Friday, January 31, 2014

Helpful Hints on Identifying Native American Stonework

Look for:
    1.) Stones that resemble Turtles - on mounds, in rows of stones, on boulders and else where.

Trying to decide about this one, in a never plowed "boulder field," was easy:
I did have to look at the other side:
I walked closer, looked down and saw a composite turtle - a carapace, head and forelegs with a plastron below -  artistically stacked into the mound.

It's especially true if there are more turtle-like stones placed on nearby boulders - or even a single stone that resembles a turtle like this one:
Or this sort of "single stone turtle:"
(All above photos are from Woodbridge CT 2009, the ones below from Woodbury, various years)

The inclusion of a quartz stone is often mentioned by people who look for Indigenous Stonework;
then again a partial quartz turtle head with a rind of granite for a carapace or upper shell with a separate piece of that dark stone as a plastron or lower shell is another clue:

Sometimes these are small, possibly baby turtles, "pipping" out of an egg, shells nearby:

Again it helps if other turtles made like it are nearby:

Like these other larger sized turtles made by adults:
Smaller, perhaps made by a child:
And, nearby, a larger boulder, with those sunbursts, or "Beaver's Footprints," just like all box turtles carry, just as the local Creation Story says, how Beaver Helped the Great Turtle make the world:

Don't see the turtle? 
Match the colors of the construction's foreleg, head and shell, add an eye, some nostrils, and look for that "vee"-shaped beak that goes with a turtle smile:
And one of my new favorites, a diamondback terrapin in Madison CT:

There's more turtle examples that may follow, but be on the watch for some Bears, Deer, and even some Great Serpents to follow...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ashford Woods Zigzag Stone Row

      At the moment those zigzag segments of stones along the small stream by Bunker Hill Road near the proposed Ashford Woods Subdivision are under or at least obscured by snow cover. I’ll wander back in for another look soon, I hope, looking for some animal effigies stacked artistically in the "stone concentration."

       In the meantime, I’m searching back into those Waterbury Histories, looking for that amusing story about the Worm Fence That Kept Moving in the Dark of the Night, somewhere on the border of Nichols Farm - and trying to envision just where the “Rayls” of the Fence may have been, what they might have been used for in what appears to have been probably used pasture land (although I'm more inclined to think of it as a fuel break around the stream's riparian zone with Indigenous Landscape Management by Fire in mind…
        Were these early “hoog pounds" or "Hogfields?"
         Mr. Bronson writes in a Waterbury History (and quotes an old town record): “Jan. 21st, 1689-90, there were grants of land to many of the proprietors, seven acres to each, the lots to be improved as "hogfields" or hog enclosures. Into these the swine appear to have been turned, in the summer season, to root the ground, to pick up the nuts and thus obtain their living. These "fields" seem to have been east of the town, on and near Farmington road, in the neighborhood of the long wigwam, Hog Pound, or Beaver Pond Brook, and Turkey Hill. I quote a passage from the record:
“At the same meeting the proprietors granted to samuell hickox sr seauen acrs of land on the hill on the west side of hoog pound broke on the same condition richard porter had his jan 21 1689”
You might recall this: Have You Seen the Little Piggies? (
 He includes another quote from “The Record,” speaking about the early Common Fence that enclosed what were most likely already cleared fields of the Indian Village known as “Mattatuck” or “No Trees:”
“The common fence was variously constructed according to the nature of the ground and the convenience of materials. It was made of rails laid in the form of .the “worm fence," or of logs and poles, with the help of stakes. If stones were more abundant than anything else, these were laid into a wall. I find the hedge fence spoken of, its strength being increased by stakes. In some instances, a ditch was dug, and its effect augmented by rails or a hedge upon the embankment.
The following order relates to the "sufficiency" of the common fence.
In the spring season, when vegetation began to start, it became the duty of each proprietor to put in good repair his portion of the common fence. The proprietors each year, in meeting, fixed upon the day beyond which the work should not be neglected. The day chosen was usually between the tenth and fifteenth of March.
Early in the spring, annually, there was a vote passed by the proprietors "to burn about the common fence." I give an example:
March 6th 1709-10 - The proprietors agreed by voat that the beating the Drum through the town ouer night shall be warning that the fence on the west side is to be burnt about the next day and on the east side the day following.
In obedience to this summons, all the owners of the common fence sallied forth, each, I suppose, to look after his own. Wherever the fence was made of combustible material, they set fire to the dry leaves, grass and other rubbish in its immediate neighborhood, preventing, by great watchfulness, its spreading to the woods, or destroying the fence. This being done, the woods and fields were burnt over without concern for the purpose of improving the pasturage. In this way, too, the damage which might have resulted from accidental fires, not infrequent, was prevented...
   For many years after the settlement of the town, there were no private fences except those which inclosed the home lots. Individuals relied on the common fence to protect their crops. Lands lying without this fence were for a time undivided. They were used by all for wood, timber, stone, pasturage, &c., and were called the "commons." The cattle, in the pasturing season, were kept in herds which were watched by a herdsman...
   The meadows and the lands near the river were convenient, required little clearing or expensive preparation, and were easily worked. On these and their home lots, the people relied for their crops. In consequence of the value of the lands which it embraced, the common field was an important interest. The proprietors gave much of their time to its concerns. They framed such regulations as were for the good of all. A major vote governed; not a major vote of the proprietors, but of pounds of propriety. The Colonial Assembly granted general powers, and prescribed the mode of exercising them…(The History of Waterbury, Connecticut; The Original Township Etc. -"
(Maybe you remember some posts about the Deer Park the Nichols were owners of:
"NICHOLS' PARK, THE PARK, THE PARK GATE, THE PARK FENCE, THE CRANK OF THE PARK—Before 1750 persons in the colony had erected parks or enclosures for keeping and preserving deer… It contained more than three hundred acres, and remains to this day a wild, rugged region, almost untouched by the hand of man."
The town and city of Waterbury, Connecticut‎ - Page 693 by Sarah Johnson Prichard - Reference – 1896
(Used in a discussion here about “Bars” in Early Fences:
Or here where I find that mention of the moving fence, at the watering spot, that might or might not be that little stream:
"...Reuben Nichols lived very near the Park, where the watering place now is. He also built a house on its western edge —a part of it set into the ledge—and along which the Park fence ran. Bethlehem pippins grew there. A somewhat celebrated apple tree of the above variety still stands not far from the house. The rail fence, in an angle of which this tree stands, it is said was frequently moved, so as to include the tree—the owner, on either side, contending for its possession (sort of ruling out any sort of colonial row of stones being used, one might conclude - Tim). Orra Nichols, Gideon's daughter, was, perhaps, the last descendant of the Nichols family who clung to the Park...( OLD HIGHWAYS AND STREETS. Page 549 "The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut," by Sarah Johnson Prichard)
Used at:

It’s possible this may have been, maybe, a part or a border of it, along the Indian Trail that became known as “BUNKER HILL ROAD— (Which) Before 1720… was known as the "Upper Road to Woodbury." Later, after Joseph Nichols settled near where John Atwood lives, it was called "the Road to Nichols' farm and Woodbury bounds." - ibid

And as promised, here's that stone row accented in brown from the earlier post:

With a little (or too much?) Imagination added:
More here below, perhaps?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

In and around the green zone at the proposed Ashford Woods Subdivision

Graphic by Steve Raggie, Waterbury Republican-American  1955 USGS above it with the town-line shown.
And I’ll throw in this 1920 photo from the Watertown Historic Society, looking up at the hills where this site is located. I’m trying to decide if I can identify the right one, an orchard and a meadow perhaps, a woodlot above it. I think it might be about in the center of the photo:
I walked in on Tuesday, just ahead of a winter storm, wishing I had done so a day earlier when it was 20 degrees warmer, at the proposed new road that would lead into the proposed development. It might be that the old property line that created the eastern border of the Georgetown Dr. Development property appears on the 1934 aerial photo below as a zigzag “fence” along a former orchard, and I’ve put some approximate green lines in there that probably aren’t exact in there. The town line dashed black line on the topo is most likely the eastern border of the development. There’s a blue line of a small stream and a brown line of a still existing segment of a very substantial stone row in front of a brown house that will appear later on in this post. There’s also some compromised boulder constructions that are along Bunker Hill Road.

A couple of signs at the proposed road way entrance:

Above: recent brush piles, probably some recent stones dumped on possibly much older stone piles. It’s a human tendency to dump stuff on already existing piles – the Alice’s Restaurant theory of adding to a pile rather than moving the old one because it the easy thing to do. My Chicken Yard Mounds are a good example of this {}. Below: two views of another pile: 

A Boulder by the row:

I wandered to the east and north a bit until this "large cobble stack” caught my attention. It’s at a seep and that might be what’s left of some stone work around this little spring. That rock formation above it is probably that elevation shown just to the right of the town line on the topo map: 
Some more views:
Note the flat “metate-like” stone (I couldn't brush away the frozen leaves):

Just a little north of this stack, I noticed some barely visible row of large cobbles/small boulders:

And another nearby stack and a boulder with a bowl-like depression in it:
– and a possible masher stone that matches up pretty well with that bowl, now that I think of it, placed in turtle head position in front of the boulder, much like this photograph from Dr. Luci Lavin’s new book:
The stack close up:
And the stack in Turtle Vision:
Another stack?
Another Turtle?
To be continued, moving out of Watertown and the Green Zone, as a zigzag stone row remnant became barely visible...
..and back into the Green where it continues:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bear Rock (NJ)

by Ray Whritenour – Oct. 17 2011
(A reworking of an old talk I (Ray Whritenour )gave at the North Jersey Highlands Historical Society's annual conference, October, 1995.)
“The uses of Bear Rock and the reverent regard in which it must have been held are confirmed by the evidence of archaeology and ethnology…its form suggests a huge lumbering quadruped when viewed from the south, and a great perched raptor with wings outspread, or a giant tortoise head, when viewed from the north.”


     "Bear Rock stands at the heart of the Pyramid Mountain Natural and Historic Area (part of the Morris County, New Jersey park system), serving, today, as a boundary stone separating the municipalities of Kinnelon and Montville. It is an enormous glacial erratic deposited in the intervale between Mine Ridge and Pyramid Mountain during the last ice age. It forms a double rockshelter by virtue of a deep niche in its eastern side and an upward sloping overhang on the western side—the latter formed when a huge slab of the rock split off and fell to the ground, providing a bulwark for the western shelter./1/ Here, on an ancient trail /2/ between the Rockaway and Pequannock river systems, Bear Rock was employed as a hunting lodge by the Indians of northern New Jersey for thousands of years./3/ Just fifteen minutes away, on foot, atop Pyramid Mountain, is an unusual rock formation known, locally, as Tripod Rock. It consists of a huge boulder held aloft by a stand of three smaller stones. This, too, is a glacial formation./4/

Bear Rock in the valley, Tripod Rock on the mountain--the former well-known, the latter obscure--each possessed more than practical significance for the indigenous people of New Jersey--those who held this land the longest. To understand that significance, in the absence of documentary records, we must turn to a discussion of stone as a manifestation of spiritual power among the Lenape, and try to see these monoliths and their surroundings through Lenape eyes…
…Lenapes perceived the spiritual power inherent in stone and bestowed the honorific title, "Our Grandfather," on some rocks./6/ Among them, as among other Algonquian peoples, certain peculiar rocks and boulders were recognized as the haunts or habitations--or even the embodiments—of powerful spirits. Brian Leigh Molyneaux has written:
"The Ojibwa of the Upper Great Lakes regarded unusual rocks and other atypical features of the landscape as the dwelling places of spirits."/7/
And, in his study of Lenape religion, Mark R. Harrington wrote:
"Certain localities, it is said, were thought to be the dwellings of local genii, to whom offerings were occasionally made, especially such places as displayed curious or unusual natural features, while even certain stones were said to have an animate principle or indwelling spirit."/8/
The idea that a particular rock or stone regarded as sacred achieved that status because of its association with supernatural beings—and that that association was suggested by features the rock or stone exhibited--was a concept deeply ingrained in the Lenape religious attitude. One need only consider the various "Spook Rocks," "Standing Stones," "Indian Heads," and so on, that dot the landscape of the old Lenape homeland and other areas of the Northeast, to see how pervasive this idea was./9/
Contemplation of the stony contours of certain rocks may reveal the likeness of a figure or face. Lenape belief dictates a taboo against looking too long at such features, for they may begin to talk, and that may be for evil./10/ On the other hand, those seeking a vision may receive what they desire from the spirits animating these forms./11/
Remember the famous Delaware story, wherein seven prophets transform themselves into seven stones. Some "pure youths" discovered them on a mountain ridge "among rocky cliffs" and gained access to their wisdom. However, this allowed others (presumably unqualified to receive visions) to find their hiding-place, whereupon the stones changed, first into evergreens, then into stars, in order to escape these other folks./12/

It was also "among the rocks on a hill" where the Lenape first encountered that powerful "Mask-Spirit," Mizinkhoalikun, who told them how to obtain his power, which included the ability to cure diseases./13/ Mizinkhoalikun means "living solid face"/14/--strongly suggesting its prototype was one of these stone countenances…

The uses of Bear Rock and the reverent regard in which it must have been held are confirmed by the evidence of archaeology and ethnology. Tripod Rock is a nearly unique formation in the land of the Lenape. It surely exhibits all the characteristics which mark a sacred stone. It is nothing, if not "atypical," "curious," and "unusual;" its form suggests a huge lumbering quadruped when viewed from the south, and a great perched raptor with wings outspread, or a giant tortoise head, when viewed from the north..."
    Note: The photos come from friendof theforest who comments on Jan. 25, 1012:
"I know this orginal post is quite old by now but I enjoyed reading it so much that I figured I would take some pictures of Bear Rock specifically to share with the community here.  These were taken about a month ago and sadly its taken me this long to post them online.  The area is a favorite of mine, however on most nice days there are too many people traversing the trails looking for fairies or portals to other worlds at tri-pod rock,  right up the hill from bear rock.  Most of the hikers pass by Bear rock and just marvel at its size and continue on to tri-pod rock which is the more well known attraction these days.   If you have the chance to get out to the site and see it for yourself, climb on the rock and note the ampi-theatre affect the surrounding hills have on the site.   You can make animals noises and scare all the new agers up at tri-pod rock, haha...not saying I do this ever.   The dogs in the shot are mine and are there for perspectives sake.  The larger tan colored one is a 110lb cane corso.  The last picture is of the "fire remnants on the underside of the larger shelter, the ground is also still quite black from fires throughout the ages."