Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. — Vladimir Lenin

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Mounds

Besides the savage Indians of the north and west, and the barbarous Indians of the east, there were also half-civilized Indians in the south of our country. They dwelt not only in what is now New Mexico and Arizona, but were also found in Mexico, Central America, and South America, as far down the map as Chile.

The southern Indians had learned how to build canals, so as to lead the water far away from the streams into dry and barren lands. When the ground had thus been watered, or irrigated, it became very fruitful, and they could grow all the grain and vegetables they needed.

The southern Indians lived together in huge fortresses, built of sun-dried bricks, called adobe. These fortresses were large houses five or six stories high, containing ever so many little rooms, each occupied by one family. Thus one house often sheltered two or three thousand people.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

Sometimes these Indians built their houses on the ledges of steep rocks, or canyons. Such houses were called cliff dwellings, and many remains of these queer homes are still found in the southwestern part of our country. The Indians who lived there were gentle, and not fond of fighting, but they built fortresses and cliff dwellings to defend themselves when attacked by the savage Indians

You see, the savage Indians did not grow any grain or vegetables, but they came down from the north to steal the provisions of the southern Indians. These, therefore, carried all their supplies into the cliff houses, which they built in such a way that it was almost impossible for an enemy to get in them.

The inhabitants themselves, however, easily went in and out by means of ladders, which led from story to story, or from ledge to ledge. Their houses had no doors down near the floor, but were entered by a hole in the roof.

In each of these fortresses there was a great cistern, full of water, and so large a supply of food that the Indians could stand a long siege. In times of danger they pulled all their ladders away up out of reach, and when their enemies tried to climb the steep cliffs or straight walls, they pelted them with stones and arrows, and thus drove them away.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

Wise men tell us that even before our country was occupied by the savage, barbarous, and half-civilized Indians, whose way of living has just been described, it had been inhabited by their ancestors or by an older race of men. We know they existed, because people have dug up their bones. These have been found principally inside huge earthen mounds of very queer shapes. The mounds were evidently built by those early inhabitants, who are hence known as the mound builders. Trees hundreds of years old now grow upon these mounds, which are found in most parts of the eastern Mississippi valley, especially in Ohio.

In one place you can see a big mound representing a snake one thousand feet long, his body lying in graceful curves along the ground.

This snake's mouth is wide open, and he looks as if trying to swallow an egg-shaped mound, which is one hundred and sixty-four feet long, and hence a pretty big mouthful. As this mound is so odd, it has been inclosed in a park, where it is to be kept just as it is, to remind people of the mound builders who lived here so long ago.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

No one now knows exactly why these queer mounds were made, but learned men have dug into about two thousand of them, and as they have generally found bones, stone arrowheads and axes, beads, mortars, hammers, tools for spinning and weaving, pottery, baskets, and coarse cloth, they think the mounds must have been intended principally as burying places. The beads found in them are very like those which the barbarous Indians called wampum and used as money. Indians wore these beads in strings around their necks, or wove them into belts, using beads of different colors to form very pretty patterns.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell