(NOTE: The following article was found at the Conneaut Public Library. It is copied from "DOCK TALK, dated July, 1971, pp. 4 & 5.)
WILFRED KAISER'S FORT HILL YIELDS ANCIENT SKELETONS.
Wilfred Kaiser's octagon-shaped home was built after the Civil War. It used to have four chimneys, but three have been removed. There are five bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and a kitchen, dining room,, living room, den, bedroom and hall downstairs. This makes for spacious living for Wilfred and his wife, Kathleen.
A five-century old grave site as it was uncovered on June 19, 1971. [PICTURE TO BE INSERTED HERE]
Jimmy Brand lifts a skull from its burial site. [PICTURE TO BE INSERTED HERE]
Brand and Conneaut Hight School teacher, Gary Pape, examine a skull before its removal for preservation treatment. [ PICTURE TO BE INSERTED HERE]
A short distance behind Wilfred Kaiser's picturesque octagon-shaped home within the bounds of his property lies a historical site known as Fort Hill. This is one of three outstanding earthworks in Ashtabula County, which were works of defense by the Indians a few centuries ago.
Kaiser has know that his land was rich in buried history practically all his life. Having heard that a dig around 1900 had turned up some relics, he decided as a lad to try his hand at excavating. That was 1917, and he was able to turn up nothing important.
These incidents were nearly forgotten when in 1969 a group named The Conneaut Archaeological Society was organized and the Kaisers granted them permission to conduct a systematic excavation of the area. Since that time Jimmy Brand, president of the group, with aide from other members, has been marking out grids, testing, digging and sifting. The first two summers brought up such items as a bear's jaw bone, an elk's tooth, two back sections of an Indian's skull, scraping and flaking tools and drills, tubular bone beads, hammering stones, various points, a celt (or stone axe), clay pipe stem, animal tooth jewelry, and large pieces of pottery.
The major find of this dig came on June 19th this year (1971) when Mr. Brand and Miss Mary Hawkins, anaesthetist at Brown Memorial Hospital and secretary-treasurer of the Society, were working together. They found a skeleton of a woman. Working around these bones they found a man's skeleton with one arm outstretched. These skeletons were nearly complete.
Slightly higher and a short distance away the bones of a boy estimated to have been about 14 years of age were located.
All three skeletons had evidences of torture. The woman, from certain indications, is thought to have been scalped. The boy's skull was fractured and the man's remains showed signs of violence. All these skeletons were found in a fire pit.
About the time of the discovery of America by Columbus, this area was inhabited by a tribe of Indians known as Erie Indians. The Iroquois tribes were centered in western New York State. Some athletic-type matches were arranged between the two tribes. Because the Erie tribesman met defeat, they planned several successive attacks on small groups of Iroquois Indians until the whole tribe was wiped out.
An Iroquois widow of an Erie warrior learned of the contemplated treachery and secretly warned the Iroquois nation. They took measures to meet the invaders, and with relentless and unquenchable fury completely exterminated the whole tribe, becoming possessors of the land occupied by the Erie Indians.
Fort Hill was described in a book published in 1878 as "an abrupt eminance, its sides washed by the waters of the stream." The Conneaut Creek bed is now somewhat to the north of the Hill.
The only approach to the Hill is a steep ascent and is the same one which was used by the early inhabitants. A triangular-shaped wall of about five feet height enclosed approximately two acres of level land on the summit of the hill. On the opposite bank of the creek where it turns northward is believed to have been a look-out.
Robert Blickensderfer, vice-president of the Archaeological Society, and owner of Blick's Studio and Photo Supply, 212 Main Street, is considered an authority on Indian history. He has estimated the age of the skeletons at between 500 and 700 years. They are believed to be of the Erie Indian tribes, or one of their enemies, who died as a result of some conflict.
Blick's Studio has arranged a showcase display of some of the findings of the Archaelogical Society. You are invited to stop in to see them.