Theodore H. Lewis and the Northwestern Archaeological Survey’s 1891 Fieldwork in the American Bottom

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Theodore H. Lewis and the Northwestern Archaeological Survey’s 1891 Fieldwork in the American Bottom
  l Theodore H. Lewis and the Northwestern Archaeological Survey's 1.891 Fieldwork in theAmericanBottom FredA. Finney This paper focuses on theTheodore H. Lewis"LostSuruey" oJ Cahgkil arl! other mound sites in the imeriian Bottom. Archaeologists working in the upper Mississippi Riaeraalley haue long been familiar with the latenineteenth-century NorthzoesternArchaeological Slmey -(NA-S) sponiored by Alfred I . Hill. kwis personally identified more moundsthan any other archseolo- gist inEastirnNorth America. tlntil now, it has completely escaped attention that I'ewis con- iucted an AmericanBottom suraey fortheNAS.DuringAprill\gl., Lewis sequentially aisited EastSt. Lauis (LL5705),Fairmont City (11582), Cahokia(1.1Ms2 and 1L534),Emerald(1L5L), Pt'eft'er (L15205and 1,1-s204), Mitchell (L1Ms30), Theis (L1Ms44),Rathmeyer (un- ,umberui),'Hoffien (11Ms179),andWest(11Ms75). His site descriptions containaaluableint'ormation. Ai'Cahokia,Lewis foltowsthe existingMcAdamssite ma,p ashe compiles the ioundsby quarter sections. Lewis' suraey comprisesan important supplement tothe CahokiaAttas. Hii description oJEast St.Louis includespreuiously undocumentedmounds to the north of thosemappedby Patiickin1880.Atsneral other sites,e.g., Cahokia, M,itchell,Emerald,and pfrfft, Lewis'exferienceled to the obseraation of mounds nolonger aisible tolster researchers' Foi"some sites, e.g.,PJeffer andTheis, it is their only mention in the nineteenth-century litera- ttre. At other siis, i.g.-, Mitrhrtt, Lewis obseraedscattereclnearby mounds, some of which re-main unrecorded to tiis day. Finally, the dataon mound shapes add rtew int'ormation to airtu' ally all of the sites I'ewisoisited. Thi, p"p", will focusonthe previouslyunrecognizedobservations of Theodore H. Lewis on Cahokiaandother selected mound sites in the AmericanBottom.Archaeologists working in the upper MississippiRivervalley have longbeenfamiliar with the Alfred J' Hill sponsoied 1881:i895 Northwlstern ArchaeologicalSurvey(NAS) that recordedover tZ,OOOmounds and earthworls. The fieldworkbyLewis concentrated onMinnesota,Wis- consin,Iowa,and the Dakotas. It remains a standard reference for these states. Lesser sur- vey effortswere directed towards sites in other states includingIllinois. The NAS is widely kntwn 19 haveexamined several effigy mounds in the RockRivervalley nearthe Wiscon- sin border (Boris 1984; Lewis 1888,'1.894,1"918; Snyder 1909a). Until now, it has comple.tely escaped attention thatLewisconducted a survey ofselected mound sites in the AmericanBottomduring April 1891 (Figure L). Amongother sites, Lewis visited Cahokia (11Ms2 and frra A e;""r1,ttU""is Trarnportat:ionArchaeological Research Progrnm, llniaersity ofIllinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 6L82'0 @ 2000ilIinoisArchaeological suraey,Inc., Illinois Archaeology, ool 1.2 (1 and2) ?,41  Finney u5 Figure 1. Sites surueyedby Lewis in the American Bottom. 11534),East St. Louis (115706), Mitchell (11Ms30), Fairmont City (11582), Emerald (1151), and Pfeffer (115205 and 115204). Archaeologistsrecounting the history of research in theAmerican Bottom havenevercited Lewis.His lost survey of Cahokiaand the other sites has been totally missed by all previousinvestigators. Specifically, Lewis is not mentioned inJames B. Griffin's writings on the AmericanBottom, Fowler's (1,997) Cahokia Atlas, Kelly's (1994) article on East St. Louis, Milner's (i998) Mississippian summary and site gazetteeq, nor Porter's (1974) Mitchell site report.This absence is unexpectedgiven thatLewis (7898:4,6) twicementions East St. Louis andCahokia as the southern boundary of theNAS in his publishedsummaryof thesurvey. wesl \LzRathmererAmerican Bottom Vt \rai'o,"ntcitv It Easr salnt Louis-d{/alurune N 2 0 2 4Miles, A 2O2I 6KtrmeteE F!  u6 lllinois Archaeology 12 (L and2),2.000 NorthwestemArchaeological Survey Through the sponsorship of Alfred J. Hill, theNASrecordedthousands of AmericanIndianmoundsin the Upper Midwest. Hill was a civil engineer in St. Paul, Minnesota, who became concernedabout the ongoing destruction of mounds and other sites as the result of expandingurbandevelopment. In the 1860s, Hill was a memberofthe Committeeon Ar- chaeology ofthe MinnesotaHistorical Society (MHS). After the MHSdropped this commit- tee in the lBTS,Hillretained a fascination with mounds. He decided to continue recording basic sitedata such as thediameter, height, and internal arrangementof the mounds at a site. The NAS was based on Hill's (n.d.) written research proposal-a highly unusualproce- dure for thelatenineteenth century, andapproximately 80-90 yearsbefore it became a regular archaeologicalpractice. Hisproposalclearly stated the project g_9als, initially re- str]cted to the State of Minnesota. To complete these goals Hill hired Theodore Hayes Lewis,l a professional land surveyor, as the field archaeologist (Winchell 1911). In terms of geographic scope,the NASremains thelargest privately fundedarchaeo- logicalprojectevJr undertakenln the United States. Throughthe NAS, Lewismapped m6re thunihree times the number of moundsthat the agents ofCyrusThomas (1894) did for the Bureau of American Ethnologr. Lewis did not use other field agents-he personally observedand mapped moremounds than any other contemporary or zubseque-nt Ameri- can archaeologist. His salary was $3 per day over the 15-year history of the NAS,.*1!18 Lewis oneof tie first long-term consultingarchaeologistsin the United States (Irwin 1964). In a management decisio-n that will be recognizedby contemporary archaeologists, Hilldid not pay foi rain days. Unfortunately the NASended abruptly in 1895 with the unexpectedaeain of Hitl. Accoiding to Lewis (1898) the total cost of theNAS was $1.6,200. Thus the sur-vey accumulated an iniredible archaeologicalsite databaseat a late nineteenth-century cost of approximately $1 per mound. Itis importanf to nbtethat the NAS is an incompletework. Appl"itrylgJy 10 more years would havebeen required to cornplete Hill and Lewis'plan(Winchell1911). Aftertheabrupttermination of fi eldwork, subsequentNAS history becomes "The Curse ofthe Mani-tou,/i.e., an American version of "The Curse of the Mummy." First, Hill's will couldnot be found. Second, Lewisdidnotown his field notes.As part of Hill's estate, they became un- available to Lewis. For this reason Lewiscouldnot write his plannedbook on the results of the NAS. This is unfortunate as he had a solidrecordof publishing articles based onthe NAS fieldwork. Lewisproduced a series of field reports on sites in North Dakota, SouthDa- kota,Minnesota, Iowi, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Topics ranged from mound sites, effiry mounds, enclosures, petroglyphs andincised boulders,boulder outline figures, copp"r riir,"r, to historic sites. Among thesearticles, Lewis is best known for using tft". igas fieidwork to expose WilliamPidgeon's (1853) best selling moundbuilder,h-.o.y book Traditions of De-Coo-Dsh as a pseudoscientific fraud (Lewis 1886; Silverberg 196g:150-151; Williams 199L:5G57).His Illinois articles involveeffigymoundsin the north- ernpart ofthe state (Lewis 1888,1894, 1918). Surprisingly, these-articlesdo notindicatehis NAS affiliation. Lewisapparently made a midlife career switchfrom archaeologist to histo- rianandprofessor afteit:t e NASended.As an historian, Lewis producednotable scholarly efforts, including an editedbook on the early Spanishexplorers in theSoutheastern United States thatis stillbeingreprinted (Hodge and Lewis 1907,1959,1984,1'990).His contribu-tion centered on the Hernando deSoto Expedition(Lewis 7900,1901a,1901b, 1902,1903,  Finney 1907,1927a,7927b). Lewis' (1903) evaluation of the early chroniclersremainsan object of pra is e (G alloway 19 97 :478 479 He ni ge 1997 :155).2 ' The lack of complete projectpublication delegatedthe NASto the status of an ob- scure deadend in the history of American Archaeology. It is not even mentionedin most summaries of late Victorian-eraarchaeolo6y @.g,absent from Meltzer 1985)'Because of Lewis' extensivepublicationrecord,he is often cited without any reference to theNAS (e.g., Silverberg f-lOA;. In contrast, thepublicationof theSmithsonian's mound research wa-s a landmaik achievement for Thomas (1894) andthe BureauofAmerican Ethnology (Dobbs 1991; Smith 1985). Circa 1903JacobV Brower, aMinnesotaattorneyand-avocational archaeologist,made a lasting contribution to MidwestArchaeologythroughthepurchase ofthe NAfnotebooks from Hill's heirs.This eventdidnothelpLewis,asBrowerplanned to publish theNASmaterials. Brower's subsequent demise i{99? cancelledtheseplans. Af- ter Brower's death,theMHSobtainedthe NASrecords(Dobbs 1985,199'J',1994; Green 1987;I{eyeslg?ts,1930,1977;Winchell19i1)' Newton H' Winchell (1911)' the Minnesota State Ge;logist, is thescholar whoreported the Minnesotapart oftheNAS survey 16 yearsafter the fieldwork ended. For this reasorytheNAS has remained a standardreference for archaeologists working in Minnesota.Despite earlyefforts by Charles R' Keyes (192B, 1930) in Iowa,n6t until the f ggOs aia the NAS records became routinely used byarchaeologists in the surrounding states (Green 1987).Since the mid-1980s summaryportions of lh9NAS haveappeared6y state, e.g., Nebraska(Wood 1978), northernIllinois (Boris 1984), Wiscol- sin lOobbs lg1q;North Dikota (Haury 1990),Iowa (Haury 1993), andMinnesota (Dobbs 1991,1994).NASFieldMethods When possible Lewis traveledby railroad toreach the neareststation tothe sites. Hill supplied te#is with apass from a railroadline in the area theywished to survey. This *.ittoa depended on iailroad passes being available Jor the selectedarea(Keyes L928, f faO1. Ott u. transportation methods consistedof steamboat, rowboat,wagon, stagecoach, horslback,and pedestrian. It is estimatedthatLewistraveledover 54,000 miles in the courseof the NAS (Lewis 1898). Using theavailable maps ofhis day, Lewisrecordedeach site bytownship, range, sectiory and one or more quartersections.There are occasional er- rors in hisrecorded siie locations,usually limited to the quarter-sectiondesignations. Lewis was awareofthe potential for such problems. These errors usuallyreflect the quality of the availablemups oi problems with thesrcinal government land survey (Dobbs 1991). At eacirsite Lewisdid a pedestrian walkoverin thecourseof mapping the mounds. Surface collectionswererarelymade as the usualobjective wasto map mounds.Lewis used a cloth tape, an engineer''slevel,and acompass. Beginning on oneedge of amound group, he wrote down tie firstmound's diameter and heighf andtook a compass bearing f.rdilst".,ce to thenextmound. This procedurewas continued at Mound 2 and so onthrough the remaining mounds. In theLewis notes, information for each tumuli occupies one liie that records itlmound numbet,diameter (or length and width for rectilinearspeci- mens), height, and compass bearingand distancetothenext mound' There is noevidencethat Lewisilosed these opentraverses (Dobbs 1991). These kind of detailedmeasurements are unfortunately missing from his American Bottomsurvey'  Illinois Archaeology 1,2 (1and D, ?n00 Areal Extent of the NAS The vast bulk of the NAS fieldwork was conducted in the Upper Midwest. Bynumber of moundsrecorded, the NAS is best represented in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota,and South Dakota(Dobbs 1985,199'J.,1994; Green 1987;Haury 1990,1993; Winchell 1911). By contrast, little work was done south of northeast Iowa and northern llli- nois (Lewis 1898). The NASnotebooks contain sparsenotes from Kansas, Nebraska, Mis- souri,Illinois, Indiana,Ohio, and Michigan sites. The April 189i survey in the AmericanBottom was followed by an excursion west from St. Louis toKansas City that followed theMissouri River (e.g., Lewis 1892).3 .- TheNAS 1891 AmericanBottom Survey Lewis startedhis AmericanBottom mound survey at East St. Louis(FiguresL-2).Next, he moved east throughFairmont City to Cahokia. From there Lewiswent east toEm- erald and Pfeffer. A returnvisit to the north 6f Cahokia encompassed Mitcheil and other nearby mounds. With the exception ofPfeffer, all of these sites would havebeen mentionedin the archaeological literature by 1891. The inclusion of Pfeffer is either based on a local in- formant while visitingEmerald or perhaps the visibilityof the 115205 platform mound from the train window. Lewis couldhave planned the American Bottom surveyusing pub-lished sources todetermine which sites he wished to field check. It is also possible that Lewis had corresponded with Snyder orMcAdams about thelocal sites. The following quotes are a transcription of Lewis' (n.d'.:27-31) April4'1Q 1891, sur- veyof the AmericanBottom. Annotations after each quote outline the present status of thesurvey parcels. No attempt is made topresent a complete history of investigations at each site. Rather the goal is to present the 1891site conditions, and how these observations alter archaeological knowledge of the sites. Lewis mentions a total of 140 mounds in this survey (Table 1). East St. Louis Mound Group(1L5706) St. Clair Co Ill East St Louis Ill [Lewis n.d.:27] Lewis began his St. Clair County mound investigations at the East St. Louis mound group (115706), which is a secondline center in Fowler's Cahokia settlement pattern. A re-cent articleby John Kelly (i99a) highlights the nineteenth-centurydestructionof this site which was initiallyreported to contain 45 to 50 mounds (e.g., Brackenridge 1.814). The onlyknown early map of 115706is Patricks 1880 map (Figure 3). Even by 1880 much of the sitehad been seeminglydestroyed, as Patrickmapped just 17 mounds. That number includedtumuli previouslyremovedfor fill.Unforhrnately many archaeologistshave assumed that the East St. Louis moundgroup was completely destroyed in the nineteenthcentury. One reason for this misconception is that a considerable quantity (1-2 m) of historic fill exists over the site area and completely masksthe pre-EuroAmerican settlementlandscape. Forexample, theabove ground portion of the Cemeterymound, called E-1 byPatrick,was bor- rorved away in 1869-1870.It exhibited a platform shape being 100 x75 m in extent with a
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