Hopewell Culture
Administrative History
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entrance sign
Figure 1: Entrance sign to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park's Mound City Group/National Park Service administrative headquarters. (NPS/1996)

President Warren G. Harding signed a presidential proclamation on March 2, 1923, establishing the Mound City Group National Monument, thereby preserving a group of prehistoric (ca. 200 B.C. to A.D. 500) Hopewell burial mounds. The proclamation declared the mounds to be "... an object of great historic and scientific interest [to] be permanently preserved and protected from all depredations and from all changes that will to any extent mar or jeopardize their value...."

Mound City Group, in south central Ohio near Chillicothe, was originally administered by the War Department, but managed by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society as a state memorial under a revocable license. This arrangement continued in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt reorganized the executive branch and a number of national monuments, including Mound City Group, were transferred to National Park Service administration. Bowing to local pressure, NPS revoked the license with the state society in 1946, and Mound City Group thereafter came under National Park Service management. Since 1946, several additions have been made to the monument's land base and a development program undertaken. In 1980, Congress added Hopeton Earthworks National Historic Landmark to the park, and in 1992, it included several other ancient earthworks to form Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. Mound City Group remains as a subunit of this newly expanded park.

The National Park Service's Cultural Resource Management Guideline (NPS-28) calls for the preparation of an administrative history for each unit in the national park system. An administrative history preserves information necessary to the history of a park and provides a historic basis for park management decisions. This research project concludes at the 1992 redesignation to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, but superintendent's annual reports are used to update events through 1996. The primary information base for this history are National Park Service libraries and files of Mound City Group/Hopewell Culture and the Midwest Regional Office, Federal Record Centers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Ohio Historical Society, Ross County Historical Society, Chillicothe Gazette, as well as oral history interviews.

Preliminary research was accomplished in the mid-1980s by Volunteer-In-Park Naomi L. Hunt. Some of Naomi Hunt's effort appears in these pages. The author began a new start in 1992 with archival research substantially completed by December 1992. Oral history interviews were conducted in 1993, the time when the author changed positions from senior research historian to regional historian/ chief, branch of history. Unfortunately, demands of the new position resulted in frustrating delays in completing this project as originally planned. The 1995 reorganization further delayed the project with a whole new set of priorities. Finally, the author began a long-term training opportunity in early 1996, with a duty-station change to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for five months each subsequent year. Thanks to the blessings of a flexiplace schedule and working two days per week in quiet solitude at home, the draft document finally crystallized in late 1997.

The methodology used in organizing this project can be seen in the table of contents. With a few exceptions, events leading up through the superintendency of Clyde B. King are presented chronologically and include Chapters One through Chapter Three. Thereafter, the chapter format becomes topical, although the chronological approach remains within each section.

Many individuals directly or indirectly assisted in this effort. I am indebted to the individuals who agreed to sit for oral history interviews and share their memories. Special thanks go to Bill Gibson, Ken Apschnikat, Bonnie Murray, Mark Lynott, Phillip Egan, and John Kawamoto. Of course Naomi L. Hunt merits tremendous praise for ignoring her well-deserved retirement from the National Park Service's Washington Office where she served as editor of the Courier to take on this thankless chore. Her concerted effort resulted in locating original documents, conducting interviews and letters, and a first stab at making sense of this long-neglected period of park administrative history.

My appreciation is also extended to the park staff, particularly Superintendent John Neal, Administrative Officer Bonnie Murray, Administrative Assistant Laura Long, Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management Bob Burgoon, Park Ranger Rebecca Jones, and Archeologist Bret J. Ruby. All of them responded to repeated requests for information and never let me down. Their patience and understanding during the several years when I seemingly made no progress on this study is now hopefully rewarded. I am still amazed by their failure to complain about why this history took so long to prepare.

Thanks, too, go to the various archivists at the two Federal Records Centers, Ohio Historical Society, Ross County Historical Society, and Dwight D. Eisenhower Library.

Finally, kind thoughts go to Donald L. Stevens, Jr., a faithful friend and colleague who helped "hold down the fort" during my absences from the office. Following a decade of professional association, Dr. Stevens, always eager to discuss the fine points of administrative history, remains a valued peer. Equally warm thoughts go to mentors, Ed Bearss and Andy Ketterson, whose support, encouragement, and wise counsel continue to shape and guide this most enjoyable and challenging career as a National Park Service historian. I will never forget them.

Ron Cockrell
December 31, 1997
Omaha, Nebraska


This document underwent a lengthy review process during the first half of 1998. The author made another trip to Chillicothe in the summer to gather additional information for the chapter 1 section entitled "American Archeology and Hopewell Culture," which served as the basis for a graduate independent readings in anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It has enriched the introductory chapter and hopefully places Hopewellian studies and the role Mound City Group played within the overall history of American archeology. The author also gathered photographs and Squier and Davis drawings from park archives. Final corrections were made in late 1998 and early 1999.


Last Updated: 04-Dec-2000