Grave Creek Mound
Description by Meriwether Lewis, 1803

The Journals of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Sergeant John Ordway Kept On The Expedition Of Western Exploration, 1803-1806. Edited With Introduction and Notes by Milo M. Quaife (Madison: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1915), pp. 41-42.

September 10, 1803

The rain ceased about day, the clouds had not dispersed, and looked very much like giving us a repetition of the last evening's frollic, there was but little fogg and I should have been able to have set out at sunrise, but the Corporal had not yet returned with the bread - I began to fear that he was piqued with the sharp reprimand I gave him the evening before for his negligence & inattention with respect to the bread and had deserted; in this however I was agreably disappointed, about 8 in the morning he came up bring[ing] with him the two men and the bread, they instantly embarked and we set out we passed several very bad riffles this morning and at 11 Oclock six miles below our encampment of last evening I landed on the east side of the [river] and went on shore to view a remarkable artificial mound of earth called by the people in the neighbourhood the Indian grave. This remarkable artificial mound of earth stands on the east bank of the Ohio 12 Miles below Wheeling and about 700 paces from the river, as the land is not cleard the mound is not visible from the river - this mound gives name to two small creek called little and big grave creek which passing about a half a mile on each side of it & fall into ohio about a mile distant from each other the small creek is above, the mound stands on the most elivated ground of a large bottom containing about 4000 acres of land the bottom is bounded from N. E. to S. W. by a high range of hills which seem to discribe a simecircle around it of which the river is the dimater, the hills being more distant from the mound than the river, near the mound to the N. stands a small town lately laid out called Elizabethtown there are but six or seven dwelling houses in it as yet, in this town there are several mounds of the same kind of the large one but not near as large, in various parts of this bottom the traces of old intrenchments are to seen tho' they are so imperfect that they cannot be traced in such manner as to make any complete figure; for this enquire I had not leasure I shall therefore content myself by giving a discription of the large mound and offering some conjectures with regard to the probable purposes for which they were intended by their founders; who ever they may have been. the mound is nearly a regular cone 310 yards in circumpherence at its base & 65 feet high terminating in a blont point whose diameter is 30 feet, this point is concave being depresed about five feet in the center, arround the base runs a ditch 60 feet in width which is broken or inte[r]sected by a ledge of earth raised as high as the outer bank of the ditch on the N. W. side, this bank is about 30 feet wide and appers to have formed the enterence to fortifyed mound - near the summet of this mound grows a white oak tree whose girth is 13 1/2 feet, from the aged appeance of this tree I think it's age might resonably [be]calculated at 300 years, the whole mound is covered with large timber, sugar tree, hickery, poplar, red and white oak &c - I was informed that in removing the earth of a part of one of these lesser mounds that stands in the town the skeletons of two men were found and some brass beads were found among the earth near these bones, my informant told me the beads were sent to Mr Peals museum in Philadelphia where he believed they now were.

Native Americans