Henderson County, Kentucky History



It is undoubtedly true that the Mound Builders at one time inhabited Henderson County. Dr. STINSON, an old resident of this county, and one who has devoted a great part of his life to the study of archaeology and archaeological investigations, in a letter written in 1876, says: "Having examined the camping grounds and graves of the Mound Builders of Posey and Vanderburgh Counties in Indiana, and learning the peculiarities of burying their dead and disposing of their estates, etc., I became anxious to learn whether or not the aborigines of Henderson were of the same tribe and habits of those of the above-named counties across the river. Therefore I came into Henderson County and have examined the southwestern portion of it with the following results: I find that their mounds are similar, the mode of depositing or burying their dead do not differ materially. I visited twenty mounds, some of which I dug into, where I found some fine relics, and got in possession of some excellent historical facts."

The beautiful mound upon which is situated Henderson's Temple of Justice, has been the subject of debate for many years, a number claiming that it is a natural mound, while many others claim it to be the work of the Mound Builders. Tradition has it that this hill or mound in its originality was perfectly shaped, gently and gracefully sloping from its apex to its base, but that the rude hand of the contractor, under the supervision of cruelly tasteless engineers, caused its symmetry to be butchered on two sides. This mound at one time, undoubtedly, sloped in every direction from its summit, as it does now in the direction of Main Street. It is well known, also, that there were a great number of ponds in close proximity to this place, as well as in other parts of the town. Couple this, then, with the historical fact that the Mound Builders did not confine themselves to the taking of dirt from the surrounding soil, but in the building of what they termed their sacred mounds, transported the soil from a long distance, one must at least become reasonably impressed with the belief that this most beautiful spot was the handiwork of that strange people. Who have long since lost their identity, and not the work of Noah's waters, or any subsequent up heaving of the elements. It is, perhaps, quite true that our "Justice Hall" stands upon ground once consecrated to the peculiar worship of the aborigines.

There are other mounds in the county and from them have been gathered many interesting relics of antiquity. Upon the lands of the late Colonel A. H. MAJOR, several miles above the city, is a mound of which the following notice was made several years ago.

"In digging upon these lands numerous skeletons, supposed to have been aborigines were found. Colonel MAJOR and D. R. BURBANK, conducting the search, are quite of the opinion that this was never an Indian burial ground, but a people who inhabited the county prior to the coming of the Indians. Many articles of peculiar beauty and marked curiosity have been found, among the number pipes, bowls, cooking utensils, weapons of war, and evidence of military and official rank. In one grave was found three skeletons, the two smaller ones, supposed to have been females, sitting upon the larger once, supposed to have been a male, and in the mouth of each was found a pipe. This place must have been the burial ground of a populous race of people, for the quantity of teeth found has never before been equaled."

On the farm of A. J. ANDERSON, in Diamond Island Bend, are many mounds, four of which stood above the high water of 1883, the highest ever known. The ground upon which his house stands is a mound, and in 1854, when digging for clay for the purpose of making brick, thousands of bones were found and many remarkable relics, including glass trinkets handsomely carved. In addition to this, a lump of lead three inches square was found. Mr. ANDERSON is satisfied in his own mind that his place was never and Indian burial ground, but that the bones and relics belonged to a race of people living here long before the Indians.

Pages 25 - 26, History of Henderson County, Kentucky
E. L. Starling

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS