An Archaeological Survey of the Thiebaud Property, Switzerland County, Indiana

An Archaeological Survey of the Thiebaud
Property, Switzerland County, Indiana
Michael Strezewski
Robert G. McCullough,
Principal Investigator
Reports of Investigations 305
February 2004
IPFW Archaeological Survey
Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne
2101 East Coliseum Blvd.
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805-1499
Forward to the Digital Version
August 2004
This is a digital version of the Indiana University–Purdue University at Fort Wayne
Archaeological Survey (IPFW-AS) Report of Investigations 305, originally published in
February of 2004. This digital version was produced by the IPFW-AS using Adobe Acrobat 5.0
software and may be viewed or printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader. The digital version of ROI
305 is identical in content to the original paper version of the report. However, due to changes in
format, there may be some differences in pagination from the original.
This report contains archaeological site location information that is not intended for public
disclosure. This report is solely for distribution to professional archaeologists and others who
would normally have access to this kind of information. Therefore, the contents of this report
should be treated with discretion.
Sarah Surface-Evans
Words of appreciation are due to Martha Bladen, Leon Hostettler, and Chris Baas, whose active
interest in the history and prehistory of Switzerland County made this survey possible. Leon is
to be commended for his willingness to come out with us on a cold, rainy January morning to
show us around the property. His insights also proved most valuable.
Table of Contents
List of Figures .............................................................................................................................. iii
Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 1
Physiography and Geology ............................................................................................................ 2
Archaeological Setting ................................................................................................................... 9
Previous Research ........................................................................................................................ 20
Results .......................................................................................................................................... 23
Conclusions .................................................................................................................................. 50
Referenced Cited .......................................................................................................................... 55
List of Figures
Figure 1.
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Figure 34.
Figure 35.
Boundaries of the Thiebaud property on the U.S.G.S. Vevay South 7.5'
quadrangle map ...................................................................................................... 1
Map of identified soil types on the Thiebaud property (modified from Nickell
1987). ..................................................................................................................... 5
Areas of the Thiebaud property available for agricultural production (modified
from Nickell 1987) ................................................................................................. 7
1930 aerial photo of the Thiebaud property ........................................................... 8
Location of Late Prehistoric cultural manifestations in the Ohio River valley ... 16
Location of disced areas ...................................................................................... 24
Disced areas immediately west of the press barn (Area A). View to the west .... 25
Planview map of disced Area A, showing location of artifact clusters ............... 26
Demolished structures identified on the Thiebaud property ................................ 28
Planview map of Structure A ............................................................................... 29
Southwest corner of Structure A foundation ....................................................... 30
Planview map of Structure B ............................................................................... 31
Southwest corner of Structure B, view to the northeast ...................................... 32
Structure C, view toward the south ...................................................................... 33
Location of stone walls on the Thiebaud property .............................................. 34
General view of Wall A, view to the east ............................................................ 35
Partially collapsed section of Wall A, showing its location on the edge of the
ridgetop ................................................................................................................ 36
Wall B, view to the west ...................................................................................... 37
Eastern terminus of Wall B, showing horizonally lain blocks along the slope ... 38
Wall D, view to the north ..................................................................................... 39
Planview map of Wall D ...................................................................................... 40
Location of trailer sites, creek crossings, and pump house ................................. 41
Location of check dams in the western ravine ..................................................... 42
Example of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine ................................... 43
Check dam in the upper portion of the ravine, near the ridgetop ........................ 44
Planvew map of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine ........................... 45
Planview map of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine .......................... 46
Piles of limestone slabs identified on the Thiebaud property .............................. 47
Limestone pile A, view to the northeast. Note loose slabs in foreground from
digging in center of the pile ................................................................................. 48
Location of livestock ponds on the Thiebaud property ....................................... 49
Old county road, creek crossing, and stone cairn at northern edge of property .. 50
1883 atlas of Craig Township showing road running along north edge of property.
Present property boundary is shown in pink ........................................................ 51
Approximate extent of terraced area above the house and press barn. ................ 52
Previously unidentified prehistoric sites on the Thiebaud property .................... 53
Artifacts found at site 12 Sw 418 ......................................................................... 54
At the request of the Switzerland County Historical
Society, the Indiana University - Purdue University
Archaeological Survey (IPFW-AS) has completed
an archaeological assessment of the Thiebaud
property in Craig Township, Switzerland County,
Indiana, approximately 2.0 miles west of the town
of Vevay (Figure 1). The Thiebaud property fronts
the Ohio River and encompasses 165 acres,
approximately 90 percent of which lies in heavily
dissected uplands. Though the site is significant in
terms of the history of Switzerland County, no
formal survey has been conducted of the historic
and prehistoric archaeological resources present
on the property. This report provides an
assessment and description of these resources.
The Thiebaud farmstead was established by
Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud, who immigrated
from Switzerland in 1817, following other Swiss
immigrants to the newly opened Ohio River area of
Indiana (Taylor and McBirney 1996:596). Prior to
their arrival, the family had forwarded money to the
United States for the purchase of land and had
arranged for a cabin to be built on the property.
After arrival in Switzerland County, via keelboat,
the family set about clearing the land, planting
crops, and constructing outbuildings (Hendricks
2001:4). A large hay press barn was constructed
in the mid-nineteenth century. The property
Figure 1. Boundaries of the Thiebaud property on the U.S.G.S. Vevay South 7.5’ quadrangle map.
continued to be used for agricultural purposes
through the twentieth century.
Due to local interest in its historical
significance, the most recent landowner, the Dow
Corning Corporation, deeded the property to the
Switzerland County Historical Society in August
2002. The Historical Society intends to turn the
existing structures into a living history museum,
highlighting the agricultural contribution that
Switzerland County made to the region. A nowdismantled nineteenth century hay press barn is
also to be erected on the property. Hay press
barns housed a three-story-high machine designed
to compact hay into tight bales for shipping to
points downriver, where they could fetch a higher
price. At one point in time, over 200 hay press
barns dotted the Switzerland County landscape.
At the present time, however, only a few of these
barns remain in Switzerland County.
Survey by IPFW-AS personnel was
conducted over the course of three non-sequential
days (August 13, 2003, November 19, 2003, and
January 17, 2004) and consisted of pedestrian
survey throughout the extent of the property. Due
to time and budgetary constraints, no systematic
subsurface testing was conduced. The one
exception to this was a limited pedestrian surface
survey that was undertaken in three disced areas
around the house and press barn. This report
includes descriptions of the location and nature of
all identified stone walls, bridges, demolished
structures, and a number of other manmade
features on the property. Descriptions of currently
standing structures are not included in this report.
These structures consist of a Greek Revival style
house, hay press barn, granary, carriage house/
buggy shop, privy, a small limestone building
(possibly a springhouse), and a stone wall
surrounding the house. All of these structures are
concentrated in one small area of the property, just
north of State Road 56. Details of their
construction and current condition are covered in
Baas’ recent summary of the property (2003) and
will therefore not be repeated here. Though only
limited subsurface reconnaissance of the property
was conducted during the course of the survey,
two prehistoric archaeological sites were also
The Switzerland County region lies within the
Dearborn Upland physiographic region.
Topography is that of a deeply dissected upland
plateau. Ravines in this region are typically vshaped, steeply sloped, and may lie up to 450 ft
below the adjacent uplands. (Schneider 1966:42).
The area is underlain by limestone and shale
bedrock. Though the topography is quite hilly,
cliffs and rockshelters are not commonly found, as
these features are most often associated with
sandstone rather than limestone bedrock (Campbell
The entirety of southeastern Indiana was
glaciated during the Illinoisan glacial period
(300,000-125,000 years ago), an event which
molded the surface geology of the Switzerland
County region (Lindsey et al. 1969:54).
Switzerland County did, however, escape the
impact of the later Wisconsinan glacial period
(75,000-10,000 years ago) that created the flat,
almost featureless landscape found farther to the
north (Campbell 1997:161). Upland areas in
Switzerland County are overlain by glacial drift.
The term drift comprises all material transported
and deposited by glacial action. Most often, this
material was deposited when the glacier began to
melt. The thickness of the drift varies from about 15
to 20 feet thick in the Switzerland County area to
over 50 feet in thickness near the Wisconsinan
glacial boundary near Franklin County, Indiana.
Due to the deep mantle of glacial drift, the contours
of the underlying bedrock have little effect on
present-day topographic features.
Bedrock outcrops of chert, a material suitable
for the prehistoric manufacture of stone tools, are
not abundant in the Switzerland County region.
This is a result of the deep till deposits that overlie
the bedrock. Though chert nodules may be found
within deposits of till, the quality and size of the raw
material can vary widely, a fact which may have
limited its usefulness. Outcrops of poor-quality
fossiliferous chert have been reported from the
bluffs directly to the west of State Road 129, just
west of Vevay proper. The material is reportedly
similar to poor-quality Laurel chert (Leon
Hostetler, pers. comm. 2003) and the frequency of
its use in prehistory is not known. Quality raw
material suitable for the manufacture of stone tools
can be found, however, to the north of Switzerland
County. Laurel chert, which outcrops in northern
Jefferson, western Dearborn, and Ripley counties,
is fairly homogenous, making it a very good raw
material for knapping stone tools. Laurel chert is
also reported as residual deposits just to the north
of the project area (Angst 1998:101). It is usually
white in color, with great variability in texture and
luster. Laurel chert was used extensively
throughout prehistory, particularly during the
Archaic period (Cantin 1994:23). For example,
residents of the Late Archaic Maple Creek site in
southwestern Ohio made extensive use of Laurel
chert, despite being over 50 miles from its source
(Vickery 1974).
Though no systematic study of the use of
Laurel chert has been conducted for Switzerland
County, previous archaeological research in the
area suggests that Laurel may have been a primary
lithic source for prehistoric stone tool manufacture.
For example, in 1999, a Ball State University
survey of State Road 129 between Vevay and
Pleasant located 44 previously unreported
prehistoric archaeological sites. Of these sites,
Laurel chert was nearly always the predominant
material for stone tool manufacture (Angst 1998).
Much of the Laurel chert identified during this
survey was heat treated, a process done to
improve its workability. Local glacial cherts were
also occasionally utilized, though their relative
scarcity in archaeological samples suggests that the
local raw material may not have been adequate for
many prehistoric uses.
Jeffersonville chert is found in northern
Jefferson County and eastern Jennings County,
Indiana. It is a white, fossiliferous chert found in
tabular chunks. Heat treatment of this chert turns it
slightly pink. The presence of fossils in
Jeffersonville chert hampers its usefulness,
particularly for those tools that require precision
flaking. Not much is known about its use in
prehistory, though it was likely utilized, due to its
presence in an otherwise chert-poor region of the
state (Cantin 1994:21). Angst’s (1998) survey of
the area near the project area suggests that
Jeffersonville chert appears to have been used only
occasionally by the prehistoric inhabitants of
Switzerland County.
Allen’s Creek chert, like Jeffersonville, is
another fossiliferous, bedded chert. It is found
primarily in western Clark County and is most
often light gray in color. Most Allen’s Creek chert
is of only mediocre quality, though heat treating can
improve its knappability greatly. Some Allen’s
Creek, however, is of higher quality. The degree of
its prehistoric use in southeastern Indiana is not
well known, though a recent Ball State survey of
State Road 129 (Angst 1998) found little or no
evidence for the use of Allen’s Creek chert in the
areas immediately surrounding the project area.
Finally, Angst (1998) also recorded a minor
presence of Wyandotte chert near the project
area. This high-quality chert outcrops primarily in
Harrison County. Because of its excellent
knapping characteristics, Wyandotte chert was
traded extensively throughout the region during
prehistory. Its use was particularly popular during
the Late Archaic, and Early and Middle Woodland
periods (Cantin 1994:32).
Initial studies suggest that chert use patterns
may have differed substantially in upland versus
bottomland locales. Angst (1998:101) reports that
in upland settings, cherts from glacial sources
account for only 2.0 percent of the total. In the
bottoms, however, glacial cherts made up 30.0
percent of all materials. Laurel chert, which was
found in relatively high quantities, made up 91.0
percent of the total at upland sites and only 44.0
percent in bottomland settings. The remaining
portions consisted of all other cherts and those of
unknown type. The relative abundance of gravel
cherts in the bottoms suggests that most may have routinely used for hay production. All of the upland
been collected from gravel bars on the Ohio River soils are underlain by limestone bedrock.
(Angst 1998:101).
(CaC2) Carmel silty clay loam, 6 to 12 percent
slopes, eroded. Soils found on the narrow,
Soils on the Thiebaud Property
elongated ridgetops and shoulder slopes are
In general, soils on the property can be divided up classified as Carmel silty clay loam, 6 to12 percent
into two main divisions: upland and bottomland slopes, eroded. These soils formed within
Approximately 90 percent of the property lies in windblown loess and residual fragments of
upland areas and slopes, with the remaining 10 bedrock and are well suited to pasture and hay
percent in bottomland and terraces. Upland areas production. They can also be used for corn,
within the project area are mapped as Eden- soybean, grain, and tobacco cultivation if antiSwitzerland soils, which are described as erosion measures such as crop rotation and no-till
“moderately deep and deep, gently sloping to very agriculture are undertaken.
steep, well drained soils formed in a thin mantle of
loess and in the underlying clayey material (EeE2) Eden silty clay loam, 15 to 50 percent
weathered from limestone and calcareous shale” slopes, eroded. This soil is found on the edges of
(Nickell 1987). Upland soils are generally thin, ridgetops and the upper portions of slopes. The
with bedrock found relatively close to the surface soil is fairly well-suited to pasture grasses like
(Campbell 1997:162) and have been deeply fescue and orchardgrass. and hay can be grown in
leached (Lindsey et al. 1969:54). The limestone spots where the slope is less than 20 percent. The
bedrock is of the Dillsboro formation, an presence of these grasses is usually enough to
Ordovician fossiliferous limestone 300 feet thick control erosion, though overgrazing can cause
excessive surface runoff (Nickell 1987:24).
(Nickell 1987:76).
Those soils at the base of the bluff and near the Overall, the soil is not well suited to agriculture.
river are mapped as Huntington-Wheeling soils.
These soils are described by Nickell (1987) as (EdF2) Eden flaggy silt loam, 25 to 50 percent
“deep, nearly level to steep, well drained soils slopes, eroded. These soils are found on the
formed in silty and loamy alluvium.” These soils are middle portions of upland slopes. The surface layer
of Pleistocene and Holocene origin. Wheeling soils consists of about 5 inches of dark brown silt loam,
consist of Pleistocene alluvium underlain by terrace mixed with chunks of flagstone. This is underlain by
gravel, while Huntington soils comprise organic- a subsoil consisting of firm silt, clay, and slightly
rich silty alluvium of more recent origin (Nickell weathered fractured limestone. These soils are
generally unsuitable for cultivation, pasture, or hay
Specific soils within the project area conform production because of the extreme slope, erosion
closely to this division into upland versus hazard, and presence of flagstone in the surface
bottomland and terrace areas. The following soil layer. The most appropriate use for these areas is
descriptions and characterization of their agricultural woodland.
suitability are summarized from Nickell (1987).
(Dr) (ravines) Dearborn channery silt loam,
frequently flooded. Dearborn soils are located in
Upland Soils
Upland soils are within the Eden and Carmel long, narrow, and highly dissected areas adjacent
series (Figure 2). In general most of the soils within to the rapidly flowing streams that drain the
this are not well suited to agriculture, though the uplands. The surface layer is about 5 inches thick
ridgetops and less-inclined slopes could have been and consists of a dark brown silt loam with at least
15 percent “channers,” which are small, thin, flat
fragments of limestone. Areas of Dearborn soil,
though narrow, are suitable for hay and pasture
cultivation. These areas can also be used for corn
or tobacco, though frequent flooding may be a
(PaE2) Pate silt loam, 15 to 25 percent slopes,
eroded. This strongly sloping soil is found on the
foot slopes of upland areas. The surface layer
consists of a 5-inch layer of dark brown silt loam
with some clay content. Coarse fragments of
limestone are often found on the surface. Due to the
severe slope and accompanying erosion, Pate
series soils are generally unsuitable for row crops.
Though some areas are used for hay and pasture,
these soils are generally not suitable for this
Bottomland Soils
Soils found below the uplands can be classified into
two general categories: (1) those that are the result
of colluvial processes (soils formed by erosion of
materials from above) and (2) those that formed as
a result of alluvial processes (deposited on land by
water action). Pate series soils are an example of
the former, while Huntington soils fall into the latter (Hu) Huntington silt loam, occasionally flooded.
Figure 2. Map of identified soil types on the Thiebaud property (modified from Nickell 1987).
These soils are found along the Ohio River and its
larger tributaries and flooded most often in winter
and early spring. Deposits of silt and clay can
extend to depths of 80 inches or more. Huntington
soils are well-suited to corn, soybeans, hay, and
Suitability for Agricultural Production
In general, ridgetops, slight slopes, bases of
ravines, and bottomland areas would have been
suitable for longer-term agricultural production,
provided adequate measures were taken to
control erosion (Nickell 1987) (Figure 3). Apart
from the narrow bottomland/terrace (ca. 20
acres), however, none of the Thiebaud property is
considered prime farmland (Nickell 1987:95).
Suitable crops in these areas include corn,
soybeans, various grains, and tobacco. Hay and
other pasture grasses could also have been grown.
Agriculturally suitable areas encompass
approximately 45 percent of the 165 acres. This
figure, however, is based on a twentieth century
estimation of soil suitability. Nineteenth century
assessments, in the absence of modern-day soil
conservation measures, would have likely been
more liberal and it is probable that some areas
were used for agricultural production that would
not be considered suitable today. Such practices
were common prior to the advent of modern soil
conservation techniques (e.g., contour and no-till
farming) and would have resulted in significant
runoff from slopewash. Erosion is a concern in
areas with greater than two percent slopes, and
given the extreme relief found on the Thiebaud
property, this would have been a primary hazard in
any attempt at agricultural use. Rapid loss of
topsoil from overexploitation would have quickly
reduced soil productivity. Aerial photos of the
property in 1930 show that much of the ridgetops
and large portions of the slopes were denuded
(Figure 4).
Presently the vast majority of the upland areas
are in secondary forest. The relatively young age of
the trees on the property indicate that logging had
been conducted up through the relatively recent
Agricultural census data from Justi Thiebaud’s
farm indicate that in the period 1850 to 1880, the
main crops grown on the property were winter
wheat, Indian corn, potatoes, and hay. A market
garden was also planted. Livestock seem to have
been of relatively minor importance throughout this
period, though the census does indicate that
varying numbers of cattle, sheep, and pigs were
kept on the property. Hay production became an
important part of the local economy beginning in
the 1840s, and it is clear from the agricultural
census that Justi Thiebaud was a full participant in
this movement. In 1850 only six tons of hay were
produced on the farm. This jumped to 30 tons in
1857, 39 tons in 1860, and 80 tons in 1870. The
sudden jump in production suggests that the hay
press was built ca. 1855 (Baas 2003). Falling
prices for hay in the 1870s and 1880s signaled the
end of hay export in Switzerland county and the
production of only 10 tons of hay on the Thiebaud
farm in 1880 is in keeping with the declining
There is some question as to whether or not
grapes were ever cultivated by the Thiebaud
family, as neither grape nor wine production are
mentioned in the available agricultural censuses
spanning the period 1850 to 1880. In answering
this, the first question is whether or not the
Thiebaud property was suitable for grape
production. The suitability of a particular parcel of
land for grape cultivation is dependent upon a
number of factors as grapes are notoriously fickle
plants to grow successfully.
The local climate of a specific location is
influenced by the elevation, the slope, and the
aspect of the slope (i.e., the direction it is facing).
Planting on a slope is an effective means of
moderating temperature as cooler, heavier air
travels downslope and therefore prevents freezing.
Close proximity to temperature moderating bodies
of water is also important as rapid drops in
temperature in the winter and spring can damage
vines and/or fruit. Windbreaks uphill from the
vineyard can also prevent cold air from traveling
downslope. In the warmer months, heat
accumulation becomes a factor. The accumulation
of heat impacts the ability of the plant to ripen fruit
and can affect the quality of the resulting grapes.
South and west-facing slopes, such as those above
the Thiebaud house, are ideal for heat
accumulation, as they allow plants to receive direct
sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. In sum,
the area chosen for grape cultivation should neither
be too hot nor too cold.
Soils should be well-drained and slightly acidic
for most varieties of grapes (Zabadal and
Andersen 1997). Soil pH on the slopes facing the
river have been characterized as neutral to slightly
alkaline and may not have been ideal in this respect
(Nickell 1987:66). The microclimate of the
individual vine is also quite important. Factors such
the degree of sunlight exposure, daily variability in
temperature, and how long the vines remain wet
with rain or dew can determine the success or
failure of an individual plant, and plant spacing and
row orientation are crucial factors to consider in
this regard (Zabadal and Andersen 1997).
Grapevines require about 165 frost-free days in
order for fruit to mature and for the plant tissues to
become acclimated to the cold. The area around
Vevay receives approximately 172 frost-free days
in 9 out of 10 years (Nickell 1987:93) and is
therefore suited for grape growing in this respect as
Figure 3. Areas of the Thiebaud property available for agricultural production (modified from Nickell 1987).
Considering the apparent suitability of these
river-facing slopes for grape growing, it is possible
that the four terraces constructed above the press
barn and house (see below) may have been initially
intended for grape cultivation. One other
possibility is that they were constructed to control
erosion above the house and barn, a common
practice in the Switzerland County area (Leon
Hostetler, pers. comm. 2003). Though there are
no extant records to indicate that viticulture was
practiced by the Thiebaud family, the great time
and effort put into constructing terraces on the
steep slopes may indicate their use for a specialized
crop like grapes, rather than a hardy cultivar such
Figure 4. 1930 aerial photo of the Thiebaud property.
as hay or corn, that could have been grown on any
number of places on the property. If grapes were
grown by the Thiebaud family, it was given up soon
after arriving in the United States as there is no
record of such activity on the 1850 agricultural
Natural Fauna and Flora
Switzerland County and the Thiebaud property lie
within the Switzerland Hills section of the
Bluegrass Natural Region (Homoya 1997:158).
Prehistorically, this region would have been mostly
forested, though examples of glade, cliff, and
barren communities were also known. The most
distinctive natural community of the Switzerland
County region was the mesophytic forest. This
community, though not common in Indiana, is
unique in its diversity (Petty and Jackson
1966:281). In the mesophytic forest, as many as a
dozen tree species may dominate a given stand.
These species include American beech, white ash,
blue ash, sugar maple, shagbark hickory, tulip
poplar, and white and red oaks (Campbell
1997:162). Tree species such as yellow buckeye
and white basswood, that are more common in
Appalachian regions, are also occasionally found
here. Shrubs such as paw-paw, spicebush,
greenbriar, and leatherwood are also common
(Petty and Jackson 1966:282).
The culture history of the Ohio River valley spans
from the earliest known inhabitants of the
continent, ca. 10,500 B.C. to the present. Though
all cultural periods are apparently represented in
the area, our knowledge of some of these cultures
is still quite limited. In general, given the
predominance of uplands and the narrow
bottomland on the Thiebaud property, we would
expect prehistoric occupation of the immediate
area to have been ephemeral and non-intensive.
Predictive models of upland settlement suggest
that sites most often consist of small, diffuse
scatters of debris from stone tool manufacture and/
or resharpening. Archaeological materials are
generally limited to the ridgetops and bottomlands.
Denser scatters of prehistoric material might be
expected around particular features such as chert
outcrops or rockshelters (White 2001:227).
Features of this type, however, were not identified
during the survey. Data from upland region surveys
indicate that one should expect about one
prehistoric archaeological site per each 7.8 acres
surveyed (Parish and McCord 1995).
These patterns suggest that upland areas were
probably used throughout the millennia in the
context of a variety of short-duration tasks,
representing periodic, ephemeral occupations of
an area (White 2001:227). These activities include
hunting larger and small game, and gathering nuts,
berries, and a variety of other plant resources that
would have been available. Small groups or
individuals would have likely established shortterm camps in the uplands to utilize these
resources. Archaeological surveys in the immediate
area (e.g., Angst 1998) have confirmed this model
of upland settlement for the Switzerland County
vicinity as well.
Regional Prehistory
The cultural history of southern Indiana is long and
complex, extending at least 12,000 years into the
past and including a rich mosaic of prehistoric and
historic societies, cultures, and lifeways. The
record of these manifestations is equally complex.
Specific knowledge about many aspects of the
prehistory of southern Indiana is quite limited.
The following is a brief introduction to the
periods commonly used to describe cultures and
cultural changes in the Midwest in general and
within Indiana in particular. Further information is
available from numerous sources. The Paleoindian
Period of eastern North America has been
addressed in Tankersley and Isaac (1990). The
Archaic Period has been addressed by Anslinger
(1996), Collins (1979), Jefferies (1988), and
Smith and Mocas (1995) for the Louisville/Falls of
the Ohio area and by Vickery (1976) for
southwestern Ohio. General sources for the
Woodland Period include Pacheco (1996), Brose
and Greber (1979), Seeman (1979), Caldwell and
Hall (1964), and Fischer (1974). Recent efforts to
define the Late Prehistoric period occupations of
central Indiana include McCullough (2000),
McCullough and Wright (1997), Redmond and
McCullough (1993, 1995, 1997), Redmond
(1994a, 1994b), White et al. (2002), and White et
al. (2003). Griffin (1943, 1978) provides detailed
descriptive syntheses of Fort Ancient, the Late
Prehistoric cultural complex recognized in
southeastern Indiana, southwestern Ohio, and
northern Kentucky. Henderson’s (1992) volume
is also a contribution to Late Prehistoric studies of specific tasks of short duration. Given that this type
the Middle Ohio Valley, although it focuses on the of site maintains a very low archaeological profile,
Fort Ancient Tradition in Kentucky.
Paleoindian sites can be very difficult to identify
(Faulkner 1972; Jeske 1992; Justice 1987; Smith
Paleoindian Period (ca. 10,500-7,000 B.C.)
1989; Tankersley and Isaac. 1990). Most
documented Paleoindian sites in Indiana, in fact,
Currrent evidence for the peopling of the Americas consist of isolated finds of projectile points (i.e.,
prior to 10,500 B.C. is limited (Bonnichsen and “spearpoints”) (White 2001:10).
Turnmire 1999). Though the timing and
The Paleoindian tool kit was mostly used for
mechanism of the events is still not resolved, it is hunting and butchering large mammals, including
clear that the earliest inhabitants of North America now-extinct Pleistocene species such as mastodon,
were immigrants from northeastern Asia who mammoth, giant bison, native horse, dire wolf, and
arrived during the waning years of the Ice Age. Due giant ground sloth. The tool kit included wellto the presence of glacial ice masses at the end of formed projectile points, scrapers, blades, burins,
the last Ice Age and the resulting inhospitable drills, and bifaces of high quality cherts such as
environment, it is likely that migration routes into Wyandotte chert from Harrison County, Indiana.
North America followed the Alaskan and The defining artifact of the early Paleoindian period
Canadian Pacific coasts, eventually arriving at the is the fluted hafted biface. In central Indiana,
unglaciated interior. It is possible that this occurred specific point types include Clovis and Cumberland
during one or more migration events. Due to the forms (Justice 1987). These points are lanceolate
overall paucity of the earliest remains, however, it in form and exhibit concave bases, ground basal
appears that these early settlers were few.
edges, and distinctive, narrow thinning flakes or
The first archaeological culture for which we “flutes” removed from one or both faces.
In southern Indiana, most recorded Paleoindian
have an abundance of material remains is known as
Paleoindian. These people produced an efficient sites are on terraces in major river valleys,
lithic tool kit, which included fluted points. especially along the Ohio River and its major
Paleoindian points were first found in association tributaries (Dorwin 1966). Fluted points are
with the remains of mammoths and bison, giving frequently recorded in major stream valleys and in
rise to the initial notion that Paleoindians were proximity to quality chert resources, but they are
primarily or exclusively big-game hunters. only rarely found in extensive swampy lowlands or
Subsequent research, however, has revealed that rugged highlands (Seeman and Prufer 1982).
Paleoindian peoples hunted and gathered a wide Paleoindian sites have also been located near
variety of foods, including deer, small mammals, water sources like springs and sinkholes (Sieber et
and nuts (Fagan 2000). Large mammals, such as al. 1989). Recent work in Indiana has also focused
mammoth and bison, were most likely a rare or on the “chert belt” region of southern Indiana, with
seasonally taken resource. This research also particular attention paid to Wyandotte chert
indicated that Paleoindian groups were highly resources in Harrison County (Smith 1984, 1989;
mobile, traveling across large territories. Population Tankersley 1987, 1989). In addition, research by
size was small, probably consisting of no more than Tankersley and Isaac (1990) found that the highest
25 or 30 related individuals (Fitting 1965:103- frequency of Paleoindian points occurred in
104; Ritchie and Funk 1973:336). The population riparian settings or areas that overlook such
of North America by Paeloindian peoples was settings. However, Cochran et al. (1990) found
probably relatively rapid (Surovell 2000). As a that fluted point sites in north-central Indiana are
result, Paleoindian sites are often interpreted as more widely distributed across the landscape.
areas where small groups of people performed They concluded that data from the glaciated
regions of Indiana indicate that landscape use, as
well as raw material acquisition, differs significantly
from the prevailing models for the midwestern and
eastern United States. For example, their research
indicated that early Paleoindian sites throughout
the region are distributed on a variety of landforms
and that the focus was on abundant, rather than
high-quality, lithic raw material sources (Cochran
et al. 1990:156).
By the early Holocene, a climatic warming/
drying trend began to cause the grasslands and
coniferous forests to be replaced by mixed,
deciduous forests, affecting both plant and animal
species used by prehistoric populations. In
response, people began exploiting a wider range of
subsistence resources. These changes in
subsistence and settlement strategies, first
occurring approximately 10,000 years ago, mark
the beginning of the Archaic period.
Early Archaic (ca. 7,000-6,000 B.C.)
The Archaic is defined here as a temporal period
extending from 10,000 to 3000 BP (about 8000 to
1000 B.C.). Broadly, the Archaic encompasses a
period of increasing population density, decreasing
mobility, and the appearance of social structures
that reach their most pronounced expression in the
later Woodland and Mississippian periods. The
Archaic is usually partitioned into Early, Middle,
and Late subdivisions. These subdivisions
correspond to very generalized trends within the
Archaic period, and are used here to broadly
classify and discuss contemporary societies (i.e.,
these subdivisions pertain to temporal periods
rather than cultural stages). Many researchers
assign Archaic archaeological manifestations to
one of these three sub-periods based on a variety
of technological, social, subsistence, and settlement
criteria in addition to temporal criteria.
The Early Archaic is separated from the
preceding Paleoindian period primarily by the final
retreat of the Wisconsinan glaciation and by the
conspicuous lack of fluted points. The period
encompasses a period of broad technological,
social, and subsistence change following the last
Pleistocene glaciation. Early Archaic hafted biface
types, like some Paleoindian hafted biface types,
occur over large areas of eastern North America,
suggesting large territories and significant seasonal
mobility. Most sites dating to the Early Archaic
period in Indiana are small lithic scatters.
Large spear points or knives with beveled
edges and deep corner notches are found at Early
Archaic sites, as are smaller points with bifurcate
bases. The addition of sandstone abraders and
mortars to the tool kit also suggests that vegetal
foods were becoming a more substantial part of the
diet. Overall, Early Archaic settlement patterns
reflect broad-spectrum hunting and gathering
subsistence strategies, and the greater frequency
of Early Archaic components may reflect a more
significant population (Baltz et al. 2000:9-11).
Sites from this time period are fairly common, with
the same general geographic distribution seen
during the preceding period (Springer 1985; Jeske
1992). As noted by Munson (1986:280), Early
Archaic sites are distributed across the landscape,
yet seem to be concentrated nowhere. They are,
however, small in size, reflecting the highly mobile
nature of the occupants and the ephemeral nature
of each individual occupation (White 2001:11).
Stafford’s (1994:232) analysis of Early Archaic
period mobility suggests that small bands of
individuals utilized a “pattern involving fine-grained
patch-to-patch movement through multiple basins
by procuring resources on an encounter basis as
associated with foragers.” In other words, it is
believed that Early Archaic peoples in southern
Indiana and elsewhere searched widely across the
landscape in search of faunal, floral, and raw
material resources that were found in particular
locales (or “patches”). Home territories seem to
have covered multiple drainages, suggesting that
groups never remained in one place for a long
period of time and that population density was such
that these groups could freely move across the
landscape without much danger of infringing on
neighboring group’s territories.
Middle Archaic (Ca. 6,000-3,000 B.C.)
The Middle Archaic is seen as a time of increasing
regionalization as a result of increasing sedentism
and decreased home territory size (White
2001:11). During the Middle Archaic, a long-term
warming and drying trend, called the Hypsithermal
Interval, reached its peak. Previously pinedominated forests were replaced by deciduous
forests dominated by oak, hickory, and elm, all
species that were more productive for human use.
Oak savanna also appeared in some portions of
eastern and northern Indiana (Hicks 1992). In
addition, all of the major rivers of the region and
their associated floodplains were established by
this time. Due to the availability of these rich
resources, people settled along these waterways
into larger, more permanent villages. Foods
utilized during the Middle Archaic include deer,
small mammals, fish, migratory waterfowl, and a
wide variety of nuts. Large shell middens are also
known from the southeastern United States,
including southern Indiana. These sites, which are
the result of long term utilization of river mussels as
a food source, are commonly located along major
river drainages, including the Ohio River (Janzen
1977; Kellar 1983; Sieber et al. 1989).
Settlement patterning seems to have been one
of scheduled fission/fusion, based on the
availability of resources at a particular time in the
yearly cycle. Populations were often on the move,
with a pattern of congregation into larger base
camps, accompanied by fissioning into smaller
groups. These smaller camps would have been
established to exploit seasonally available or
localized resources (White 2001:12). In terms of
the plant foods utilized by Middle Archaic groups,
it appears that a pattern of more intensive utilization
begins to take hold. Gourds may have been
harvested and/or cultivated during this period,
initially for use as containers and only later as food.
The presence of large quantities of fire-cracked
rock and charred nutshell suggests the use of hot
stones to boil water for nut processing and
extraction of nut oils (Munson 1986). In the
absence of ceramics, boiling likely took place in
hide-lined pits.
Overall, the material remains of Middle
Archaic culture reflect an increasingly sophisticated
technology adapted to the intensive exploitation of
forest and riverine biomes. Middle Archaic
projectile points tend to be small with side notches
and straight bases. T-shaped drills are common,
and there is an increase in ground and polished
stone tools, full-grooved axes, pendants, and
winged and cylindrical bannerstones used as
weights for spearthrowers (also known as atlatls)
(Jeske 1992; Baltz et al. 2000:11).
Late Archaic (ca. 3,000-1,500 B.C.)
The Late Archaic is a period in which a number of
trends first evident earlier, such as increased
population density and decreased mobility,
continue and intensify. This period is well
represented in southern Indiana, with numerous
village and mortuary sites reported. Typical lithic
artifact styles include long spear points with square
bases and smaller points with stemmed bases.
Ground and polished stone artifacts, such as
bannerstones, are also found during the Late
Archaic. A widespread trade network, involving
both finished products and such raw materials as
galena, copper, and marine shell, also was
developed. These traded materials, which were
often deposited in burials, provide evidence of
more elaborate mortuary ceremonialism than seen
Resources utilized during the Late Archaic
include all those mentioned for the Middle Archaic,
with an increasing utilization of seed plants such as
goosefoot and sumpweed; plants that we now
consider weeds. Initial archaeological evidence for
the domestication of a number of native plants
begins during the latter portion of the Late Archaic
(Smith 1992). Though plants such as squash,
goosefoot, sumpweed, and sunflower undoubtedly
underwent morphological changes related to
human activities, there is little evidence that this
process of domestication took place as a result of
rituals (Jeske 1992; Dragoo 1976; Griffin 1978).
Early Woodland ceramics are thick with plain to
textured surfaces and are tempered with grit (i.e.,
crushed rock). Vessels have either conical or flat
bases, with an overall shape similar to that of the
common flower pot. Local variations include such
types as Adena, Early Crab Orchard, and Marion/
Fayette Thick. Diagnostic Early Woodland
projectile points include large, well-made
contracting stem points, such as the Adena type.
Although hunting and gathering continued as
both a subsistence strategy and a seasonal lifeway,
plants that occurred naturally in the environment,
such as chenopodium, marsh elder, canary grass,
and sunflower, were cultivated for both food and
fiber (Yarnell 1964). Other imported cultigens,
such as squash, pumpkin, and gourds, also
appeared (Dragoo 1976). These cultivated plants
became an increasingly important dietary staple of
Early Woodland peoples. As this horticultural
base improved, settlements became increasingly
sedentary, supporting larger populations and more
complex societies (Jeske 1992; Baltz et al.
2000:13). At some Early Woodland sites,
especially of the early Adena culture in Ohio, large
burial mounds and earthworks were constructed,
Early Woodland (ca. 1,500 -200 B.C.)
representing a substantial increase from the
A diverse range of cultural expressions are preceding Late Archaic period.
included under the term “Woodland.” Very
general defining trends or adaptations of the Middle Woodland (ca. 200 B.C.-A.D. 400)
Woodland Period include a hunter-gatherer
subsistence pattern augmented by an increase in The Middle Woodland period represents a time of
horticulture (eventually including the production of complex sociocultural integration across regional
true cultigens), the first manufacture and use of boundaries via networks of trade. The period is
pottery for food preparation and storage, the characterized by elaborate geometric earthworks,
production and use of a larger stone tool kit, and enclosures, and mounds that are often associated
the rise of elaborate burial practices, including the with multiple burials containing a wide array of
construction of earthen burial mounds. The exotic ceremonial goods. The Middle Woodland
Woodland is subdivided into Early, Middle, and also is noted for the establishment of the Hopewell
“interaction sphere”: artifacts and raw materials
Late periods.
The Early Woodland period often has been such as obsidian and grizzly bear teeth from the
distinguished from the Archaic period by the use of Rocky Mountains, copper from northern
pottery, a dramatic increase in the reliance on Michigan, mica and quartz from the Appalachians,
domesticated plant foods, and an increasing shark teeth, pearls, and marine shells from the Gulf
elaboration of ceremonial exchange and mortuary of Mexico, and a wide variety of cherts were
deliberate manipulation of these plants by humans.
Rather, the process likely began when seeds of
desirable plants were scattered about in order to
encourage greater yield. Indirect selection for
larger seeds by humans then set into motion
morphological changes in seed size and other plant
structures that ultimately led to archaeologically
visible signs of domestication (Smith 1992:288).
Intensification in the use of wild plant and animal
resources is also evident in the Late Archaic.
Settlement patterns changed appreciably
from the preceding Middle Archaic period. Late
Archaic sites tend to be larger and to contain more
tools and debris than sites of any preceding time
period. Perhaps due to increased population,
groups tended to settle in a broad range of
environmental locales, not focusing only upon the
major river valleys as before. It is during the Late
Archaic that we see larger occupations in so-called
“second tier” locales, such as upland areas. Sites
are usually located on well-drained soils near
water. Occupation debris is often dense, and
subsurface contexts exist at many of these sites
(Baltz et al. 2000:12; Jeske 1992; White 2001).
exchanged throughout most of the eastern United
States. Major centers for these activities were the
Scioto River valley in south-central Ohio and the
Illinois River valley in west-central Illinois. The
Mann site, in Posey County, Indiana, represents a
major Middle Woodland habitation and ceremonial
site on the Ohio River. This site extends for more
than a half mile along a high terrace above the Ohio
River and contains at least sixteen burial mounds
and earthworks. The largest of these is a nearly
rectangular earthen enclosure about 2,000 ft in
length. A second, square enclosure, 1000 ft on a
side, is found to the north. The largest mound on
the site is about 300 ft long and nearly 12 ft high
(Kellar 1983:45-46). A variety of imported items
from across the continent have been found at the
Mann site, indicating extensive trade along the
Ohio River and its tributaries.
Subsistence activities also changed, with
horticulture becoming a major supplement to the
hunting-gathering lifestyle. Although domesticated
maize was added to the agricultural complex
during this period, it does not appear to have been
an important part of the diet until much later.
Goosefoot, sumpweed, and sunflower, however,
were actively cultivated for their starchy and oily
seeds. Overall, populations continued to grow,
and there is evidence that semipermanent
settlements were located around nuclear ceremonial
centers. Diagnostics of the period include Snyders
points (Justice 1987), prismatic blades, and
ungrooved axes or celts. Pottery tended to be
better made and was decorated more often than in
the Early Woodland period. Smoothed, or plain,
cordmarked, and/or stamped-design surfaces are
found, and grit tempering continues, along with grit,
grog, sand, and/or limestone tempering (Jeske
1992; Baltz et al. 2000:14-15).
networks. The Hopewell interaction sphere was
no longer active, and there was a general return to
the use of local resources for tool manufacture.
Relatively isolated regional development become
more widespread, and Late Woodland village
occupations often consist of a number of house
structures around a circular plaza. Burials lack the
ritualism associated with earlier cultures, and
bodies often were interred in natural knolls or
placed as intrusive burials into existing mounds.
Grave goods were few.
Although maize appears to have been grown
throughout the Late Woodland, intensive
agriculture and dependance on maize becomes
important only after A.D. 1000. As a result,
regional subsistence patterns continued to include
hunting and gathering. Most settlements are found
along river and stream bottoms. Settlement size
varied widely, though there appears to be an
overall trend toward greater population aggregation
through time. Ceramics from the period were
generally well-made, undecorated, utilitarian, grittempered, cordmarked vessels. Though not
glamorous, these vessels served their purpose
well. The bow and arrow was also introduced
during this time, and small, triangular, unnotched
arrow points become the common projectile point
type (Jeske 1992; Baltz et al. 2000:15).
Late Prehistoric (ca. A.D. 1000-1550)
In very general terms, the last 600 years prior to
European intrusion into southern Indiana can be
described as a period during which prehistoric
peoples: 1) completed a shift to a largely
sedentary, agricultural way of life; 2) followed a
nucleated pattern of settlement that centered
around villages or towns; and 3) established some
level of ranked socio-economic organization.
Late Woodland (ca. A.D. 400-1000)
Several Late Prehistoric cultural manifestations
have been recognized in central and southern
The Late Woodland period is a time of apparent Indiana (Figure 5). Switzerland County is situated
breakdown or abandonment of elaborate at or near the borders of these different groups.
mortuary ceremonialism and extensive trade
The most widely recognized Late Prehistoric
tradition in central Indiana is the Oliver Phase (ca.
AD 1200-1450) (McCullough 2000; Redmond
and McCullough 1997). Known Oliver sites are
most commonly found on the floodplains of major
drainages and include evidence of permanent
residential and defensive structures as well as pit
features. Oliver Phase peoples were sedentary or
semi-sedentary maize agriculturalists who also
exploited a wide range of wild resources
(McCullough and Wright 1997; Redmond and
McCullough 1993, 1995; Redmond 1994a,
1994b). Perhaps the defining material characteristic
of the Oliver phase tradition is pottery that exhibits
a coalescence of Late Woodland and Fort Ancient
ceramic characteristics (McCullough 2000).
Mississippian is a term used to describe
prehistoric groups that lived in ranked societies
with a highly organized subsistence economy and
a chiefdom-based political economy. Within
Mississippian chiefdom polities, settlement
hierarchies were established. Settlements included
dispersed farmsteads and hamlets, small villages
made up of several hamlets, and dense population
concentrations nucleated in and around large
villages and towns. Individuals of elite rank are
believed to have exerted some level of control over
the production and distribution of surplus
subsistence goods. Mississippian food economies
were centered around maize agriculture, hunting,
and fishing.
Large earthen mounds were constructed at
larger Misssissippian sites, not only for burials as in
previous periods, but also to serve as platforms for
ceremonial buildings. The Angel Mounds site
located east of Evansville, Indiana, is an example of
a large Mississippian town with monumental
architecture. A number of large platform-shaped
mounds were built at the site, upon which were
religious structures and the dwellings of town
leaders (Black 1967). A second Mississippian
presence in Indiana, the Prather Complex, was
centered on the Falls of the Ohio region. However,
virtually nothing is known about the spatial extent,
time depth, or material culture of Prather Complex
sites, beyond the fact that they share a general
affinity to Mississippian cultures elsewhere.
Research over a broad geographic area shows that
the Prather Complex represents the northeastern
limit of Mississippian culture in the Ohio Valley and
is also situated near the southwestern limit of the
Fort Ancient culture. Given the near absence of
data, the Prather Complex Mississippian is
presently an enigma of considerable importance in
understanding the cultural dynamics of the Late
Prehistoric period.
Within the Mississippian tradition as a whole,
triangular projectile points (Justice 1987) and
pecked and ground stone tools continued to
dominate the lithic tool assemblage. Bone,
hematite, catlinite, and coal were also commonly
worked into a variety of tool forms. The
abundance of ceramics at Mississippian sites
reflects their importance within an agricultural food
economy. A large variety of ceramic vessel forms,
both utilitarian and ceremonial, was produced,
including salt pans, storage and cooking jars,
bottles, beakers, plates, bowls, and a range of
human and animal effigy forms. Mississippian
ceramics were most often tempered with crushed
freshwater mussel shell.
An extensive, highly organized exchange
network linked Mississippian societies of Indiana
with those as far west as Oklahoma and as far
southeast as Georgia and Florida. It has long been
assumed that elites controlled the trade and
distribution of exotic raw materials and finished
goods, especially those items that are believed to
have served as displays of prestige. However, the
recovery of such luxury, or “display,” items from a
wide range of site types and contexts suggests that
distribution and use of these goods was not
exclusively controlled by elites (Muller 1997:46).
Fort Ancient
Fort Ancient can be characterized as a Late
Prehistoric cultural manifestation found in the
central Ohio Valley from extreme southwestern
Indiana and adjacent parts of Kentucky to eastern
West Virginia. Sites encompass the time period
A.D. 1000/1100 to 1650/1750 (Drooker
1997:47-48). Early Fort Ancient settlements in the
middle Ohio River valley are similar in size and
intensity of occupation to terminal Late Woodland
sites in the same region, thus suggesting the
continuation of an apparent family/hamlet form of
social organization (Pollack and Henderson
1992:284). Throughout the Late Prehistoric
period, Fort Ancient settlement became increasingly
nucleated into larger, more long-term village
settlements with a ranked form of social
organization. Villages were often circular and
centered around central plazas (Drooker
1997:48). Subsistence was heavily focused on the
cultivation of maize, beans, and squash. Smaller
seasonal (e.g., winter, hunting, or salt processing)
camps were established outside of village
settlements for the collection of resources that
were not available locally.
The Fort Ancient stone tool kit incorporated a
variety of chipped, battered, and ground stone
tools, many of which were typical of Late
Prehistoric lithic inventories throughout the eastern
Figure 5. Location of Late Prehistoric cultural manifestations in the Ohio River valley.
United States. Different triangular point styles may
be temporal indicators at Fort Ancient sites (Railey
1992). It has been suggested that the chipped
stone tool inventory expanded during the late Fort
Ancient (after A.D. 1400), although there are no
empirical data yet to support this claim (Railey
Much regional variation, mainly related to
stylistic differences, existed among early Fort
Ancient ceramic assemblages. However, during
the latter part of the period (after A.D. 1400),
ceramics from throughout the Fort Ancient area
developed many major similarities. Large, bulbous
ceramic jars with wide mouths and rounded bases
are the forms represented most frequently at Fort
Ancient sites. Typical ceramic surface treatments,
when present, include body cordmarking and
smoothing; decoration of the neck/rim/lip areas
includes incising, stamping, and punctating (Griffin
1943). Most Fort Ancient ceramic types are gritand/or shell-tempered.
Fort Ancient social and political organization
did not reach the level of complexity of the
Mississippian chiefdoms. According to the
interpretations of Pollack and Henderson
(1992:286), social ranking throughout the Fort
Ancient period did not transcend the community
level, as opposed to the within- and betweencommunity (regional) hierarchical system proposed
for Mississippian chiefdoms. Burial mounds were
built during the earlier portion of the Fort Ancient
sequence, up to circa A.D. 1300. Thereafter,
burials were most often placed within the village
itself (Drooker 1997:48). A diverse assortment of
grave goods has been associated with late Fort
Ancient burials (e.g., ceramic vessels, projectile
points, exotic marine shell beads and gorgets). As
with Mississippian exotic goods, the distribution of
these items indicates that they are not exclusively
status-related; rather, they may also have
functioned as emblems of within- and betweencommunity alliances (Pollack and Henderson
Non-local items in Fort Ancient burials also
provide evidence of long-distance communication
and exchange networks. Artifact assemblages at
late Fort Ancient sites suggest that, by AD 1400,
trade relations were established between Fort
Ancient groups and Mississippian groups to the
south, southeast, and west. Increased interaction
with Mississippian polities through intensified trade
not only led to the incorporation of new items of
material culture into late Fort Ancient life, but also
undoubtedly introduced various aspects of
Mississippian ideology, religion, and social
organization to Fort Ancient culture.
The Protohistoric period
Prior to the sixteenth century, Indiana was
populated by a variety of native groups subsisting
on hunting, gathering, and agriculture. During the
period from A.D. 1400 to 1700, archaeologists
have noted increasing evidence for social instability
(Brose et al. 2000). Evidence for widespread
population movements, subsistence shifts, and
warfare in the form of palisaded or enclosed
settlements, as well as increasing skeletal trauma in
late prehistoric burials, is present throughout the
upper Midwest and has often been attributed to
climatic changes or diseases (Emerson 1999;
McCullough 2000; Brown and Sasso 2001:224).
Indiana lies in the path of many of these late
prehistoric and protohistoric population dispersals
and holds the potential for archaeological sites that
may shed light on the increasing instability.
In contrast to the early exploration of the East
Coast and the Great Lakes region, Euroamerican
eyewitness accounts of the central Ohio valley are
virtually nonexistent until the middle of the 18th
century. In addition, unlike areas such as the
Iroquois of New York, there is no clear
prehistoric/historic continuity in Native American
occupation within the Ohio Valley, making it
extremely difficult to link Late Prehistoric
archaeological sites and cultures with identifiable
historic period groups or “tribes.” Although the
earliest historic records tentatively identify the
Miami, Illinois, and Shawnee groups within the
greater Indiana/Ohio area, these early identifications
have yet to be confirmed archaeologically. During
the mid-1600s, the Iroquois created vast
population movements when they warred on tribes
as far west as Illinois in an attempt to control the fur
trade. Current evidence suggests that the Miami
arrived in the area now Indiana from the north
during the latter half of the seventeenth century
after the Iroquois wars, the Potawatomi entered
early in the eighteenth century, and the Delaware in
the late 1700s. The Shawnee, Wea, Wyandot,
Kickapoo, and Piankeshaw migrated into the
region as well. Upon the arrival of Europeans, the
Miami, Delaware, and Shawnee were all
represented in the region, remaining until shortly
after the War of 1812 (Baltz et al. 2000:16-17).
The early Historic period history of the central
Ohio River valley has been summarized by
Drooker (1997:63-64).
The earliest Euroamerican account of the
central Ohio River valley dates to 1674, when an
English trader was captured by Indians. It appears
that he was taken to the Kanawha/Ohio River
confluence area, near the present Ohio-West
Virginia border. French maps from the 17th
century provide names of groups living in the
central Ohio Valley, as well, though these locations
were probably based on second-hand information.
The French were the first to explore the interior.
Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle set out in 1669
to search for a passage the Pacific Ocean as well
as a river route to the Gulf of Mexico. De la Salle
also sought to solidify relations with the Great
Lakes tribes, expand the fur trade, and subvert the
growing power of the Iroquois confederacy
(Nassaney et al. 2003:109). The details of his
travels, however, are shrouded in obscurity and it
is uncertain whether or not he reached the
Mississippi or Ohio Rivers. Nonetheless,
information that filtered in from Native Americans
visiting European settlements suggested that a
great number of villages were to be found in the
Ohio valley. One group described in many
documents is the “Chaouanons” (Shawnee).
The earliest firsthand accounts and reliable
maps of the Ohio River valley were the result of a
1739 expedition by Charles Le Moyne de
Longueuil, who traveled from Lake Chatauqua,
New York, to the Mississippi River. Another
expedition was undertaken by Pierre Joseph
Celoron de Blainville who traveled down the Ohio
as far as the Great Miami River, near present day
Cincinnati. By the early 1700s, dozens of French
voyageurs arrived in the Ohio River valley to take
up the fur trade with the Native American villages
clustered along the Wabash River and its
tributaries. In order to maintain open communication
between Lake Erie and the Mississippi River, the
French constructed numerous forts along the
Wabash-Maumee line. These forts were the first
permanent European settlements in Indiana (Baltz
et al. 2000:17). By the mid-18th century a
European trading post was established at the
confluence of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers. Among
the groups living in the area were Delaware,
Shawnee, and Seneca. The Shawnees, at least,
had migrated from Pennsylvania, though it is likely
their arrival in Ohio represented a return from areas
that they had been driven from in previous
Little, however, is known about Native
occupation within the 250 year period from initial
European/Native contact to the first European
exploration of the region. Archaeological
investigations have identified a complex of Fort
Ancient related sites, termed the “Madisonville
Horizon” that span this period (ca. A.D. 14501650). Such sites are identified by the presence of
distinctive ceramics and often by the presence of
European trade goods. Most or all of these goods
were likely indirectly acquired by native groups via
down-the-line trading, as Europeans had not yet
established a formal, permanent presence in the
region. Madisonville Horizon sites are found
primarily in the Ohio River valley proper, centered
on a point slightly upstream from present day
Cincinnati (Drooker 1997:70). European trade
goods such as glass beads, copper kettles and
ornaments, and gunflints are reported from various
sites (Drooker 1997:96-97). The ethnic affiliation
of these people is still debated. A general
Algonquin or Shawnee affiliation seems probable,
though the Illini and Susquehannock have also
been suggested (Drooker 1997:104). It is also
possible that what archaeologists call Fort Ancient
and Madisonville may actually represent multiple
ethnic groups.
By the mid-eighteenth century, expansionist
pressure from the English colonies on the Atlantic
coast and the interest of the British in controlling the
fur trade led to conflict over the established French
presence within the region. These conflicts
culminated in the French and Indian War (17541763), which ended in French defeat and the
surrender of their claims on the midcontinent to the
British in the Treaty of Paris. Although the British
were nominally in control, Native American
resistance to the British presence continued. In an
attempt to mitigate Native American discontent,
the British issued a royal decree forbidding white
settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Enforcement of this proclamation proved
impossible, and tensions with indigenous groups
continued to escalate. As a result, the English did
not truly establish control of the region until after the
suppression of Pontiac’s Rebellion in August of
1764. Nevertheless, the English failed to maintain
their military conquest, and at the outbreak of the
American Revolution, there was no English
garrison manned in all of Indiana (Baltz et al.
In 1776, however, the English dispatched
garrisons to the region with explicit orders to incite
Native American attacks on American frontier
settlements. The next year became known as the
“bloody year,” and, in response, American militia
officer George Rogers Clark conducted a series of
campaigns against the British forts. Although
formal British power within the region was broken
by a decisive American victory at Vincennes on
February 25, 1779, a minor battle of the American
Revolution was fought in the Duneland area on
December 5, 1780. Now known as the Battle of
the Dunes, this encounter took place when a
detachment of sixteen French irregulars were
overtaken by a pursuing band of fur traders and
Native Americans. The Frenchmen had just
finished looting the British outpost at Fort St.
Joseph near present-day Niles, Michigan, and
were hurrying toward Petite Fort, which was then
in American hands. During the battle that followed,
four of the French irregulars were killed, two were
wounded, and seven were taken prisoner. The
battle is believed to have taken place somewhere
near the center of Indiana Dunes State Park (Drury
1956:7; Baltz et al. 2000:17-18).
Following the Revolution, the Federal Land
Ordinance established the method by which nearly
all lands in the Northwest Territory were surveyed,
and the sale of large tracts of land was begun. The
Indiana Territory, with Vincennes as its capitol,
was established in 1800. In 1804, a land office was
established at Vincennes, and in 1809 the Treaty of
Fort Wayne opened up the southern third of
Indiana to legal American settlement. The
Thiebaud family was part of this rapid expansion of
Euroamerican settlement into the Ohio Valley
following the Revolutionary War. Following this
treaty, members of the Shawnee, Wyandot,
Potawatomi, and other tribes gathered at
Prophet’s Town on the north bank of the Wabash
River. Their resistance to white encroachment was
organized by the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and
aided by a cultural revitalization movement led by
his half-brother Tenskwatawa, known as the
Prophet. In 1811, Tecumseh traveled throughout
the midsouth attempting to enlist southern tribes in
a united native opposition to American expansion.
While Tecumseh was gone, however, Willliam
Henry Harrison seized the opportunity to attack
Prophet’s Town on November 7, 1811. Known
as the Battle of Tippecanoe, American forces
routed the Native Americans and destroyed
Prophet’s Town, but Native American resistance
continued through the War of 1812. The British
defeat at the Battle of Thames in 1813, however,
reopened most of the remainder of the Old
Northwest to American settlement, and a treaty
signed in 1818 by representatives of the Delaware,
Miami, Wea, and Potawatomi surrendered Native
American title to approximately 8 million acres of
land. Known as the “New Purchase,” this area
included most of what is now central Indiana
(Green and Munson 1978; Baltz et al. 2000:1819). By the time the Thiebaud family arrived in the
United States, the threat of Indian attack in the
Switzerland County area would have been
Euroamerican settlements were well
established in the Ohio River valley by the early
nineteenth century, with emphasis on agricultural
production. Throughout the history of the region,
the Ohio River necessarily played an important
role as a transportation corridor for both
agricultural produce and, later, industrial goods.
Numerous works have been written about
Euroamerican settlement in Indiana and its
subsequent economic, social, and political
ramifications (cf. Madison 1986; Sieber et al.
1989; Thompson 1932) and numerous other
resources are available on the history of
Switzerland County (Dufour 1925; Historic
Landmarks Foundation of Indiana 1980; Knox
1942, 1948; Taylor and McBirney 1996:595599; Windmill Publications 1993 [1885]).
Switzerland County was first opened up to
legal white settlement following the treaty of
Greenville in 1795. The first Euroamerican settler
in what was to become Switzerland County was
Heathcoat Pickett, who, in 1795, built a cabin near
the mouth of Plum Creek. Pickett became involved
with trafficking goods down the Ohio River to
New Orleans. Another early settler, George Ash,
was granted land in Indiana opposite the mouth of
the Kentucky River. It was at the spot, in 1798,
that he built the first brick house in Switzerland
The Swiss presence in the county began in
1802 when Joseph Dufour and a group of
investors were granted 2500 acres on the Indiana
side of the Ohio River by an act of the U.S.
Congress. Their express purpose was the
establishment of vineyards for the production of
wine. They purchased an additional 1200 acres
and called their settlement New Switzerland. By
1813, each of the families had a house, surrounded
by vineyards and pastures. At its height, wine
production in Switzerland County reached an
annual total of 12,000 gallons. Also in 1813, the
town of Vevay was platted, with the first houses
built the following year. The town grew quickly and
by 1817, a total of eighty four houses, a
courthouse, jail, taverns, a printing office, and
other businesses had been built. Switzerland
County was established in 1814, with Vevay as the
county seat. The population grew rapidly, doubling
from 900 in 1812 to 1,832 in 1816 (Taylor and
McBirney 1996:596-597). Among the early
settlers were also Scottish and Dutch immigrants,
as well as Americans from New England and New
York (Historic Landmarks Foundation 1980:6).
Though wine production was the initial impetus
for Euroamerican settlement, production gradually
declined after the first generation of Swiss passed
on, as wine consumption was not popular in the
United States. As cultivation of corn and potatoes
was less labor intensive and more profitable, these
became the staple agricultural products of the
region. Swiss immigration to the county ceased as
well. In time, the county became a typical
midwestern agricultural community (Taylor or
McBirney 1996:598). Small-scale manufacturing
businesses such as flour mills, sawmills, coopers,
and carriage makers were located in the towns or
nearby. In the mid to late nineteenth century, hay,
onions, potatoes, and wheat were the primary
cultivars. Much of the agricultural production
during this period was devoted to downriver
export via flatboats. (Historic Landmarks
Foundation 1980:6).
Though over 400 archaeological sites have been
recorded in Switzerland County, compared to
some other areas of the state, the prehistory of the
region is poorly understood. While a great number
of sites are known in the Egypt and Mexico
Bottoms to the north of Vevay, prehistoric
utilization of the uplands of southeastern Indiana
and elsewhere in the Midwest is not well
understood (Angst 1998:101; White et al.
2001:235). This is primarily due to a lack of more
spectacular sites in the uplands, compared to those
found on the wide floodplains of the Ohio River
(e.g., the Angel site, near Evansville). As
bottomlands are known to have relatively higher
site densities (White 2001:17), upland areas have
not been given the attention that they likely
deserve. The lack of professional attention to these
zones is not, however, due to their not having been
utilized in prehistory. It is likely that the uplands
played a significant part in the yearly hunting and
collecting regimen of various groups throughout
prehistory. Heavily dissected uplands, such as
those found in the project area, would not have
ordinarily been used for large-scale habitation in
most time periods, however, due to a lack of wide,
flat space and a constant supply of fresh water.
Rather, they would have been a valuable source of
game, nuts, and other resources, and would have
been extensively utilized on a more short-term or
seasonal basis (White et al. 2001:235).
Previous studies suggest that use of the
dissected uplands would have been greatest during
the Archaic period (7,000-1500 B.C.) (Munson
1980:758-759; Sieber et al. 1989:126; Stafford
1994; White et al. 2001:235). The apparent high
mobility of foraging groups during the Archaic
period (early on, especially) would have brought
peoples into the uplands in search of small patches
of usable resources (e.g., nuts, berries, chert, etc.).
When these were used up, people likely moved on.
This pattern of upland utilization would result in
many archaeological sites, none of which,
however, with evidence for substantial, long-term
occupation (Stafford 1994).
The various geomorphic zones within the
dissected uplands would have been utilized
differentially. White et al.’s (2001:227)) study of
over 400 acres of dissected upland within the
Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in Martin
and Greene counties, Indiana, suggests that sites
on the ridgetops typically consist of diffuse scatters
of chipped stone material, likely the result of shortterm use over a period of centuries or millennia.
Denser concentrations of materials might be
expected in areas with immobile, renewable
resources, such as springs and chert outcrops.
Though few or no sites are expected on slopes with
a greater than 10 percent gradient, sites may be
located at the slope/terrace interface. The most
likely zone in which to find signs of more substantial
prehistoric occupation is on the terrace/
bottomland. As the terrace and bottoms are quite
narrow in the vicinity of the Thiebaud property, the
likelihood for abundant prehistoric remains is less
than in some other areas of Switzerland County.
The Patriot I (12 Sw 89) and Patriot II (12 Sw
99) sites are the most well known prehistoric
archaeological sites in Switzerland County. Both
sites, which were extensively excavated in 1982
(GAI Consultants 1984), are located in the wide
bottomlands to the north of Vevay. Patriot I
revealed a Middle to Late Archaic occupation
consisting of a large number of features (e.g.,
storage, processing, and cooking pits) and “hafted
biface” forms.1 A thin, Early Archaic midden was
located below this. At Patriot II, a substantial
Middle to Late Archaic midden was excavated,
again producing a wealth of artifacts and features.
Hafted bifaces were mostly of the McWhinney
Heavy Stemmed variety, which are thought to date
from 4000 to 1000 B.C. (Justice 1987:139).
Archaeological investigations carried out in
advance of the Belterra casino construction
revealed an occupation similar to that found at
Patriot I (White 2001). The Webster site (12 Sw
351) is located near the edge of the terrace
overlooking the river floodplain. Surface materials
included a thick scatter of lithics and fire-cracked
rock, spread out of a long narrow zone. Most of
the hafted bifaces were of the Riverton, Lamoka,
and McWhinney Heavy Stemmed varieties,
suggesting that the site was utilized primarily during
the Late Archaic (Justice 1987), though
Woodland period materials were identified as
well. Excavations revealed a limited subsurface
midden deposit, however, indicating that though
the site was utilized over a long period of time, none
of these occupations were of long duration. It is
possible that the site represents a short-term
temporary camp that was revisited many times
(White 2001).
Other sites in the area include 12-Sw-36,
which was identified in the vicinity of the Markland
Dam. The site, which is one of the largest recorded
in the bottoms of Switzerland County, is reportedly
13.3 acres in size and covers approximately 0.5
miles of river bend and high floodplain (Baltz
1987). Limited investigations produced a thin
scatter of artifacts, including a hammerstone, mano
fragment, and two Woodland period ceramic
sherds. No well-defined cultural strata were
identified, suggesting an ephemeral occupation,
one however, of considerable extent (White
Other sites of interest in the Switzerland
County area include 12-Sw-54. This site, which
was on a terrace overlooking the river, was
reportedly a mound of Native American
construction. The mound was destroyed in the
1960s, however, during land leveling operations.
State site files do not report the presence of cultural
material and so, its cultural affiliation remains
uncertain. Artifacts reported from site 12-Sw-55,
which was located nearby, include a triangular
arrowpoint and Woodland period ceramics,
confirming the prehistoric presence of Woodland
peoples in the Switzerland County area.
Archaeological survey has been conducted in
a number of areas in and around Vevay as well
(e.g., Beard 1993; Cantin et al. 2000; Cochran
2001; Stillwell 1999, 2000; Zoll 1992). These
surveys confirm Native American use of the area
from Early Archaic through Late Prehistoric times.
Though most prehistoric sites in the vicinity likely
represent ephemeral occupations of the uplands
and bottomland/terrace, one site (12-Sw-226)
may indicate a more intensive occupation. This
site, which is located at the base of the bluffs
approximately 0.4 miles east of Indian Creek
produced at least 120 pieces of lithic debitage on
the surface, as well as large amounts of fire-
cracked rock, which may represent the remains of
a more intensive occupation. A Late Prehistoric
triangular projectile point was identified from the
site, suggesting an occupation spanning
approximately A.D. 1000 - 1500 (Justice 1987).
The absence of ceramics at 12-Sw-226, however,
may indicate that the site was never occupied for
extended periods of time and may therefore
represent a temporary seasonal campsite used
over multiple years.
One recent study of upland areas in the
immediate vicinity of the Thiebaud property has
confirmed the models of upland utilization that have
been forwarded (Angst 1998). Archaeological
survey conducted in association with the repair and
rehabilitation of 12 miles of State Road 129
between Vevay and Pleasant, Indiana, resulted in
the identification of 44 previously unrecorded
prehistoric sites. Of these sites, three were
identified as Early Archaic, one Middle Archaic,
one Late Archaic, and two were possibly
Woodland in age (Angst 1998:101). Items
recovered from nearly all of the sites were few, and
consisted of isolated artifacts such as flakes. Such
patterns confirm models which suggest that upland
areas were used mostly for temporary
encampments related to hunting and gathering.
Only one site identified during the 1998 survey
appeared to be represent a more substantial
occupation. Located on a relatively level and wide
upland ridge, site 12-Sw-313 lies approximately
5.0 miles north-northeast of the Thiebaud
property. Though the exact size of the site was not
determined during the survey, those portions that
were investigated indicate the presence of a site
with relatively high concentrations of prehistoric
materials such as debitage from stone tool
manufacture and fire-cracked fragments of rock.
Hafted bifaces, commonly known as “arrowheads,” are
chipped chert tools that were likely hafted onto a handle
or shaft. The archaeologist prefers the term hafted biface,
since the bow and arrow were introduced to eastern North
America only after A.D. 700. Most hafted bifaces were
likely spear points, dart points, knives, or a combination
of these.
The vast majority of the chert debitage was
identified as Laurel, with a minor presence of
Jeffersonville and Wyandotte cherts also noted. A
single Brewerton Corner Notched projectile point
was also recovered, suggesting that the primary
occupation dates to the Late Archaic period, circa
3000 to 1700 B.C. (Justice 1987:115).
Corroborating its probable Late Archaic affiliation
is an absence of ceramics at the site.
Fieldwork on August 13, 2003 consisted of
pedestrian survey in three areas around the house
and press barn (Figure 6). Personnel present were
Robert McCullough, Dorothea McCullough, and
Michael Strezewski. These three small areas in the
floodplain/terrace of the property were disced
prior to the arrival of IPFW-AS personnel. Each
was in grass and/or weeds prior to the
investigations. In each area, a series of 3.0 m wide
strips were disced. The strips were spaced
approximately 7.0 m apart. The ground had been
rained upon prior to IPFW fieldwork, providing
excellent visibility (approximately 85 percent)
within the disced areas.
Area A was located immediately to the west of
the press barn (Figure 7). Four parallel strips had
been disced in this long, narrow field. Each strip
was approximately 3.0 m wide and 115.0 m long.
The total width of the disced area was 32.0 m. This
area, which is located near the base of the bluff,
slopes toward the south at approximately 15
degrees (Figure 8). Area B consisted of two
parallel disced strips on the south side of State
Road 56. Each strip was approximately 3.0 by
180.0 m in dimensions. Both were relatively close
to the road. The eastern edge of the disced area
terminated at the eastern edge of the press barn.
Topography was relatively flat. Areas immediately
adjacent to the terrace edge were not disced and
no subsurface reconnaissance was attempted. The
third area was located at the base of the bluff
immediately to the east of the easternmost swale.
It consisted of three parallel disced strips, each
measuring approximately 3.0 by 30.0 m. Slope
was approximately 15 degrees and faced to the
Artifacts recovered from Area A were few
and consisted mostly of pieces from junked
automobiles, suggesting that a number of derelict
cars had been parked there at one time. Car parts
were found across the majority of the disced area
and were relatively light in density. None of the
artifacts related to this use were collected. Two
other concentrations of historic artifacts were
identified in Area A. The first consisted of a light
concentration of metal and glass artifacts
immediately to the west of the press barn. Metal
items recovered consisted of six machine-made
square nails, three larger square metal pegs, a large
wire nail, and a 6.0 cm diameter metal ring. Two
pieces of clear bottle glass, one fragment of plain
whiteware, and a small piece of window glass were
also identified. The light density of artifacts,
coupled with the absence of construction materials
(e.g., stone foundation blocks) suggests that this
artifact concentration may be related its location in
the general vicinity of the press barn rather than the
presence of a separate structure. Artifacts are
consistent with a late nineteenth and twentieth
century occupation. A second, lighter density of
historic period artifacts was identified at the
western end of the surveyed area. This
concentration consisted of three machine-made
square nails, one large square nail, two fragments
of clear window glass, and a piece of aqua bottle
glass. Again, the light density of artifacts does not
appear to represent anything more than the
periodic, incidental deposition of materials during
the course of historic period land use. Though no
artifacts of prehistoric manufacture were noted
during the IPFW survey, a large, rough biface was
found by Switzerland County Historical Society
personnel prior to our investigations. The biface
was of a tan, bedded chert and although certainly
of prehistoric manufacture, it had no diagnostic
features that would indicate its age (see below, site
Survey in Area B did not locate any
considerable concentrations of artifacts, historic or
otherwise. Though a fair amount of material such as
bottle glass, cans, and other debris was noted in the
northern of the two disced strips, all was of
twentieth century manufacture. The location of
Area B adjacent to State Road 56 suggests that the
presence of recent trash is related to littering. The
only artifacts possibly related to the occupation of
the farmstead were two small fragments of salt
glaze stoneware found on the opposite side of the
road from the press barn. Stoneware, a high-fired,
non porous ware, was routinely used for utilitarian
purposes such as storage. It was common up to
about 1875, when it began to be replaced by glass
and tin containers (Wepler et al. 2001:68). One of
the stoneware sherds found in Area B is mold
made and therefore likely dates to the post-Civil
War period. The second sherd is hand thrown and
Figure 6. Location of disced areas.
has an Albany interior slip and is likely of midnineteenth century vintage.
The fact that no prehistoric artifacts were
found in Area B suggests that the materials found
eroding out of the terrace edge (see below) do not
extend back a great distance toward the base of
the bluffs. Finally, pedestrian survey of Area C
produced no artifacts and it does not appear that
there were any structures nor appreciable
prehistoric or historic activity in this area.
Prior to their arrival in the United States in
1817, the Thiebaud family reportedly arranged for
the construction of a cabin somewhere on their
property (Knox 1948:326). Its exact location has
not been determined. The cabin was presumably
occupied until the Greek Revival house was
constructed, reported between 1840 and 1860
(Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana
1980:33; Knox 1948:327). No indication of the
cabin, its foundation, or artifacts related to an early
to mid-nineteenth century occupation were noted
during the current survey. It is possible that the
“cabin” was actually constructed of limestone
rather than wood. If this is the case, then the cabin
may have been incorporated into the house. It is
possible that the limestone kitchen at the back of
the house is the original cabin constructed on the
property (Martha Bladen, pers. comm. 2004).
Documents indicate that Harriet P. Thiebaud and
Frederick L. Thiebaud, the original landowners of
the property, were buried “on the riverbank” near
the river landing (Hendricks 2001:5). Their graves
were reportedly moved following the Great Flood
of 1937. Inspection of the terrace edge and
bottomlands in this vicinity did not reveal any
evidence for human burials or grave markers and
the original location of their graves is not known.
Additional survey was conducted on the
Thiebaud property on November 19, 2003, and
January 17, 2004. The field crew was supervised
by Michael Strezewski, with assistance from
Andrew White, Craig Arnold, and Adam Lauer.
This portion of the survey consisted of walking the
ridgetops, slopes, and ravines in search of aboveground historic and/or prehistoric features. No
systematic shovel probing or other subsurface
reconnaissance was conducted during this portion
of the survey, a fact which limited the potential for
discovering prehistoric archaeological sites in the
uplands. Occasional shovel probes were placed at
irregular intervals along the ridgetops to check the
local soil conditions. A number of manmade
Figure 7. Disced areas immediately west of the press barn (Area A). View to the west.
features were identified on the property and these The structure has been designated site 12-Swhave been divided into various categories to ease 419. The structure currently lies within secondary
forest and brush, with a large grassy area
immediately to the east. Topography in this area
slopes off immediately to the south and west and
Demolished Structures
remains relatively flat to the north and east. The
The remains of three structures were located only remaining above-ground portion of Structure
during the survey (Figure 9). Two of these appear A is a section of stacked limestone blocks which
to have been permanent structures that were likely comprised the southwestern portion of the
constructed in the nineteenth or early twentieth structure’s foundation (Figure 11). As the
centuries. A third structure was likely built within structure was built into the edge of the slope, the
foundation blocks were needed to provide a flat
the last 50 years as temporary hunting shelter.
surface for its construction. The remainder of the
structure was apparently not built with a limestone
Structure A (site 12-Sw-419)
block foundation, as thorough inspection of the
Structure A (Figure 10) was located on top of a area did not turn up any additional sections of wall
wide portion of an upland ridgetop, at a point or limestone debris. Soil within the interior of the
where a number of narrow ridge fingers converge. structure is slightly mounded up, perhaps as a result
Figure 8. Planview map of disced Area A, showing location of artifact clusters.
of the demolition of the structure, and this served as
the means of distinguishing the extent of the
structure in the absence of limestone blocks. As
best as can be determined, the structure was
rectangular, measuring approximately 8.0 m by
12.0 m.
The foundation wall was constructed of
roughly dressed rectangular limestone blocks. No
mortar was observed. Individual blocks are
variable in size, the largest being approximately 50
cm wide and 20 cm high. The most well-preserved
portion of the foundation is found at the southwest
corner. At this point, the foundation wall is 1.45 m
high. Two small piles of stacked limestone slabs
that may have been used as foundation blocks
were found within the interior of the structure,
though these did not form any discernable pattern.
The northernmost edge of a stone fence (Wall A)
is approximately 35 m southwest of the structure.
A second concentration of limestone blocks
was located approximately 8.0 m southeast of the
structure. It consists of approximately 25 dressed
limestone blocks arranged in a circle 1.4 m in
exterior diameter. Inspection of the circle revealed
that it is only two blocks high, with earth
underneath it. It was most likely used as a fire ring
and was constructed of blocks borrowed from the
structure immediately to the west. A recent
bottlecap was found inside the ring, suggesting that
it was constructed long after the adjacent structure
had been demolished, possibly by hunters.
A grassy path currently runs immediately to the
east of the structure and stone circle. It is possible
that this path may have been extant at the time the
building was in use, though there is no evidence to
confirm this suspicion. Overall, the age and
function of the structure are unknown. No cultural
material, dumps, wells, or cisterns were noted
during inspection of the surface, a fact which
argues against it use as a residence. The use of
limestone blocks for the foundation (rather than
cinder blocks, for example) suggests that the
structure may be earlier rather than later, though
this identification is tentative. It does not seem to
appear on a 1930 aerial photo of the property and
may therefore have been demolished quite a while
ago. The structure seems too small (ca. 96 m2
[1033 ft2]) to have served as a livestock barn but
may have been sufficiently large to have been a
small dwelling or farm outbuilding. The presence of
the rock wall and livestock pond nearby suggests
that the latter may be more likely.
Structure B (site 12-Sw-420)
Remains of a second probable structure (site 12Sw-420) were discovered near the northern
border of the property, at the base of the Whiskey
Hollow ravine (Figure 12). The remains of the
structure were few and consist of a small portion of
probable foundation wall, possibly the southwestern
corner of the structure. The limestone blocks
which made up the wall were arranged at a right
angle and measure 1.5 m in an east/west direction.
They appear to have been minimally dressed and
were dry lain (i.e., without mortar). At the present
time, the stacked blocks are approximately 50 cm
high (Figure 13). A second area of stacked
limestone blocks was noted at the eastern edge of
the structure. Blocks were arranged in a square
measuring approximately 2.0 m on a side. The
arrangement of blocks in a square may indicate that
they were not portion of the structure’s foundation.
The function of the square is not immediately
apparent. Numerous other limestone slabs were
located in the vicinity of these two features and may
represent portions of the foundation that were
scattered. The total east/west width of the
limestone block scatter is 7.5 m. The north/south
dimensions of the structure could not be
One other small section of stacked limestone
blocks was noted slightly to the north of the
possible structure. This segment made up a low
wall, approximately 4.0 m in length and 40 to 50
cm high. It may have been constructed as a
retaining wall, as the topography slopes steeply
upward immediately to the north of the structure.
Artifacts recovered from the immediate area
include an iron horseshoe and a small fragment of
salt glazed stoneware. The fragment is glazed only
on the interior and has no interior slip, suggesting a
manufacture date in the first half of the nineteenth
century. Both artifacts were found in the creek bed
immediately below the structure.
Structure B lies outside the limits of available
1930 aerial photos. It is therefore uncertain if the
structure was standing at this time. Given the
topography of the immediate area, access to
Structure B would have been difficult and was
likely accomplished via the abandoned road to the
west (see below). Further archaeological
investigations may shed more light on the functions
of Structures A and B.
Structure C
A third structure was located on a steeply-sloped
area a short distance to the southeast of Structure
A. The structure was built on a flat area in between
two check dams and appears to have been built
and used relatively recently. Its method of
construction also suggests that it was erected as a
temporary shelter, probably for use by hunters.
Structure C was constructed of a framework of
notched logs (Figure 14) measuring approximately
4.5 by 2.5 meters in planview. Logs are stacked
only four high, comprising a wall about 50 cm in
Figure 9. Demolished structures identified on the Thiebaud property.
height. There is no sign that the framework had
been higher in the past. Each log measures
approximately 25 cm in diameter and most appear
to have been notched on both sides. Bark is
present on most of the logs.
The upper walls and roof were constructed of
an aluminum frame and nylon tarps, collapsed
portions of which were noted inside the structure.
A doorway constructed of wooden planks was
noted near the southeast corner of the structure. It
is constructed of wire nails. Other relatively recent
debris (less than 50 years old) was found inside the
log framework. This includes a small cylindrical
Figure 10. Planview map of Structure A.
wood stove with a metal smokestack attached.
Partially decomposed aluminum lawnchairs and a
wooden bedframe were also noted. Numerous
deer bones were found scattered around the
vicinity of the structure, strongly suggesting that the
area had been used as a hunting camp in the past.
Stone Walls
A total of four limestone wall segments are located
on the Thiebaud property (Figure 15). Three of the
four walls found on the Thiebaud property are of
the “plantation fence” type (Murray-Wooley and
Raitz 1992:23) and were
constructed in an identical manner.
Plantation fences were dry-laid,
that is, constructed without the use
of mortar. Most were built
between the 1770s and the first half
of the 1800s, though they did not
come into wide use until the early
nineteenth century, a fact which
suggests that the Thiebaud fences
were constructed relatively early in
the Euroamerican use of the
property. Though the exact purpose
of the Thiebaud fences is unclear,
plantation fences were typically
used for a variety of purposes such
as barnyards, stockyards,
paddocks, house yards,
graveyards, gardens, pastures, or
fields (Murray-Wooley and Raitz
1992:23). All of the fences on the
Thiebaud property were likely
made of locally available limestone.
The exact location of the quarrying
areas, however, was not identified
during the survey.
Plantation fences were
ordinarily built by a skilled mason
with the assistance of one or more
helpers. The fence was begun by
digging a trench onto which
foundation rocks were placed. Double walls of
stone were lain upon the foundation, comprising
the two sides of the fence. The width of the fence
tapered slightly toward the top. Most of the rocks
were only slightly modified from their quarried
shape. The creation of the two outside faces left a
gap in the center of the fence. This space was filled
with chinking, comprising small, irregularlyshaped rocks. Tie rocks were placed within the
wall face at periodic intervals. These were large
rocks whose longest dimensions ran the entire
width of the wall. Their purpose was to add
strength by connecting the two sides of the wall
together. On some of the oldest fences, the tie
rocks were often left protruding out of the fence
face, though this technique was not used on the
Thiebaud property. Projecting tie rocks may have
been used to discourage cattle from rubbing up
Figure 11. Southwest corner of Structure A foundation.
against the fence. The final step in stone fence
construction was the placement of large triangular
coping rocks on the top of the fence. These rocks
were placed on their edges and were angled
slightly, such that each adjacent rock served to
support the next. Coping rocks were placed with
their tops angled downhill (Murray-Wooley and
Raitz 1992:24-35).
Fences on the Thiebaud property were in
various states of preservation. Though some
sections appear essentially intact, many more
sections are completely collapsed or nearly so.
Preserved portions of the fences stand
approximately 1.4 m high. Fences are about 80 cm
wide at the bottom, tapering to about 45-50 cm
wide at the top course. The vast majority of stones
do not appear to have been greatly modified from
their natural shape.
Wall A
The first of these, Wall A, is located immediately to
the south of the remains of a demolished structure
(Structure A) (Figures 16 and 17). The wall runs
roughly north-south for approximately 115 m
along the western edge of the ridgetop. The wall
rides the very edge of the flattest portion of the
ridge. The ridgetop drops off precipitously on the
outer (western) side of the wall. Its proximity to a
Figure 12. Planview map of Structure B.
probable agricultural outbuilding (Structure A)
suggests that the wall may have been constructed
for holding livestock.
The southern 100 m of the wall is completely
collapsed or nearly so, and its prior location is
evidenced by the presence of numerous scattered
limestone blocks. The collapsed wall was traced to
the south, up to a point at which limestone blocks
were no longer evident on the surface. It is possible
that the wall extended farther to the south, but that
the scattered limestone blocks were buried by
eroded sediment from the ridgetop. Extensive
examination of the surface, coupled with the thin
soils on top of the ridge, makes the presence of
buried wall materials unlikely.
equipment or livestock. The fence is otherwise
intact. Those portions of the fence that run
downslope are constructed with the courses on a
horizontal axis rather than running parallel to the
slope itself (Figures 18 and 19). According to
Murray-Wooley and Raitz (1992:33), this was
Wall B
done in order to avoid directing the weight of the
fence downhill. It appears to have been an effective
Wall B is a short segment of plantation wall only 60 means of construction, as both segments of Wall B
m in length. It is located at the southernmost tip of located on steep slopes are also intact.
a long bluff finger and runs roughly east-west,
perpendicular to the axis of the ridge. The fence Wall C
runs along the top of the ridge, which is very narrow
at this point, and downslope for some distance on Wall C, the longest wall found on the Thiebaud
either side of the ridgetop. The topmost portion of property, was constructed on the edge of one of
the fence, at the very top of the ridge, appears to the hillside terraces above the house and press
have been intentionally dismantled at some point in barn. This fact indicates that the terraces were
the past, perhaps to allow the passage of farm likely constructed in the early to mid-nineteenth
Figure 13. Southwest corner of Structure B, view to the northeast.
century. The majority of Wall C runs southwestnortheast for approximately 225 m. There is a
short hiatus (ca. 20 m) in the wall at the point where
a deep ravine crosses its path. The wall continues
on the opposite side of the ravine. It then turns
towards the southeast at the eastern edge of the
property line. This segment runs for another 50 m
and terminates approximately 50 m above the
current State Road 56 right-of-way. Though the
vast majority of the wall is either partially or
completely collapsed, remaining portions indicate
that it was constructed in the same manner as the
other walls on the property and was of
approximately the same dimensions.
the terrace at the point where the eastern ravine
enters the bottomland. The wall consists of a short
12 m segment of stacked limestone blocks
extending eastward from the edge of the ravine
slope. The wall appears less formally constructed
than the others on the property and does not have
coping rocks along the top. With the exception of
the westernmost edge, the vast majority of the wall
is either collapsed or had been dismantled at some
point in the past (Figures 20 and 21). The presence
of a corner at the western edge of the wall suggests
that it may have previously extended to the north,
along the edge of the ravine. No evidence was
found that Wall D was part of a larger structure,
though in the absence of subsurface reconnaissance,
this possibility cannot be ruled out. It is certainly
Wall D
possible that repeated flooding of the Ohio River
A fourth wall segment was identified at the edge of over the past 150 years may have obliterated what
Figure 14. Structure C, view toward the south.
was once a much larger wall, and the original eastwest extent of Wall D remains uncertain.
Hendricks (2001:5) mentions the presence of a
“Thiebaud Landing” at or near the riverbank. Wall
D may be part of this landing.
Electrical hook ups, gas lines, and water pipes
were noted in two spots just north of Wall D, just
south of State Road 56. A small concentration of
cinder blocks was also noted. Evidence suggests
that these two spots likely represent the location of
two dwellings, possibly trailers, that were removed
in the recent past. There was no evidence of house
foundations or any other sign of a permanent
structure. Both structures appear on the 1994
U.S.G.S. topographic map of the area (Figure 22)
and are noted as additions to the map since the
original survey in 1967. Driveways for these two
structures are also visible on a 1996 aerial photo of
the property, though it is unclear if the structures
were still present at this time. Their relatively recent
age is also confirmed by their absence on a 1930
aerial photo.
Possible wall
Numerous limestone blocks were noted along a 26
m long section of the terrace/floodplain interface,
possibly representing the remnants of a collapsed
wall or other limestone construction (Figure 15).
Though none of the blocks were apparently in situ,
Figure 15. Location of stone walls on the Thiebaud property.
their presence at the edge of the terrace indicates
that they were brought in from elsewhere and are
not a natural concentration of rock. It is also
possible that these rocks were simply dumped
over the terrace edge in an attempt to control
Check Dams
A total of 34 so-called “check dams” were
identified on the property. All were built along the
western ravine and its sub-drainages to the west of
the press barn (Figures 23 - 25). Each was
constructed by piling horizontally-lain, roughlyshaped limestone slabs along the bottom of the
Figure 16. General view of Wall A, view to the east.
ravine. The dimensions of the dams vary widely
according to the immediate topography. On
average they measure about 1.0 meters in height
and are anywhere from 5 to 12 meters wide. All
appear to have been a single stone in thickness. No
mortar was noted on any of the dams. In constrast
to the stone walls, the workmanship on the dams is
not of great quality, indicating that they could have
easily been constructed by the landowners, rather
than by a professional mason. Most of the check
dams are relatively intact, suggesting that more or
all were accounted for during the current survey.
Occasionally, small portions of the dam were
destroyed by water flow (Figure 26), especially in
the lower sections of the ravine. In other cases, the
stream eventually bypassed the dam altogether
(Figure 27). The vast majority of the check dams
are found on the upper reaches of the slopes,
sometimes spaced as little as 5 to 10 meters apart.
Along the lower portion of the ravine the check
dams are spaced at much wider intervals.
Though they obviously served to check the
flow of water down the ravine, the ultimate function
of the check dams is not entirely clear. It has been
suggested that they were constructed for the
purpose of growing crops, possibly grapes. This is
unlikely, as grapes require well-drained soils and
much sunlight. The bottom of the ravine offers
neither. Other alternatives are that the check dams
were built to pool water for livestock, protect the
road that runs parallel to the ravine, or alternatively,
to control runoff. Any of these possibilities are
considered conceivable, and there is no current
reason to rule any of them out. The upslope end of
nearly all of the check dams is thoroughly silted in,
probably as a result of heavy runoff. As the slopes
were farmed and logged often over a long period
of time, it is likely that a considerable amount of the
silt is a result of the reckless land use practices
common in the nineteenth century.
Local sources report that check dams have
been noted at other properties in the Switzerland
county area (Leon Hostetler pers. comm. 2004).
The number of check dams present on the
Thiebaud property, however, is much greater than
present elsewhere. Quarrying the needed material,
hauling it to the side of a steep hill, and the
construction of these dams represents a
remarkable amount of labor on the part of the
Figure 17. Partially collapsed section of Wall A, showing its location on the edge of the ridgetop.
Piles of Limestone Slabs
Four large piles of limestone were identified on the
property (Figure 28). Although they all represent
human activities, their purpose or purposes are not
immediately apparent.
Limestone Pile A
This site consists of a roughly circular pile of
limestone slabs found at the terminal end of a
narrow bluff finger, uphill from the press barn
(Figure 29). The immediate area is currently in
secondary growth forest. The limestone pile
measures approximately 5.7 m east-west by 5.4 m
north-south and is roughly 80-100 cm high. Most
of the individual blocks were on the order of 30-40
cm in diameter and appear to have been
Figure 18. Wall B, view to the west.
haphazardly thrown into the pile, rather than
carefully stacked. The southern portion of the
limestone pile has been disturbed, possibly by
persons curious as to its origin. The disturbance
consists of a trench-shaped excavation running
from the center of the mound out to its southern
edge. Blocks had been removed to at least 60 cm
below the current surface. Examination of the
limestone pile indicated that the limestone blocks
did not extend beyond the subsurface. The area in
and around the disturbance was carefully
examined, but no sign of prehistoric cultural
materials was noted. A number of shovel probes
were placed in the immediate vicinity of the
limestone pile. Soils were shallow and rocky and
no cultural material was noted.
A second pile of limestone blocks was noted
immediately to the north of the first. These blocks
were arranged in linear fashion, forming a low,
loose heap without much apparent organization.
This pile was approximately 10 m in length and 1.5
m wide. It is possible that these blocks are related
to the same activities that resulted in the circular pile
to the south. The nature of these activities,
however, are not immediately apparent.
One possibility is that the circular limestone
pile is a prehistoric “stone mound,” though the
absence of definitive evidence for prehistoric
activity in the immediate area (e.g., pottery, lithics)
makes this interpretation tentative at best. Stone
mounds in the Ohio River valley are typically low,
dome-shaped constructions, consisting of a
number of burials placed in a low earthen mound
and covered by a mantle of flagstone-shaped
limestone slabs. They have been recorded in a
number of locales throughout Indiana, including
Shelby (Kellar 1960), Franklin (Setzler 1930),
and Dearborn counties (Black 1934). Other stone
mounds have been excavated in Kentucky
(Funkhouser and Webb 1937, Pollack and
Henderson 2000:628), Ohio (Kellar 1960:413421), Pennsylvania (Cadzow 1933, Dragoo
1955), and Tennessee (Webb 1938). Like this
limestone pile on the Theibaud property, stone
mounds are most commonly found in high knobs,
ridges, and other upland locales (Kellar
Figure 19. Eastern terminus of Wall B, showing horizonally lain blocks along the slope.
Of those that have been excavated, many
stone mounds contained central features that
served as receptacles for in-flesh burials.
Cremated remains were also commonly
encountered. Artifacts found within these mounds
are few and are ordinarily limited to such utilitarian
items as stone, bone, and antler tools. Some,
however, contained more exotic artifacts such as
copper beads and bracelets and ground stone
gorgets (Kellar 1960). Kellar (1960:446, 450)
attributes the use of stone mounds in the Ohio River
valley to the Middle and Late Woodland periods,
ca. A.D. 1 to 800 (Pollack and Henderson
These limestone piles, as well as others on the
Thiebaud property, could also be due to
Euroamerican activities. As limestone was used as
building material for a number of projects on the
Figure 20. Wall D, view to the north.
property (e.g., structures, walls, or check dams)
the piles could be accumulated waste rock. One
other possibility is that they represent field clearing
in order to use the ridgetop for agricultural
purposes. As Pile A is not in close proximity to any
identified structures or walls, the latter possibility is
considered most likely.
Limestone Pile B
This second pile of limestone slabs is similar in
dimensions to that designated Pile A. The
limestone pile was found along a very narrow
section of ridgetop on the western edge of the
property. It does not appear to have been dug into.
Like Pile A, the function of this limestone pile is
Limestone Pile C
Limestone Pile D
Limestone Pile C was an identified on the western
edge of the ridgetop above the press barn. Unlike
Piles A and B, this pile was found on a slight slope.
It was also much smaller (4.0 by 2.5 m in extent)
and was elongated in shape. Its placement on the
slope suggests that it is probably not related to
prehistoric activities and may be a result of field
The final pile of limestone slabs was located on a
relatively flat area just behind the press barn, at the
base of the access road to the top of the bluff. This
pile of slabs does not seem to have been as neatly
stacked as some of the others. The pile measured
approximately 3.0 by 3.0 m in diameter. Though it
is possible that the pile represents the foundation of
an old, demolished structure, none of the slabs
appear to be in situ. No cultural material was
noted in the immediate vicinity that would suggest
Figure 21. Planview map of Wall D.
that it is anything other than a pile of waste stone. secondary forest dominated by cedars, indicating
relatively recent regrowth. The pond is currently
Livestock Ponds
filled with water and was constructed by piling up
nearby soil into an earthen berm. A dished-out
Two livestock ponds were identified on the area immediately to the west of the pond appears
property (Figure 30).
to have been the source of the borrow dirt used for
pond construction. It is likely that the pond served
as a water source for livestock. Its construction
Pond A
date is unknown though seems to appear on a
This site comprises a man-made oval pond 1930 aerial photo of the property.
approximately 12 by 25 m in extent. It is located
along the eastern edge of a narrow ridgetop in the Pond B
east-central portion of the project area. The
ridgetop is approximately 40 m wide at this point. This site is a second livestock pond found at the
Vegetation in the immediate area is currently edge of the ridgetop to the west of Structure A. The
Figure 22. Location of trailer sites, creek crossings, and pump house.
pond is slightly larger than that identified as Pond A
(18.0 by 20.0 m). It was constructed in a similar
manner to its counterpart to the southeast. This
pond may have also been extant in 1930 as it seems
to appear on an aerial photo taken at that time.
Other Euroamerican Modifications
Creek Crossings
Two locations were identified that likely represent
foundations or abutments for some type of creek
crossing, possibly wooden bridges (Figure 22).
Both foundations were constructed in a similar
manner. The first was located within the creek to
Figure 23. Location of check dams in the western ravine.
the east of the carriage house/buggy shop. It
consists of stacked limestone blocks approximately
2.5 meters across and about 1.5 meters high and
may have served as the foundation for an access
bridge to the easternmost portions of the property.
The blocks are stacked from the base of the creek
bed to the top of the bank. Individual blocks are
only roughly dressed and are not mortared
together. The abutment is found only on the east
side of the creek with no corresponding
construction on the opposite side. This may be
intentional, though it is also possible that a
corresponding foundation on the west side had
been washed away or collapsed.
A similar bridge abutment was noted near the
point at which the old county road runs along the
northern edge of the property (Figures 31). Again,
the abutment was noted on only one side of the
creek (the north side). This abutment was 3.5 m
wide. Blocks were stacked from the base of the
creek to the edge of the bank, representing a total
height of about 75 cm. If this construction is indeed
a bridge support, it is likely that it served to provide
access to the small structure found farther up the
ravine (Structure B). A stone cairn was noted just
to the north of the creek crossing. The cairn
consists of a squared-off column of stacked
limestone blocks, 70 cm high and 70 by 100 cm
wide. As the cairn was found on a slope, it is
unlikely that it represents a portion of a structure.
More likely, the cairn was built as a property
marker. A small pile of limestone slabs was noted
approximately 7.0 m upslope from the cairn. This
pile may or may not be of cultural origin.
Old County Road
Though technically not within the boundaries of the
Thiebaud property, two sections of old county
road were also noted during the survey (Figure
31). Both are dirt roads cut into the edge of the
steep slopes running just above the base of the
Whiskey Hollow ravine. In order to flatten out the
roadbed and prevent erosion, stacked limestone
blocks were added to the outer edge of the rightof-way. The southern branch crosses a small
ravine just west of the point at which the two roads
diverge. Numerous scattered limestone blocks
were noted in the ravine at the point where the road
crosses it, suggesting that some kind of bridge
abutments were once in place, but that these had
Figure 24. Example of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine.
now fallen into disrepair. Neither road appears to
have been in use for some time, and the year of
construction is unknown. The road does not
appear on the current U.S.G.S. 7.5 minute
topographic map of the immediate area, though the
southern section of the road appears on the 1883
atlas of Craig Township (Figure 32) (Griffing
1883), indicating that it was in use during the late
nineteenth century.
The atlas also indicates that the southern
branch of the road originally ran from the floodplain
(intersecting with what is now State Road 56) to
the top of the bluffs, eventually connecting up with
Ridge Road. It appears to have been the only
access road for a number of upland properties
located to the north of the Thiebaud land, including
those of Rachel Eberts and Joseph W. and A.J.
Weed (Griffing 1883). At least three houses were
adjacent to the road near the point where it abuts
the Thiebaud property. These areas, however, lie
outside of the current project boundaries and were
not surveyed.
Given the presence of the limestone creek
crossing near the south branch of the road, it is
likely that this county road was used to provide
access to Structure B. There does not appear to be
any other easy means to reach the structure, as it is
located in an isolated ravine, surrounded by steep
slopes on three sides.
One large-scale Euroamerican modification to the
property was the construction of a series of
terraces along the southeast facing slopes above
the house and barn (Figure 33). It appears that at
least four terraces were constructed, running from
just above the structures to about one-third of the
Figure 25. Check dam in the upper portion of the ravine, near the ridgetop.
way up the bluff. Each terrace is approximately 4.0
m wide. Though the date of terrace manufacture is
not known, the fact that one of the stone walls
(Wall C) runs along a terrace edge suggests that the
wall postdates its construction. Most stone fences
of the plantation type were built in the first half of the
nineteenth century, and the terraces can be
therefore roughly dated based upon this
information. The most obvious use for these
terraces would have been to prevent erosion from
the slopes. Given the amount of logging that must
have taken place after Euroamerican arrival in the
area, this would have likely been an important
I have argued above for the possibility that
these terraces may have been used for viticulture
(i.e., growing grapes for wine production). This
conclusion is based on two points. First, the
terraces are located in the most favorable location
on the property for grapevine cultivation
(Bordelon 2001; Zabadal and Andersen 1997).
The slope, its aspect, and the loose, rocky soils all
Figure 26. Planvew map of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine.
would have offered beneficial conditions for grape
production. Secondly, it is obvious that great
expense in terms of time and labor went into
terracing the hillside. This would likely not have
been undertaken in order to grow non-specialized
crops like hay, corn, or wheat, as these crops
could have been grown elsewhere on the property.
As there is no record of grape production in the
earliest available agricultural census (1850), we
have no means of confirming this suggestion. At
any rate, if the terraces had been used for
viticulture, it was abandoned relatively quickly.
Pump House
A pump house of relatively recent origin was noted
near the southern edge of the terrace, immediately
west of the eastern ravine (Figure 22). It was
Figure 27. Planview map of check dam in the lower portion of the ravine.
constructed of cinder blocks and is painted white.
An old sheet of plywood currently covers the top.
The pump house is square in planview, measuring
1.45 by 1.45 meters, and is 75 cm high. It likely
served as a housing for a water pump. Water was
often pumped from the Ohio River by local
residents for use in agriculture and/or livestock
operations (L. Hostetler, pers. comm. 2004). The
fact that a pump house was constructed on the
property in the relatively recent past indicates that
limited agricultural/livestock operations were
conducted through the twentieth century.
Prehistoric Sites
Two previously unreported prehistoric
archaeological sites were identified during the
survey. Both were found along the river terrace.
Site 12-Sw-418
This site was identified on January 17, 2004,
during survey of the bottomland section of the
property. While walking along the eroding terrace/
floodplain interface, survey personnel noticed firecracked rock at the base of the terrace, eroding
from an unidentified spot above. At the time of the
survey, the terrace/floodplain interface was bare,
Figure 28. Piles of limestone slabs identified on the Thiebaud property.
muddy ground, providing nearly 100 percent
visibility. Closer inspection of the area revealed a
light but consistent presence of fire-cracked rock
running the entire length of the property,
interrupted only by three ravines formed by upland
streams draining into the Ohio River (Figure 34).
As none of the identified artifacts were found in
situ, no determination was made if the materials
were eroding out from the present surface of the
terrace or from a buried paleosol. Given the light
but persistent distribution of material along the
entire terrace edge, it is likely that site 12-Sw-418
extends farther to the northeast and southwest,
outside of the project boundaries.
The vast majority of the fire-cracked rock at
12-Sw-418 consisted of water-worn pebbles.
Little or no limestone was noted. At least 150
pieces of fire-cracked rock were present. Only
two of these were collected, due to the presence of
possible modification (Figure 35). The first is a flat,
fire-altered river pebble, possibly quartzite. A
small area in the center of one of the faces shows
evidence for pecking. The second pebble, also
fire-altered, has two pecked areas around its
circumference, suggesting use as a hammerstone.
Eleven pieces of chert debitage were also
recovered, none of which showed evidence of
further modification. Materials were not
concentrated in any specific area of the site but
were lightly scattered along the length of the
terrace/bottom interface. Six of these retained
some portions of the cortex. All six were of water
worn pebbles, likely recovered from the river edge
or from a nearby gravel bar. Three of the eleven
flakes were heat altered. Chert types on only two
of the flakes could be identified with any certainty.
Figure 29. Limestone pile A, view to the northeast. Note loose slabs in foreground from digging in center of the pile.
Both appear to be Dover chert. All others were not
identifiable and may be glacially deposited material
of unknown origin.
The widely distributed presence of prehistoric
materials suggests that the entire terrace edge was
likely used by prehistoric peoples. The presence of
only light concentrations of materials, however,
suggests that these occupations were neither
intensive nor of any great duration. Most likely, the
terrace edge was repeatedly used as a temporary
base camp for individuals. The complete absence
of materials in disced Area B, closer to the road,
suggests that the site does not extend much beyond
the very edge of the terrace or that deposits were
buried by slopewash. The Ohio River would have
been a major thoroughfare in prehistory, and for
this reason ephemeral terrace edge sites, such as
12 Sw 418, seem to be common along the Ohio
River (see e.g., White 2001; Zoll 1992). Such sites
likely represent millennia of short-term occupations.
Site 12-Sw-421
The single item recovered from disced Area A was
a roughed out biface made of an unidentified tan,
fossiliferous chert. It measures approximately 20
cm in maximum length. The presence of numerous
step fractures on both faces suggests that this was
an abandoned effort at tool manufacture. This item
was recovered from Area A by Switzerland
Figure 30. Location of livestock ponds on the Thiebaud property.
County Historical Society staff prior to IPFW-AS
survey of the area, and its reported location is
based on their descriptions.
Dufour (1925:75) remarked that “if ever a family
could be said to be industrious the Thiebauds as a
family could be so called.” The results of this survey
confirm this characterization. The numerous
improvements to the land (e.g., check dams, walls,
structures, and terraces) all represent a
considerable amount of time and labor invested in
the farm. Our survey has also shown that the
Thiebaud family made the most out of land that
was, for the most part, on highly dissected slopes
and therefore not suitable for long-term production
of row crops. The construction of check dams and
terraces appears to be two measures taken to
compensate for these problems.
The presence of at least two structures and
two livestock ponds indicate that the upland areas
were, at one time, actively utilized for agricultural
and/or livestock production. Agricultural census
data confirm the productivity of the Thiebaud farm
in the mid to late nineteenth century. Unfortunately,
Figure 31. Old county road, creek crossing, and stone cairn at northern edge of property.
however, this level of production could not be
sustained. In the 1880s, the soils of Switzerland
County were showing signs of severe depletion
and agricultural yields were declining (Historic
Landmarks Foundation of Indiana 1980:6). It is
likely that the Thiebaud family and subsequent
owners of the property suffered similar declines in
productivity. The lack of recent structures on the
ridgetops (e.g., ones built with cinder block
foundations) suggests that the uplands and ravines
may not have played a major part in the agricultural
use of the property in the more recent past, as
improvements to the land do not seem to continue
into the twentieth century.
Agricultural census data provide independent
confirmation of upland land use for agricultural
purposes. Data indicate that in 1880, 120 of the
180 acres owned by Justi Thiebaud were
“improved.” Of the improved land, approximately
42 acres were reportedly used for row crops such
as winter wheat, corn, and potatoes. Another 6.25
acres were used for fruit trees such as apples and
peaches. As the bottomland/terrace comprises
only about ten percent of the total property (ca. 18
acres) it is certain that during the late nineteenth
century, some portion of the ridgetops were used
for row crops. How long this practice remained
tenable in light of continued erosion and soil
depletion is uncertain.
In terms of the prehistoric use of the property,
Figure 32. 1883 atlas of Craig Township showing road running along north edge of property. Present property
boundary is shown in pink.
our survey indicates a significant degree of activity
along the extreme edge of the terrace, near the
point at which it drops off into the river bottom.
This activity does not seem to extend much beyond
the edge of the terrace, however, suggesting that
prehistoric occupations were limited to intermittent
and ephemeral camps along the edge of the Ohio
River. Sites such as 12-Sw-418 are likely
ubiquitous in Switzerland County and reflect the
fact that the Ohio River was a prehistoric
“highway” that ferried people and trade goods
throughout the region. Through the millennia,
individuals stopped off at any number of favorable
high spots along the river. At these temporary
camps, visitors likely erected temporary shelters,
built fires, and sharpened stone tools. Though each
visit would likely leave little trace, the accumulation
of many camps over millennia left a light, but
persistent, scatter of materials across the length of
the terrace. Though no systematic subsurface
reconnaissance was conducted in the upland areas
of the property, models of upland land use suggest
that prehistoric peoples likely visited the uplands
for specific short-term purposes such as hunting
and gathering nuts (Stafford 1994; White 2001).
Some processing of these materials may have
occurred at the temporary camps along the river’s
Figure 33. Approximate extent of terraced area above the house and press barn.
Figure 34. Previously unidentified prehistoric sites on the Thiebaud property.
Figure 35. Artifacts found at site 12 Sw 418.
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