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small broken pieces of flint. The earth of which they are formed is precisely the same sort of alluvial now hourly deposited by the Missis. sippi upon its banks. None of them are in any way occupied, except Monks' Mound, and one other, which has been converted into a · Mount Auburn,' enclosed with palings, and covered with marble memorials of the dead.
We are not aware that any of these mounds have been opened, with a view of examining their structure and contents; but in digging a well to the depth of sixty feet, about half way up the west side of Monks' Mound, a few decayed bones, and some flint arrow-heads and broken pieces of pottery were found. From the surface of the small mound from which the view was taken, an artist and the writer, in the space of a few minutes, picked up about half a peck of broken bones, and pieces of pottery and flint. One of the bones, which is nearly perfect, is evidently the arm-bone of a human being. The pottery is of the same material as the urns found in the mounds of Ohio, and mentioned by Atwater, in his work on American Antiquities, and when entire, doubtless formed urns of a similar shape. A few years since a mound near Florisant, Missouri, resembling in appearance several of those on the American Bottom, was opened by a party of gentlemen, and in the centre of it they found a human skeleton in a sitting posture. Its skull is of different conformation from the heads of the present race of Indians, indicating lower cheek-bones and higher forehead, and the general features of the Caucasian race. This skull corresponds with one in the possession of the writer, which was taken from a mound on the south-western border of Missouri, near Arkansas, and which exactly resembles one found in a mound in Peru, South America, and presented to Professor J. N. McDowell, of the St. Louis Medical School, by Mr. Delafield, author of some interesting treatises on the antiquities of this continent.
The American Bottom was evidently at one time, a lake, and has been overflowed since the country was settled by the whites. Marine shells in vast quantities abound, in the sides of the bluffs, which form its eastern and southern boundaries. The Mississippi must formerly have poured its mighty torrent over the whole plain; and, whether these mounds were formed by deposits of alluvion from the reäcting eddies of its current, or whether the plain was an ancient Waterloo, where the rival armies of a by-gone race contended, and on which the conquerors raised these mounds, to perpetuate the achievement of a great victory, or to commemorate their heroic dead, are questions which can only be answered by conjectures.
Monks' Mound, when viewed from the west, presents strikingly the appearance of a strong castle or fortress, which time has just began to mark with ruin. The muddy creek of Cahokia that winds near its base can easily be fancied a moat, and the rude platform of planks by which it is crossed transformed into a draw-bridge ; while the terraces, which on this side rise with considerable regularity above each other, look as if they were intended for armed hosts to parade upon, and appear as though ‘no jutty frieze buttress, nor coigne of vantage,' had been omitted in their construction. From the top of the mound the
view is one of exceeding beauty. The wide prairie stretches for miles its carpeting of green, gemmed with the most beautiful flowers, and dotted at intervals with clusters of trees, that look in the distance like emeralds embossed in a rich embroidery; and where formerly the wild buffalo ranged, and the war-yell of the savage ascended, now herds of domestic cattle are grazing, and
*Peace is tinkling in the shepherd's bell,
And singing with the reapers.' To the west, at a distance of six miles, rise the domes and spires of St. Louis; to the north a dense forest, with Cahokia creek, like a huge silver serpent, winding in and out of it, and here and there a glimpse of the cottages in the settlement of Cantine is caught, with the blue smoke ascending straightly to the clear sky. Six or seven miles across the prairie, to the south, a large lake gleams in the sunshine, with the big pelicans flapping their lazy wings over it, and the white houses of . French Village' studding its margin ; back of these, and extending semi-circularly to the east
, rise the bluffs, in some places perpendicu. larly, with their bare sides of rock and clay, and their summits crowned with majestic oaks, forming an impregnable wall, guarded by its forest sentinels, in their rich autumnal livery of green and gold.
During the French Revolution a community of Monks, of the Order of La Trappe, emigrated from a place of the same name near Paris, into the Gruyeres Alps, from whence they sent a colony to Amsterdam, who, finding that the French motto of Liberty, Equality and Frater. nity,' extended even there, and threatened the country with the doctrines of Atheism, then pervading in France, they determined on seeking an asylum in the United States. Arriving in Baltimore, after a tedious voy. age, much reduced by starvation, they were hospitably entertained by Archbishop Carroll and Dr. Chatard, who administered to them every thing necessary to their comfort. They sought for a while a resting place in Pennsylvania, from whence they went to Kentucky, and located on a farm; and after a short residence there, and losing their stock and crops by a freshet, they removed to Florisant, near St. Louis, where they remained about eighteen months, and finally located at the Mounds, on the American Bottom, in Illinois, in 1807. A large tract of land was given to them, and they soon had nearly one hundred acres enclosed and cultivated, and well stocked with horses and cattle. They erected a horse-mill, and several log cabins for dwellings and work-shops, and also a church, of logs. Of their buildings there is now scarcely a vestige remaining. Their design was, to educate youth in all the branches of Literature, Agriculture, and the Mechanic Arts, on gratuitous terms. A number of pupils from the neighboring towns resorted to them for instruction, some of whom are now among the most accomplished merchants and artizans in the western country. The first discovery of coal in the bluffs was made by these monks in one of the mines from which St. Louis is in a great part supplied. Their blacksmiths complained of a want of proper fuel ; and on their being informed that the earth, at the root of a tree which was struck by lightning, was burning, they went to the spot, and on digging a little below the surface, discovered a vein of coal.
The number, that originally came to this country, consisted of six monks and seven lay-brothers, under the paternal guidance of the Rev. Urban Guillet: it was however increased by additions from France, and from different parts of the United States, to thirty-six persons in all. Every thing seemed prosperous and happy about them, when suddenly they were assailed with a malignant fever, which carried off three of their number in one night. The country around them continuing unhealthy, in 1816 those remaining broke up the establishment, re-conveyed the land to Mr. Jarrot, the donor, and returned to France. During their residence at the Mounds, the monks pursued the same system of austerity instituted at La Trappe, by John le Bouthillier de Rance, the rigid Reformer of the Cistercian order. No one was ever allowed to speak to another, or to a stranger, except in cases of absolute necessity; neither could he address the superior, without first asking his permis. sion, by a sign, and receiving his assent. They were allowed to receive no letters or news from the world, and were compelled to obey the least sign made, even by the lowest lay-brother in the community, although by doing so they might spoil whatever they were at the time engaged in. Their dress consisted entirely of woollen; they eat no flesh, and had but two meals a day; their dinner was of soup, of turnips, carrots and other vegetables, with no seasoning but salt, and their supper, of two ounces of bread with water. They slept in their clothing upon boards, with blocks of wood for pillows, but in winter were allowed any quantity of covering they desired. When a stranger visited them, he was received with the utmost kindness by their guest-master, his wants attended to, and every thing freely shown and explained to him; and whenever he passed one of the monks, the latter bowed humbly to him, but without looking at him. They labored all day in the fields or in their work-shops in the most profound silence, the injunction of which was removed only from the one appointed to receive visitors, and those engaged in imparting instruction. When one of them was taken ill, the rigor of their discipline was entirely relaxed toward him, and every attention and comfort bestowed upon him; and if he was about to die, when in his last agonies he was placed upon a board, on which the superior had previously made the sign of a cross, with ashes, and the rest gathered around him to console and pray for him. The dead were wrapt in their ordinary habit and buried without a coffin in the field adjoining their residence. As soon as one was buried, a new grave was opened by his side, to be ready for the next who might need it. About twenty-five years have elapsed since these austere fathers abandoned the mounds; but the older inhabitants of the neighborhood still speak of their many acts of kindness and charity, and cherish their memories with the most filial affection.
GRAND TOWER, ON THE MISSISSIPPI.
Nearly equally distant from St. Louis and the mouth of the Ohio, on the west side of the Mississippi, is Grand Tower. It is a column of solid rock, about fifty feet in diameter, rising fifty feet in height above the ordinary surface of the water, and crowned with a luxurious
growth of stunted trees and shrubbery. Higher up, on the Illinois shore of the river, is a mass of rock, nearly sixty feet high, which from its peculiar shape, and from an aperture in the southern side, has obtained the appellation of “The Devil's Bake-Oven.' This latter appears to have been, by some violent means, separated from the adjacent cliff which overhangs it. In descending the Mississippi, on approaching Grand Tower, there will be noticed in its neighborhood several other masses of rock, resembling columns or towers; these, however, are not isolated, but are connected with the shore, whereas the tower stands alone in the river, in the centre of a deep channel, breasting a current that is here stronger than any where else on the river, below "the Rapids.' In the vicinage, on both shores, are several other cu. riously formed rocks, which have obtained fanciful appellations, as the • Devil's Pulpit,' • Devil's Grave, etc. A few miles farther up, on the Missouri shore, are the Cornice Rocks,' so called from the appearance of their tops, which look as if regularly wrought into a cornice. These rocks extend to the height of one hundred and fifty feet perpendicularly above the surface of the river. They form a solid wall, which rises right out of the water, and stretches along its margin for a considerable distance, marked the whole way by the cornice, which seems to have been produced by the abrasion of a mighty current that formerly swept near the top of the rocks. The Cornice Rocks, Grand Tower, etc., on the Missouri side of the Mississippi, form what may be termed the spur of the Merrimack hills, a line of highlands that extend north-westwardly to the Gasconade river. The Devil's Bake-Oven, diagonally opposite the Grand Tower, is the abrupt termination of the · Illinois Bluffs,' those stupendous cliffs, averaging one hundred and fifty feet in height, which enclose the American Bottom and extend semi-circularly from above the mouth of the Missouri to this point, having all the way the same cornice, or water-marks, which characterize the Cornice Rocks. These facts have led many to adopt the theory, that the Mississippi was once dammed or blocked up at the Grand Tower, and that here was a water-fall more mighty than that of Niagara ; that the American Bottom and much of the Missouri shore formed the bed of a large lake, fed by the river, whose upper current wore the cornices in the rocks, until by some violent convulsion, a channel was forced through at the tower, and the lake was in a great part drained, leaving its bed to form the rich alluvion of the American Bottom. The fact that pine and other trees have been found, in digging for water, in the neighborhood of St. Louis, fifty feet below the surface of the earth, is also an argument in favor of this theory.
Before steam navigation was introduced, Grand Tower was one of the most dangerous places to the navigator on the whole Mississippi. The current being remarkably swift, the voyagers in keels and barges had to ascend the river bank in advance of their vessels, which were then drawn by ropes through the swift current, that would not admit of the ordinary means of poling' against the stream. The boats were not only in great danger of being wrecked against the rocks, but they also ran great risk from pirates or robbers, consisting of renegade whites and Indians, who had their haunts in the neighborhood of the Tower, and
committed frequent depredations upon traders on the river. The narrowness of the Mississippi at this point, and the peculiar character of the shore on either side, gave to the freebooters great advantages, and they became the scourge and terror of the early navigators.
Not the least remarkable features in the Great Western Valley are the Prairies, which are found in every direction over the face of its vast territory. They are of two kinds, the swelling or rolling, and the level or flat.
The former consist of undulating fields, broken into swells or reaches of various lengths and breadths, extending sometimes to an altitude of sixty or seventy feet. Between these swells are sloughs, or sloos,' which are generally marshy, and in many instances contain small lakes or pools, and some, which are dry, exhibit the appearance of funnels, and answer a similar purpose in carrying off water into the caverns beneath, the existence of which is indicated by the soil above. The flat prairies are plains of rich alluvion, grown with long lank grass, and occasionally presenting a lake, and often studded here and there with groves of the wild crab-apple, and clusters of forest trees, that look like emerald isles in a sea of waving green.
The Prairies are of various extent, from one mile to hundreds of miles. The largest are in the far-off West, the home of the buffalo and the red hunter. Wherever they are partly cultivated, as most of them are, in the States,' and where the annual fires are discontinued, they soon grow up with timber. The soil is, with very few exceptions, entirely alluvial, and yields immense crops of Indian corn and other coarse grain. When they exist in the neighborhood of settlements, they afford excel. lent pasturage for horses and cattle, and fine ranges for swine, and are traversed by herds of deer, the number of which increases near the plantations, when not in too close proximity, as their greatest enemies, the black and prairie wolves, decrease as cultivation advances. Wild turkies, ducks, prairie fowls or grouse, and quails, and rabbits, also abound on the prairies, and afford great amusement to sportsmen. Numerous other animals, as the gopher, the opossum, the racoon, etc., etc., are found in them, or on their borders.
The wayfarer over these wide savannahs will sometimes be startled by a sound as of hounds on the hunt, and anon a noble buck of ten tines' will leap past him, followed by a pack of hungry wolves, yelping as they run in hot pursuit; but he will look in vain for the sportsmen of the field: he can but fancy that invisible hunters, ' horsed on the viewless couriers of the air,' are tracking their game, and urging the wild chase. Some theorists believe the Prairies to have been very anciently the beds of lakes or of the sea. This opinion finds arguments in the alluvious character of their soil, and in the marine shells, which are invariably found embedded in the limestone of the adjacent bluffs.
When the grass is thoroughly ripe, in the autumn, toward the close of November, most of the Prairies are burned. The fires sometimes originate by accident, but more often from the design of the hunters, to facilitate them in the destruction of game. The dry grass, which then