INDIAN BURIAL GROUNDS
BY EVELYN BIRKBY
We know that prehistoric Indians, Woodlands and Plains
Indians roamed Southwest Iowa during various periods
in history. The oldest burial ground located so far
in Fremont County is just west of Interstate 29 near
the town of Bartlett. The site was held sacred by
the Indians who lived in the county as late as the
1850s. A number of pioneer graves are also reported
to be in this area. The land is now owned by the state
with the condition that the graves not be disturbed.
Chief Waubonsie, along with the other Pottawattamie
Indians, lived for a time in what became Mills and
Fremont County. He completed his life in "Waubonsie
Village," just north of the Fremont County line
and west of the present town of Tabor. He died in
1848 at the age of 92. His body was covered with a
blanket and bark and laid in a box made of hewn logs
which was placed in the fork of a tree. Various of
his possessions were also put in the box. Later, the
body was buried in a grave which is now marked with
a red granite boulder presented in 1972 by the Shenandoah
Chapter of the D.A.R.
Sub-Chief Shawtee, was head of a Pottawattamie settlement
located in the Lacy Grove area six miles south of
Tabor.(Just west of where Charlie Polk once lived).
When he died, his body was buried in the soil of Waubonsie
State Park. Later, during highway construction, the
grave was threatened, so Shawtee's body was moved
to a safer, permanent gravesite away from the edge
of the highway.
Another known Indian burial ground is high up on
the bluffs near the old Pumpkin Center section of
Fremont County. A descendant of one of the early pioneers
took members of a local Boy Scout troop on a hike
into that section of the bluffs. He pointed out the
valley where the Indians wintered and the burial grounds
on the bluff above the valley. He told the boys that
the men were buried on higher ground than the women
"so braves could watch over them."
Undoubtedly, other Indian burials were made in the
county, including some in the French Cemetery east
of Hamburg. Lack of records and descendants have made
this part of the history sadly sketchy.
(Evelyn wrote this for the Cemetery Record Book which
is still available for purchase in the research section
of the Fremont County Historical Museum. )
The following came from a 1934 Hamburg Reporter:
As late as the 1880s groups of Indians camped near
the burying ground on the bluff southwest of Hamburg
and again other groups camped "around the bluffs"
north and east of Hamburg where Waubonsie Park is