offered objects for plunder.

Even in this the invaders were satisfied, and then, having arrived at the height of their ambition, rested on their swords and entered upon the luxury and ease, in the enjoyment of which they were found when the vanguard of European civilization appeared upon the scene. Meantime the southern countries which these adventurers abandoned after having completed their conquests in the North, were soon peopled by hundreds of people, always moving from island to island and ultimately halting amid the ruins of villages deserted by those who, as legends tell, had passed eastward but never returned; and it would scarcely be a matter for surprise if those emigrants were found to be the progenitors of that race found by the Spaniards in 1532, and identical with the Araucanians, Cuenches and Huiltiches of to-day.