Historic Figures in Hopewell Archeology
The people of the Hopewell Culture left behind many clues and objects, that upon discovery, defined who they were and helped modern society understand what daily life may have been like for these people. The profiles on this page represent the notable figures of modern archeology who dedicated their lives to uncovering the clues and teaching us about Hopewellian people. While it is not an exhaustive list of all who have worked in this field, it is a list of some of the most recognizable professionals whose work has contributed greatly to our understanding of these pre-historic American Indians.
Image courtesy of Ohio History Connection
Caleb Atwater (1778 - 1867)
Atwater was one of the first Anthropoligists to document ancient earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley. His professional career included that as a teacher, a minister, a State Representative, a Postmaster and a lawyer. Upon moving to Circleville from New York in 1815, Atwater continued practicing law, but he began to spend time studying the earthworks of the Hopewell and Adena. In 1820, Atwater authored "Description of the Antiquities Discovered in the State of Ohio and Other Western States." This groundbreaking publication described earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley and contained some of the earliest descriptions and illustrations of Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks and Spruce Hill Works. View a copy of Atwater's original plate illustration that included Seip Earthworks and Spruce Hill.
Image Courtesy of Ross County Historical Society
Edwin Hamilton Davis (1811 - 1888)
Born in Ross county, Ohio, Dr. Edwin Davis was a well-known and respected medical doctor in addition to being a pioneer in the field of Archaeology. Davis practiced medicine in Chillicothe and in 1850, he took a teaching job at New York Medical College, where he taught for 10 years. He also was an editor for the American Medical Monthly. Early in his Archaeology career, he assisted Charles Whittlesey in exploring ancient mounds in 1836. From 1845 through 1847, Davis partnered with Ephraim G. Squier and the two undertook one of the most monumental Archarological endeavors ever attempted. Together, they surveyed nearly one hundred earthworks and hundreds of mounds. Many of these excavations were performed at his own expense. The works of Dr. Davis and Squier was published in 1848 aswhich formed the first published volume of the Smithsonian contributions to knowledge series. Throughout the years of opening and exploring the ancient mounds, Davis ammassed a vast collection of relics recovered from these mounds. After a bitter end to their professional relationship, Davis parted ways with Squier and left Chillicothe in 1850 with artifacts in tow. Unable to find an American buyer to purchase his collection, Davis sold his artifacts to William Blackmore for ten thousand dollars. Blackmore then established the Blackmore Museum in England which displayed the collection. The Blackmore Museum eventually became part of the British Museum. "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley" The Squier & Davis Collection can still be seen today at the British Museum. Edwin Davis passed away at his New York residence on May 15, 1888. Read the Davis obituary as published in the New York Times.
Ephraim George Squier (1821 - 1888)
Ephraim G. Squier was born in Bethlehem, New York. The son of a minister, he grew up studying engineering, but ultimately decided upon a career in literature and journalism. Eventually, his professional career brought him to Chillicothe, Ohio in 1845 where he became editor for the weekly Scioto Gazette. It was during this time in Chillicothe that Squier met Dr. Edwin Davis. The two became professionally involved in the newly formed field of Archaeology as they both shared a common interest in the antiquities that dotted the Ohio valley. Both men felt a sense of urgency in documenting the earthworks and mounds as they were falling victim to the plow blade at an ever-increasing pace. From 1845 through 1847, Squier partnered with Davis and the two undertook one of the most monumental Archarological endeavors ever attempted. Together, they surveyed nearly one hundred earthworks and hundreds of mounds. The works of Squier and Davis was published in 1848 as "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley" which formed the first published volume of the Smithsonian contributions to knowledge series. After a bitter end to their professional relationship, Davis left for New York city and Squier went on to serve as a diplomat for the United States government. In 1849, he was appointed diplomat for all Central American states and negotiated treaties with several countries. He went on to publish several works on Central American culture. In 1862, President Lincoln appointed him as U.S. Commissioner to Peru. Squier began to prepare a literary work on the Inca works in Peru, and portions were published in Harper's Magazine. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete this work due to a mental health illness that plagued him for the remainder of his life. In 1874, he was declared insane. Ephraim Squier passed away at the residence of his brother in Brooklyn, New York on April 17, 1888. Read the Squier Obituary as published in the New York Times.
Warren King Moorehead (1866 - 1939)
Born in Siena, Italy, Moorehead and his family returned to the United States during his early childhood. He was raised in Xenia, Ohio. He attended post-secondary schools at Denison University and the University of Pennsylvania, but did not graduate from either institution. Early opportunities to engage in archaeology, publishing his writings and lecturing likely led Moorhead to stray away from concentrating on receiving degrees from the university's he attended. He became involved in Indian affairs after he observed the events leading up to the Wounded Knee Massacre of December, 29, 1890. His commitment to working for justice and rights for Native Americans during his lifetime led to him being named a Commissioner on the Bureau of Indian Affairs by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. He was one of the pioneering Archaeologists to work at the Hopewell type site (Hopewell Mound Group). The artifacts he collected at Hopewell Mound Group were displayed for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Shortly after the Exposition, he returned to Ohio to become the first Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society from 1894 to 1897. He also lectured on behalf of The Ohio State University on campus and around the state. He also worked to help establish a museum in Orton Hall on the campus. Moorehead went on to work several important archaeological sites including Fort Ancient in Ohio, Cahokia in Illinois and the Etowah site in Georgia. He also served as head of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology in Andover, Massachusetts from 1902 to 1920. Read an ebook preview of Moorhead's work at Fort Ancient titled "Fort Ancient: The Great Prehistoric Earthwork of Warren County, Ohio."
Photo courtesy of Ohio History Connection
William Corliss Mills (1860 - 1928)
William Corliss Mills was born in 1860 on a farm in Montgomery County, Ohio. Archaeology for Mills began at a very young age when he began collecting Indian artifacts from various fields as a boy. Mills attended The Ohio State University and the Cincinnati School of Pharmacy from which he graduated in 1885. He worked several years as a Pharmacist in various towns in Ohio while he continued his education at The Ohio State University. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1898 and his master's degree in 1902. Mills went on to have a storied career as an Archaeologist as he worked at several famous sites throughout Ohio, including Hopewell Culture NHP sites, Mound City Group and Seip Earthworks. Read an ebook preview of Mills' publication in Ohio Archaeological & Historical Quarterly, "Exploration of The Mound City Group." Mills also worked at The Ohio State University with Warren Moorhead, as an Assistant Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society. Mills taught classes on campus and even worked as President and Treasurer of The Ohio State Athletic Association, a position that later evolved into Athletic Director. He was given full management of all athletic sports at Ohio State and turned a $3,000 deficit into an $8,500 surplus in just one year. After Moorhead's resignation from OHS, Mills ascended to the position of Curator of Archaeology. In 1921, he was named the first Director of OHS. Mills' ascension to Director created a vacancy in the position of Curator of Archaeology which was filled by his protégé, Henry Shetrone. For more on the life story of William C. Mills, read a written tribute published in Ohio History by OHS.
Photo courtesy of Ohio History Connection
Henry Clyde Shetrone (1876 - 1954)
Henry Clyde Shetrone was born in 1876 in Millersport, Ohio. He was in the U.S. Military and served time in Cuba during the Spanish American War. After leaving the military, Shetrone returned to Ohio where he started a professional career as a reporter for a Columbus newspaper. He was fascinated by archaeology and wrote many stories about William C. Mills' archaeological excavations at various sites. Upon befriending Mills, Shetrone was offered a job by Mills as a Staff Archaeologist in 1913. Although he did not graduate from college and not being formally educated as an Archaeologist, Shetrone was a leader in documenting his work at excavation sites. Colleagues regarded his field work as "superlative" during his time. Shetrone went on to a stellar career in archaeology and was named Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society in 1921. When William Mills died in 1928, Shetrone succeeded him as the second Director of The Ohio Historical Society. He published numerous articles and books during his work as an Archaeologist. His most famous publication is "The Mound-Builders" (click title to see ebook preview) and remains a historically important synthesis of archaeology as of 1930. Shetrone retired from OHS in 1947 and was appointed Director Emeritus of OHS, a position he held until his death in 1954. Despite his lack of formal academic training in archaeology, he went on to become one of the most productive and respected archaeologists in North America. You can read more about Henry C. Shetrone in an Ohio Archaeology Blog entry.
Photo courtesy Ohio History Connection
Raymond S. Baby (1917 - 1982)
Raymond S. Baby (pronounced "Bobby) was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1917. Raised in the Cleveland area, Baby went on to attend and receive a Bachelor's degree in Anatomy from Western Reserve University. He attended post-graduate school at the University of New Mexico, but did not earn a post-graduate degree. In spite of not earning a higher degree, Baby returned to Ohio and was hired to conduct archaeological surveys of the Deleware Reservoir area in 1946. By 1948, he became Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society. In the 1960's and 1970's, Baby even taught classes at The Ohio State University in archaeology. His excavation work of Adena and Hopwellian sites includes Alter Mound, Cowan Creek Mound, Niles-Wolford Mound and several mounds in the Alum Creek, Big Darby Creek and Paint Creek reservoir areas. Baby directed major excavations at Mound City Group and Seip Earthworks. He worked together with Olaf Prufer on producing the first major synthesis of the Paleoindians of Ohio. His work with William S. Webb of the University of Kentucky, helped to further explain the Adena Culture. Raymond Baby's archaeological career ended in 1979 when he retired from the Ohio Historical Society. After retiring, he did not fade into obscurity as he accepted an appointment as Curator Emeritus of the Ohio Historical Society. Baby passed away on March 22, 1982.
Photo courtesy of Ohio Archaeological Council
Olaf Herbert Prufer (1930 - 2008)
Olaf Prufer was born in 1930 in Berlin, Germany. His father, Curt Prufer, was appointed Germany's Ambassador to Brazil under Hitler's regime during the early years of WWII. Olaf Prufer's initial foray into formal archaeology came after World War II while he was in India. He then proceeded to America where he was educated at Harvard University and received a doctorate in 1962. His 1961 two-volume dissertation on Ohio Hopewell was massively descriptive and served as the basis for several articles and his monograph on Hopewell ceramics. His most notable work took place beginning in 1963 at the McGraw site in Ross County, Ohio. McGraw was the archetype Hopewell hamlet and linchpin of the "vacant center" settlement model. His work in Ross County revolutionized Hopewell archaeology in the short span of 3 field seasons. During his professional career in Archeology, he authored 16 books and over 140 articles and book reviews, many on Ohio archeology. While Prufer was not one to mince words and could be brazen at times, his loyalty to his colleagues and friends and his contributions to Hopewell archeology are as monumental as the prehistoric culture itself. Prufer taught at Case Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts and Kent State University from 1968 up until his death, due to cancer, in 2008.
Did You Know?
Obsidian has been found at a few Hopewell earthwork sites. The majority of obsidian, several hundred pounds, was found in one mound at Hopewell Mound Group. Much of the obsidian is from Obsidian Cliff in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - over 1,500 miles away. More...