Ellison Orr circa 1923
Effigy Mounds National Monument Museum Collection
Ellison Orr and his first wife, Mary Belle (Makepeace), were the parents of four children, Fred, Harry, Florence, and James. Mary Belle died in 1915, and Orr remarried in 1918 to Eva May Teeple (Cook), who died in 1944. Orr completed the manuscript Reminisces of a Pioneer Boy in 1945 and lived another six years, ultimately passing away at his home in Waukon, Iowa on January 25, 1951.
In the later years of his life, Ellison Orr was active in promoting the idea of protecting the cultural and natural resources of northeast Iowa. He played a key role in the eventual creation of Effigy Mounds National Monument, and, after its creation in 1949, he donated most of his writings and much of his American Indian artifact collection to the national monument. His mound survey and mapping projects, not to mention the excavations and reports he completed on land that would become Effigy Mounds National Monument, represent the core scholarship upon which future researchers built and continue to build our knowledge of the deep and complex history of this region. Without the efforts of Ellison Orr, it is not an exaggeration to speculate that there would be no Effigy Mounds National Monument in Northeast Iowa.
Did You Know?
In 1880, Alfred J. Hill and Theodore H. Lewis formed the Northwestern Archeological Survey for the purpose of surveying mounds in the Upper Mississippi Valley. Lewis spent eleven field seasons in Iowa and was the first to map mounds in the present Effigy Mounds National Monument.