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Folks lived here a long time ago
Random Thoughts, July 13
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - Boscobel area folks are celebrating 150 years since the beginning of their community. Village of Avoca residents previously observed a similar length of history. It’s always fun to look back at the way our parents and grandparents lived their lives. But it can be a bit mind-boggling when we realize how long folks lived in this area.

Not long after Vi and I arrived in this area an old Indian cemetery was discovered on the north side of the Wisconsin River between Boscobel and Blue River. The resulting story in the June 30, 1961 Progressive noted: “Apparently this section of Wisconsin was inhabited by a tribe of Indians even before the birth of Christ, perhaps as much as 500 years.”

A team from the Wisconsin Historical Society estimated the age of the newly found burial ground to be 1,500 to 2,500 years. Several graves were found at the site. However, a complete skeleton or skull had not been discovered. The high acid content of the soil resulted in the bones being in a rather decayed condition. One pelvis bone was found and identified as that of a man.

About two blocks from the graves was the site of an ancient village where a collection of artifacts was found the previous year, including about 200 arrowheads, 300 stone knives, 29 stone scrapers, a couple of copper awls and thousands of flint chips.

The archaeological team working at the site credited Richard Derrickson, an 18-year-old man from Blue River, a mining engineering student at Platteville State College, with the burial ground discovery. He had a large collection of Indian artifacts he had found in this area.

Digging started at the new site with the topsoil taken off with a manure loader, followed by the painstaking work of using hand trowels to take off the lower dirt, layer by layer. The crew worked rapidly to save as many of the relics as possible before big machinery moved into the area to rebuild Highway later in the summer.