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small secluded cemetery, dating back to 1880, is located on an Ozark
Mountain ridge in Lawrence County, about three miles southeast of
Hoberg. Probably the cemetery site was selected because it was conveniently
level; it had served earlier as the location of Fort Ancient.
On Sunday, October 12, 1930, an appropriate marker provided by
the University Club of Springfield was dedicated. Dr. F. T. H'Doubler
delivered the dedicatory address and the marker was unveiled by
Dr. E. M. Shepard. Made of granite, it is six feet high, two feet
wide and eight inches thick. Little if any vandalism is evident
after more than half a century, probably due to the isolated location.
The text on the marker reads as follows:
FORT ANCIENT, BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN CONSTRUCTED BY A GROUP OF
EASTWARD MIGRATING MOUND BUILDERS, A BAND OF INDIANS PROBABLY
LONG ANTEDATING THE OSAGES, ON THEIR WAY TO WHAT IS NOW OHIO.
THESE EARTHWORKS ARE A SMALL REPLICA OF THE GREAT FORT ANCIENT
IN OHIO, WHERE THIS PREHISTORIC GROUP REACHED ITS GREATEST CULMINATION.
THIS TRIBE PROBABLY HAD ITS VILLAGE IN THE VALLEY AND USED THESE
FORTIFICATIONS FOR DEFENCE. FIRST PIONEERS DESCRIBE THE WALLS
AS ORIGINALLY ABOUT 5 FT HIGH AND THE MOAT 2 FT. DEEP. SPRINGFIELD
UNIVERSITY CLUB HISTORICAL MARKER NO. 16. ERECTED OCT. 1930.
On the reverse side of the marker, possibly to placate the local
folk, is inscribed: "Locally known as the Old Spanish Fort".
This refers to the fact that the site was formerly known as Spanish
Fort, particularly by the local residents of the region. It was
designated Fort Ancient after a study of more than 40 years by Dr.
E. M. Shepard, an archeologist and geologist.
Dr. Shepard had been employed by the State of Missouri to write
about the geology of the district. From his prolonged study, it
seems probable that the Mound Builder Indians were the creators
of Fort Ancient. They were early Indians who fashioned burial mounds,
fortifications and other earthworks found in the Middle West and
Southeast. The Lawrence County ruins are much smaller than, but
otherwise almost identical with, the immense Fort Ancient (in Ohio)
which was known to have been constructed by the Mound Builders.
The Ohio site was four miles in circumference compared to only a
few hundred feet at Hoberg, but both were irregular circles with
gateway openings and moats. Early Missouri pioneers described the
walls as about five feet high and the moat as two feet deep; however,
it is believed that the original distance from the top of the wall
to the bottom of the moat was at least 15 feet.
--Prepared by James Allwood
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