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Thursday, April 6, 2017

W. P. A. Cemetery Survey - Indian Mound on Camel's Back Hill

The Works Progress Administration was formed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in reaction to the Great Depression as a means of employing Americans and stimulating the economy.  Established in 1935, one of the projects of the W.P.A. was to conduct Historical Records Surveys, one of which included finding information on cemeteries and the graves of veterans.  The W.P.A. was disbanded in 1943, but the historical information provided on these surveys continue to be of interest and are, thankfully, preserved.

In this series, some of the general surveys of Defiance County cemeteries will be shared, transcribed as written with a few punctuation and/or spelling changes for readability.  The surveys were probably done around 1936.

For more information on burial mounds in Defiance County, check HERE.


Indian Mound on Camel's Back Hill
1. Name of cemetery:

Indian Mound on Camel's Back Hill.  So called the Indian Mound on Camel's Back Hill because Camel's Back gets its name from the shape of the bluff which extends out into the Auglaize River and Powell's Creek.  On top of this bluff is an old Indian lookout station and supposedly an old Indian burial ground.

(See History of the Maumee River Basin by Dr. C. E. Slocum, 1905, p. 57.) Similar but not the same mound pictured.
2. Location, how reached:

At the mouth of Powell's Creek where it empties into the Auglaize River on the old Adam Wilhelm farm in Section #34, Defiance Township, one mile south of the corporation limits of Defiance, Ohio.

At this spot was fifty years ago located the old Wilhelm Cement Mill, and at that time, several residences were built and lived in at this spot.  At that time, a road fording the river ran through here, but today the only access to the place is by taking route 111 south out of Defiance to the forks of the road two miles south of the city, taking the left fork and crossing the English bridge and again turning left at the first crossroad.  This will lead into a lane and into a Mr. Marsh's barnyard.  The rest of the way must be traveled on foot back down the river toward the north for a distance of a mile and a half to the mouth of the creek.  This high bluff at this spot is the Camel's Back Hill and supposedly an old Indian mound.

3. Name and address of caretaker:

None.  For information, write Abram Smith, Defiance, Ohio, of the Defiance County Park Board.

4. General description, size, appearance, denomination, fencing, etc.:

This out of the way spot is known only by old timers and persons especially interested in old Indian lore.  Not only did the Indians at one time have a look-out on top of this hill, but it is a disputed mound.  Diggings into the ground have uncovered Indian and white man's bones and Indian relics.  The hill is built up like so many of the prehistoric Indian Mounds, but nothing has been found directly to prove it was built up, or happened to be natural location; anyway, it was used as a burial ground, whether natural or built.
(See History of the Maumee River Basin, By C. E. Slocum, page 57.)

The hill is about forty feet high and the sides steep, a direct dropoff to the Auglaize River bed.  On the north or Powell's Creek side, it is not so abrupt, but can be climbed.  It is this point that gives it its name Camel Back, being a winding hump.

The ground at the river and creek bed is slate, then comes to a black loom (loam).  About two feet from the top, it turns to yellow gravel and on the top about two inches is clay.  This hill is now well wooded with second growth timber, less than forty years old.  At one time the land around here was cleared.  Since the passing of the Cement Mill forty some years ago, it has not been used.  It is poor agriculture land, the ground being stony and the hills too steep; however, the ravine bottom close by is farmed and is quite fertile ground.

In this river bottom or rather ravine bottom was located some of the old French and Indian cornfield, found by Anthony Wayne in 1794.  This spot as the crow flies is only two and a half miles from the mouth of the Auglaize River, the site of Fort Defiance.  However, it is over twice that far by water as the river makes two big bends and goes around an island before it reaches this spot.  There is nothing here at the present time to indicate any kind of burial ground.  

This ground was worked over in getting gravel  and slate for the making of cement over forty years ago.  At that time it was an every day occurence to find the bones of Indians and also of white men.  The Wilhelms at that time started a graveyard about a half mile farther up the river which was written up in Burial Ground #50, just preceding this writeup.

Several historical societies have tried to place this burial ground as an old Indian Mound.  None of them have been successful.  Dr. Slocum, in his History of the Maumee River Basin in 1905, no doubt gives the best account.  He states that it undoubtedly was an Old Indian Cemetery, but it is not certain, to what extent, nor can it be authentically placed as a Mound.  Mr. Abram Smith of the Defiance County Park Board who has been digging into and searching out some of the old Indian grounds in this district in the last twenty years, agrees with Dr. Slocum.

There are three Indian graveyards of this type in Defiance County, we are told - one here, one up the Maumee River four miles west of Fort Defiance, and another not yet located somewhere in the vicinity of Delaware Bend on the Maumee.

Another fact to be noted is the discovery of the bones of white men in this burial ground, which leads us to the fact that some forgotten battle must have taken place near here.  As it is not recorded under Gen. Anthony Wayne's scrimishes or under Gen. Winchester's trials and battles of 1812 - 1813, it leads us to believe that it happened (before) either of these two armies came into the territory, and almost proves that the French Missionaries were here and fought the Indians at this spot. This could have been Lasalle in 1669, who traveled from Lake Erie to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in that year by some water route.
(See Chronology of Defiance County, compiled by American Guide Writers, Summer 1936.)

Another fact is that Jean Jacques Blanchard, for whom the Blanchard River is named and who in the year of 1769, as a French refugee, settled in Fort Findlay, could have had a camp here, as he came from Canada by the way of the Maumee to the Auglaize and traveled up the Auglaize to the Blanchard River.  The mouth of the Blanchard River is only fifteen miles farther on south than this spot.
(Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio.)

5. Name and date of first burial recorded:
Undetermined, sometime before 1794

6. Names of important persons buried there, for what noted:  Unknown

7. Markers of unusual appearance : None

8. Unusual epitaphs: None

9. Is cemetery used for new burials?
This burial ground has never been used in the memory of man. Its only record is the numerous bones that have at times been unearthed here.

C. Cadwallader and C. Gish, Reporters
Consultant - Abram Smith, Defiance, Ohio
Bibliography - The History of the Maumee River Basin by C. E. Slocum in 1905.             

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