Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nashville, Tennessee Built Over an Extensive Indian Graveyard

   Nashville, Tennessee Built Over an Extensive Indian Graveyard  

A considerable portion of the city of Nashville has been built over an extensive Indian graveyard which lay along the valley of Lick Branch. A large number of these graves have been destroyed in the building of North Nashville. In this section of the city I saw a number of them quite exposed during the digging of the cellars of a row of houses, and obtained from them a small stone hatchet and another implement of hard silicious material, beautifully polished. This stone implement is supposed to have been used in the dressing of hides. All around the sulphur spring, traces of the aborigines are manifest in the form of fragments of large pots and various stone implements. It is supposed that the salt lick was frequented by the aborigines for the purpose of killing the buffalo and deer which resorted there, and also for the manufacture of salt. A number of interesting relics are said to have been found in the banks around the sulphur spring; and I myself have gathered a large number of fragments of pottery in this locality, and found them to be uniformly composed of a mixture of crushed river shells and clay. Many of these fragments were nearly one inch in thickness, with an almost imperceptible convexity indicating that they had once formed parts of very capacious vessels. From the markings upon the exterior they appear to have been moulded in baskets made of split cane. An extensive burying-ground lies on the opposite bank of the Cumberland, directly across from the mouth of Lick Branch, surrounding a chain of four mounds. One of these mounds appeared to have been the burying place of a royal family. Two of the smaller ones are thought to have been the general burying-ground of the tribe, whilst the largest one may possibly have been erected as a site for the residence of the chief, or for a temple. In the low alluvial plain, all around these stone graves, are scattered fragments of pottery, arrow-heads, and other stone implements. The caving of the bluff constantly exposes stone graves, skeletons, and relics of various kinds.

A graveyard is located on the same bank of the Cumberland River, about a mile and a half lower down; another at Cockrill’s Spring, two and a half miles from the sulphur spring; another six miles from Nashville, on the Charlotte Turnpike; another about eight miles above, near the mouth of Stone’s River; and still another at Haysborough. I opened a number of stone graves on the farm of Col. W. I). Gale, about three miles from Nashville. At the foot of the hill upon which the residence is situated flows a never-failing spring. The Indians used the hill above the spring as a burying-ground. I exhumed from one grave a small black idol, from another copper ornaments, and from other graves upon the same hill vases of various forms. Many other localities might be enumerated in the immediate vicinity of Nashville. Numerous stone graves are also found on White’s Creek; on the Dickinson Turnpike, nine miles from Nashville; at Sycamore, twenty-two miles from this city, in Cheatham County; on the plantation of Col. Overton, nine miles from Sycamore; in and around Brentwood; at the Boiling Springs; and on the plantation of Mr. Scales.