Upon completing the simplest of activities throughout the county, one is almost certainly experiencing raw history. In fact, if you have ever taken a drive through Winameg, you’ve most likely driven over the dead. This is because of the Winameg Mounds. Not widely known among residents, they are considered one of the best- kept historical secrets Fulton County has to offer.
Originating anywhere from 500 BC to AD 500, the Winameg Mounds were once a collection of 12 Native American mounds, located across six acres mostly north of Bad Creek and west of County Road 10-2, on property previously owned by Col. Dresden W.H. Howard. The Aug. 5, 1892 edition of The Northwest Republican, written shortly after the original excavation of the mounds, praised Col. Howard for his care-taking of the mounds, saying “he has zealously guarded them from vandalism, permitting no one in any manner interfere with them”.
These mounds contain the remains of adults, children, and animals as well as cremains, altars, and personal belongings of pre-historic mound building cultures. The origin of all these remains is relatively unknown. Fulton County Historical Museum Director John Swearingen, Jr. speculates it is the result of a battle massacre or some kind of disease. “Everything, all of their possessions, was buried with them,” he added.
Once averaging three feet high and 35 feet wide, they have virtually disappeared to the human eye; an effect of plowing, human action, and incorporation over the years. Swearingen even identified the free range of hogs, once located in the vicinity of the mounds, as attributing to their erosion.
The Winameg area in Pike Township, named after a Potawatomi Indian chief, has a very well-regarded history of Native American activity. The mounds were located directly around the former site of the Council Oak tree. Winameg also houses the burial sites of friends Chief Winameg and Colonel Howard. It also saw much attention in 1978, when mastodon bones were unearthed on an area property.
While there is currently no formal plaque or marker of the historical site, the Fulton County Historical Museum hopes to change that in the near future. With the support of the Aetna Grange #310 and the McClarren Family, who now own much of the property where the mounds once stood, a historical marker will be placed there by late October of this year. The marker will include a brief description of the site and a map of where all the mounds once stood (including what is known as the eighth mound, located in the middle of County Road 10-2).
According to the National Register of Historic Places, which the Winameg Mounds joined in 1974, Ohio boasts about 100 officially recognized mounds similar to our own. Thus, with its 12 individual mounds, the Winameg Mounds make up about 12 percent of all of Ohio’s mounds, which Swearingen believes is something to take pride in.
“They’re certainly significant, you just can’t see them real well,” he said.
For the hundreds of Fulton County residents who’ve been charged with studying and maintaining the local piece of history over the last 150 years, that’s exactly what the Winameg Mounds are all about: creating a rich, vivid look into our past, whether physically tangible in modern day, or not.
Reach Cory Johnson at [email protected]a.com