98-An Inventory of Artifacts and Summary of Communications Found in the Collections of the Kalamazoo Public Museum and Associated with the Historic Period Indian Cemetery (2DKZ118) along the Kalamazoo River in Section 27, Comstock Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan
Report of Investigations Number
In 1989, I received a call from Cheryl Lyon-Jenness of the Kalamazoo Public Museum who requested that I examine a collection of Historic Period Indian artifacts that museum personnel desired to prepare for exhibition. She informed me that the museum had purchased the collection from an area resident same years ago and that the documentation surrounding the purchase suggested that it had been retrieved from an Indian burial ground on the Kalamazoo River.
My examination of the items comprising the collection did indeed reveal that these were objects of personal adornment such as are typically found with human remains of the post-1760 period. In fact, most probably post-dated the War of 1812. And the various communications she showed me suggested that the collection could be firmly associated with a site (20KZ118) with which I was already familiar.
Some years ago, I and my associates in the Department of Anthropology at Western Michigan University conducted several programs of field research on the Kalamazoo River between the towns of Galesburg and Comstock, Michigan. During a program of survey and testing undertaken for the Michigan Department of Transportation at the Galesburg Rest Area along I-94 (Cremin 1982; 1983), a review of the documents, especially Durant's (1880) History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan, called our attention to the former presence of an Indian burial ground on the old Ford Farm, part of which fell within the limits of the MOOT project. According to Durant (1880:376), at some time prior to the writing of his book local residents had exhumed 30 Indians from graves placed along the south bank of the Kalamazoo River on the ford Farm in the NE 1/4, NE 1/4 of Section 27, Comstock Township. The graves were reported to lie side by side, and included a small log enclosure with an Indian in a sitting position wrapped in a blanket. Some of the graves produced silver and copper ornaments, and a tin or copper pail was observed to occur in nearly every one oF them. It was further noted that some of the artifacts bore the inscription ''Montreal'', snd that among these graves was one oF an old Frenchman, at the head of which was a crude cross of wood.
Because the proposed location of the burial ground lay one kilometer downstream of the project limits, we were unable to pursue our investigation of 20KZ118 at the time. However, in 1985, when the City of Kalamazoo requested that we examine land they had recently acquired for purposes of establishing a new wellfield, we were provided an opportunity to evaluate the very parcel where the burial ground was reported to be located (Cremin 1985)
During our systematic and intensive survey of the Morrow Lake Wellfield property, we observed an old excavation on the shore of the lake where the now submerged channel of the river approaches the lake's edge. This location in the center of the N 1/2, SW 1/4, NE 1/4, NE 1/4 of Section 27 fits the description of the cemetery as being situated hard against the south bank of the river. Although intensive shovel testing and probing with a soil coring device along the margins of the 750 m2 irregular, partially backfilled depression did not result in the recovery of cultural items or bone fragments, I am reasonably confident that we did actually) relocate the 19th century excavation of the Indian graves reported by Durant (Cremin 1985:7-8).