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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Mammoth Bones

Editor's Note:

Mammoth Bones: Prehistoric mammoths, mastodons, and bison roamed the upper Mississippi Valley for thousands of years. Remains have been found in several Wisconsin locations, and the recent discovery of butchered mammoth bones carbon dated to 12,310 years ago is one of the earliest proofs of human habitation in North America (more information).

At the time that Rev. Marsh was writing, scholars were still discovering new American animal species and some suspected that mammoths might still inhabit the as-yet-unstudied interior of the continent. Thomas Jefferson had made much of the discovery of mammoth bones in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Rev. Marsh was being careful here to make notes on this new evidence about the contemporary controversy.

Tues [Sept.] 2nd

... I have omitted in its proper place to mention that mammoth bones have been found in the Red Cedar river near Pow-we-sheak's village in a state of petrification. Near the place where they are found an Indn. has been drowned, and another Indn. got some, and not thinking it right, went and buried them, in two or three days afterwards was taken sick and died; besides, [they] say the bones are frequently changing their position, and they think there is something very mysterious about them. One woman has a part of a tooth which she keeps for medicine supposing it to be very efficacious in curing disorders.

After my return, having arranged my affairs, I crossed over on to the main land and returned the horses in safety which I had hired of the Mr. Wells. After, an interview with the family in which the Rev. Mr. Marberry related what he had heard that Appenooce told Mr. D., and also that he had tried to get an opportunity to speak to the chiefs upon the subject of religion or a mission amongst them, but they would not listen.

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