Archive for July, 2008

Roland A. Steiner, Archaeologist, Folklorist
July 26, 2008

Pipe from Etowah Site

Pipe from Etowah Site

Roland A. Steiner

Roland A. Steiner was born about 1840 and died in January 1906. During his life he collected more than 100,000 Native American relics from archaeological sites in Georgia. Since 1980, I have been researching this man and his crazy antics.

Roland Steiner collected artifacts from the surface, as well as from excavations, at numerous sites in Georgia. He visited Etowah Mounds after a strong freshet and he collected hundreds or thousands of items. The link below will show you a plate from a 1902 Smithsonian Institution report that highlighted a few of the ceramic figurines in his collection. A portion of these are at the Smithsonian Institution:


His obituary in the Macon Daily Telegraph:


Below is information on Roland Steiner and his collection from the Etowah site. The letters are draft versions of my transcriptions of those letters to and from Roland Steiner with specific references to Etowah Mounds. They are taken from the Smithsonian Accession microfilm reels at MSC, or the Dept. of Anthropology, or at from the Smithsonian Archives, The Castle. The Accession referenced in the letter is indicated in brackets at the beginning of each. The transcriptions are incomplete, because the handwriting is hard to read. Each letter is separated by ****. The source for each letter is the Accession Microfilm unless otherwise noted. Special thanks to Jim Krakker at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History for his help in locating these documents.

ROLAND GOES TO ETOWAH. A collection of correspondence.

Transcribed by Daniel T. Elliott, copyright 2008.

[28826; 37115]

Grovetown Ga Jan 3rd 94

Thomas Wilson Esq

Washington City, D. C.

My Dear Sir

Yours of the 23rd recd You are right in your conjecture about the two areas. they came from the pueblos of New Mexico In regard to the quarrry material thought best to send it on- as interesting matter. In the collection of beads, is a specimen of co-l–li found in Burke Co Ga. I send on my catalogue, tho I fear you will not be able to make much headway with it without my presence. When you want me to come in, write me & I will come. Would prefer to come about middle of February. You will find in the collection a pendant of lead & a piece of crude lead. both were found in the Etowah mounds. My catalogue will give locations of all interesting specimens. All the fine terra-cotta pipes, come from the Etowah mounds, & all the finest specimens of stone pipes I would like to be with you when the collection is placed, as I am familiar with every object in the collection. Note a stone anvil shaped [drawing] found at the Etowah Mounds. Ink brown in color & the indentation can be seen an broken surface. A small black pendant, very thin & long in the outline of an animal on either side. I will come in when you wish, & give each its history.

Yrs very Truly

R. Steiner

The pearl beads in small tan box were dug up with largest plate at Etowah Mound.

I forgot to call your attention to the unbroken burial urn with the cremated bones, beads & c in it. When found in Burke Co Ga with the bones & et in it . The whe* was found in Columbia Co Ga. You will also find in lots to themselves, many unique specimens of arrow points, scrapers & many objects, whose use one can only conjecture. I tried to arrange them in such a way as to be kept separate. I have secured, & will bring on with me a double stem hole pipe. It is the first specimen I have met with. I wish you would note the character of the arrow &spear points the fine quality of chipping. Please send me a few envelopes- as I may have ocassion to write you at intervals. I have more postage stamps sent by Mr. Goode


Smithsonian Institution

United States National Museum


Mr. True:

The enclosed letter from Dr. Steiner relates to his valuable collection comprising the remainder of the contents of the Etowah Mound, of which we have the rest. It is important we should see it & study it in connection with what we already have


(SI Archives, Record Unit 189, Incoming Correspondence)


April 7, 1894

Dr. R. Steiner,

Waynesboro, Georgia

Dear Sir:

Professor Thomas Wilson, Curator of Prehistoric Anthropology in the National Museum, has handed me your letter of April 3, in which you kindly express your willingness to place on deposit in the National Museum, the collection of Indian objects in your possession taken from the Etowah Mound.

I need hardly say that we shall be pleased to avail ourselves of your offer, provided that you are satisfied that the objects shall remain on exhibition in the National Museum at least one year from the date of their reception.

Before transmitting them, however, I shall be glad if you will kindly inform me as to what portion of the collection would need to be forwarded by express, so that we can form some idea as to the approximate amount of transportation charges. We shall of course expect to defray all expenses in this connection. If the remainder of the collection is not too bulky, it may perhaps be forwarded by mail, and for this purpose franks are sent to you.

I need not say to you that the specimens should be very carefully packed in order to insure against their breakage in transit.

Thanking you for your courtesy in this matter, I am

Yours respectfully,

F. W. True,



[Acc 28826; 37113, 37114, 37115]

Smithsonian Institution

United States National Museum


Dear Mr. Geare:

I know of no reason why the offer of April 7 may not stand good. We have a portion of the Etowah mound & could use the balance for a complete display at the Atlanta Exposition. Indeed the transport of this might be paid out of that apprn I have not read any letter lately from Dr. Steiner. I have met him personally &we have talked over the benefit to come from having a junction of our two collections both from the same mound &which shod never have been separated.

Respy Thomas Wilson


[Acc. 28826; 37113, 37114, 37115]

Waynesboro Ga Dec 11 94

G Brown Goode Esq

Washington City

Dear Sir,

I today shipped per freight (22) twenty-two boxes & (2) two bbls. You will find the boxes packed in layers, as I intended to separate the specimens, &were trouble in arranging them. I send (4) four boxes by express as they contain very valuable objects. The long box also contains some things from the Etowah Mounds. I will go north after Christmas. If you desire will stop in Washington & assist in giving history of objects. If you wish to write me direct letter to Grovetown Columbia Co. Ga. my future home.

Yrs very Truly

R. Steiner

There are a great number of objects from Etowah Mounds which I will desc[illegible] when I come on. R. S.

In one cask are two ceremonial or burial urns; in one wrapped [illegible] [illegible] prefer are the burned bones, beads &c of the party cremated.


[Acc 28826; 37113, 37114, 37115]

Grovetown Columbia Co Ga

Dec 27th 94

F. A. True Esq.

Washington City D.C.

Dear Sir,

I hope the 22 boxes & 2 casks reached your safely & no breakage. In packing in boxes, I tried to separate the specimens, putting them in layers, with, [illegible] & paper between- The cermonial urn, or pot contains the cremated remains found in it. The stone [illegible] the arrows on either side is a very interesting speciment was found in Burke Co. All the black chert spear & arrow points & knives & scrapers were found at the Etowah Mounds. All the white quartz, & slate arrow points &c were found in Columbia Co. Ga. All the terra-cotta pipes were found at Etowah Mounds- all the copper objects were also found at Etowah Mound. If when you are ready to arrange the collection you should wish it, I can come on, & give history of each specimen, & bring my catalog along. I am in a new territory now, & expect to get some good specimens.

Hoping to hear from you upon arrival of boxes & casks. I am Yrs very truly

R. Steiner


[Acc 28826]

Grovetown, Ga Feb 7th 95

Thomas Wilson Esq

Washington City D.C.

Dear Sir

Your letter of 3rd with catalogue recd. I expect you have received my catalogue in this as it was mailed &registered. In answer to your inquiry, as to [illegible]* [illegible]* wish DrThomas & Mr. Rogan will say. I did not have the pleasure of meeting those gentlemen. I worked the same mound they did but at the opposite side & base. The largest plate copper [illegible] pearl beads oval mica plates one large shell pendant, 2 strings of shell beads, copper axe with handle affixed, & large copper axe with hole & part of handle, shell drinking cup, & large shell gorget came from base of same mound worked by Dr T & Mr R. The other copper axe came from one end of same mound with the sandstone mortar, some of the larger beads. The stone trumpet also came from same mound with the platform base pipe, grey in color. In fact all the copper objects came from this mound & its immediate vicinity. I was there after the great freshet of 1888, when part of the mound was washed away. that is, its lower base [illegible], & I got all I got at that visit in the mound or its close vicinity. I got many other things afterwards. From these on the place. When you wish me to come on, I will do so with pleasure. I hardly think, even with my catalogue, you would be able to arrange & classify the collection. I must apologize for the catalogue. I neglected it badly. Tho comprehensible to me, I hardly think you can make much out of it. tho the locality of the most interesting specimens is set down accurately.

I can come after the 20th of this month, write when I must come.

What do you think of my collection?

Yrs very Truly

R. Steiner

I got a great many things from the Etowah Mounds. I got them from time to time for over a year after my visit. All the pottery, broken in the casks come from there, & most of the pots, & c.


The broken pottery in casks are complete vessels, tho broken I endeavored to put them together. They are from Etowah Mounds.



Grovetown, Ga., Nov. 8/95

Mr. Wilson,

Washington, D.C.

My dear Mr. Wilson:

In regard to the group of mounds on the Etowah River in Bartow Co., Ga, near Carterville, I have always entertained the opinion that they were erected in memoriam of the dead of the peoples who built them. I am satisfied from personal observation that all the earth within the enclosure of the mounds is artificial and was brought from the surrounding moat and other points. Mr. Tumlin (the owner) assured me that he remembered a road leading from the Etowah River to the largest mound, which impressed me with the idea that the bodies might have been brought down the Etowah River from distant points, landed at the road where they were met by the priests and other officials, and then interred in the mounds or within the enclosure. Another point to be urged in favor of my theory is, that no grooved axe and very few spear- or arrow-heads are found in the enclosure. Hoes for digging out the earth are common, then again the terraces leading up to the largest mound clearly indicate that ceremonies of some kind were usual. The pottery-kiln near the smaller mound suggests that the articles made there were to be interred with the dead. That it is a National Cemetery of a lost people, is beyond doubt. That it was the work of the Indians, is beyond question, but what trive no one can tell. The bones of animals and birds found within the enclosure point to feasts attendent upon the ceremony of burial. The summit of the largest mound would be a suitable point from which to address a multitude and deliver orations upon the lives and virtues of the distinguished dead.

Yours truly,

R. Steiner


January 22, 1896


I have been requested to ask that the sum of seven thousand dollars be inserted in the Deficiency Bill, for the purchase of the archaeological collection of Doctor Roland Steiner, of Grovetown, Georgia. These collections were sent in 1894 to the National Museum for purposes of study, and they are still in its custody. Their interest and value to science is becoming more highly appreciated the more the collections are being studied. They contain 33, 866 specimens, obtained principally from a locality in Georgia, and the collection is unique in the fact that no locality in America ever explored has yielded even one-tenth as many specimens. It is therefore particularly valuable as illustrating the density of population and the manifold characteristics of the industries of the aborigines. A portion of the collection belongs to the Stone Age; there are also numerous objects of copper, shell, bone and pottery. Part of the collection comes from the celebrated Etowah mound, which is but poorly represented in the National collection, and which is now closed to exploration. A compendium of the catalogue is herewith transmitted.

If this collection were added, it would place in the Museum all the ethnological material from this famous locality, for it would supplement a smaller collection already in our possession.

Believing as I do that the collection would be useful and worth the money, I accordingly respectfully ask that an item of seven thousand dollars be inserted in the Deficiency bill for this purpose, but I wish to say at the same time, that I make the recommendation with considerable hesitation. Unless, indeed, it can be granted without prejudice in the regular appropriations and without danger of reducing the amount to be allowed for regular expenses of the Museum, I greatly prefer that it should not be made.

Yours very respectfully,

S. P. Langley,


The Honorable Joseph G. Cannon, M.C.

Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.

[description of the collection appended to letter]

The collection of Dr. Roland Steiner, of Grovetown, Georgia comprises seven accessions and contains 33,866 implements, 157 of them were deposited in the National Museum in 1892; all the rest in 1894, although they were not entered until 1895. A compendium of the collection is as follows:

Acc. 24147. Rude chipped implements, Burke Co., Ga.

Acc. 25321. Rude chipped implements, Burke County, Ga.

Acc. 29048. Arrow and spear-heads, [illegible], perforaters, hatchets, grooved axes, drilled [illegible] objects, stone tube, steatite sinker, [illegible]* pipe with two stem holes. Columbia Co., Ga. [illegible]*objects.

Acc. 29338. Arrow-heads and worked flint found en cache, S.C. in all 66 objects.

Acc. collection from the Etowah Group of Mounds, Bartow Co., Ga.; Arrow- and spear-heads, polished hatchets and grooved axes, discoidal stones, drilled tablets, bird-shaped objects, boat-shaped objects, drilled ceremonial objects (bannerstones, etc.) chisels, stone plates, stone beads and tubes, cone-shaped mullers, carved stone pipes, stone pendants, terra-cotta pipes and figurines, clay vessels, carved shell disks, shell beads and pins, pearl beads, copper hatchets, and ornaments, steatite objects, etc.

Polished hatchets, chisels, and grooved axes, Burke and Columbia Cos., Ga.

Hammer-stones, pitted stones, discoidal stones, grooved axes, ceremonial objects (banner-stones, etc.) leaf-shaped blades, arrow- and spear-heads, scrapers, perforators, mortars, pestles, grinding stones, fragments of pottery, etc., Burke Co., Ga.

Polished hatchets and chisels, grooved axes, stone mullers, discoidal stones, drilled tablets, boat-shaped objects, ceremonial objects, shell beads and pins, carved shell gorget, and bone implement, pottery vessels and human skulls and bones. Floyd Co., Ga.

Rude notched implements, arrow- and spear-heads, mullers, polished hatchets, and a large stone metate. Lincoln Co., Ga.

Grooved axes, polished hatchtes, discoidal stones, stone mortars and pestles, stone sinkers, etc., Fulton, Jefferson, Richmond, and Milton counties, Ga.

Arrow & spear heads, scrapers, perforators, hammerstones, rude notched axes, grooved axes, drilled tablets, bannerstones, discoidal stones, mortars, large earthenware vessels & fragments of steatite vessels. Columbia Co., Ga.

Drilled tablets. Warren Co., Ohio

Grooved Axe Butler Co., Ohio

Mortars, pestles, grooved mauls & axes, notched implements catlinite pipe, war club, bow case &quiver with arrows. Pueblo Zuni, New Mexico.

Bone handle for scrapers

in all 32, 478 objects

Acc. 29546. Worked flakes knives scrapers, arrow and spear heads, rude notched implements, perforators, hammer & pitted stones, steatite vessels, rude chipped hatchets, polished hatchets, & drilled ceremonial objects. Columbia Co., Ga.

in all 992 objects

Acc. 29912 Leaf shaped implements, spearhead, perforator, small stone carving (human figure), disc for gambling, & a turquoise pendant. Columbia Co., Ga.

in all 6 objects.

(Smithsonian Archives Microfilm L111:482-485)


[Acc. 31931]

Grovetown, Ga., April 8, 1897.

Dear Mr. Wilson:-

The Kiokee village-site is situated in Columbia County, Ga., on the Kiokee Creek. Early historians locate in this county the Uchees- who were a large and powerful tribe, were conquered by the Cherokees, though they always held to their own tribal customs and spoke their own language. Though belonging to the Muskogee confederacy, they were always a distinct people.

The Kiokee site was upon the Indian trail from the mountains to the sea, and from the extent of land- about 50 acres- must have been a large and populous town. The types of objects found there are from the rudest to the finest, and seems to have been the work of varied peoples. Some of the objects were from a far remove, as specimens of the black flint from the Etowah mounds are found there, perhaps, being upon the trail, travelers exchanged or lost their weapons and utensils there. The objects found are often counterparts of those found on the Evans Place, Burke County, a distance of 37 miles. Triangular flints are almost as abundant as on the Evans Palce. The scrapers are alike, and no polished hatchets are found. To account for the number of rude objects, I believe it is due to this fact, that the Uchees were conquered, and the conquerors introduced their own and better tools and weapons.


As will be seen from the map- slate, quartz and soap-stone were in easy reach, the material being easy to work, was utilized for almost any kind of implement. I have heard of no flint quarry, the nearest point being “Old Town,” Jefferson Co.

I sent in box one soap-stone object that shows the beginning of the perforation- done with a hollow reed. I forgot to mention that there is no jasper quarries in this locality.

Yrs very truly

R. Steiner

The boulder with mortars on it, is a round rock, weighing about 5 tons. It was the village mill.

I sent two boxes per express- only one got off, through mistakes of express, the other goes today. Please send a few stamp envelopes.


[Acc. 32670; 37115; Cat. No. 195456-525]

Grovetown, Ga., May 27, 1897.

Mr. Thomas Wilson,

Washington City.

My dear Sir:-

I have about wound up the “Kiokee site”- and I will send on what I have to be added to the collection. I also will send two boxes from the spring site- all rhyolite- I did not attempt to assort them- you will recognize the objects- the boxes are also numbered on the outside spring No. 1 & 2. I will send the boxes by freight that contain the spring and Kiokee specimens. I have one box which I will send by express, as it contains very fine and very odd specimens- particularly one arrow-head, bevelled on the right side, in a tobacco bag. One long flint hair-pin- could not possible have been a borer or perforator, it is similar to the shell hair-pins from Etowah mounds- also two pitted stones, with three pits on back stone. I send by freight everything I got from Kiokee save the box per express, which objects are also from “Kiokee”- I would like to hear from you, paritcularly about last boxes sent per express. I have nothing from you in a long time. Would it be convenient to send out the catalogue again- I would like to look over it again- as it would give me much pleasure these long hot days- I would keep only a couple of weeks, and return. The Kiokee site compares favorably with the Evans Place. I forgot to mention one iron tomahawk- a negro tried to grind the edge, but found it was not made of steel, but iron. It is very old. In the six boxes by freight there are many good specimens, some very similar to those from the Evans Place- the material being like that from the Rocky Creek quarry- Just drop me a line to say you are hul and corl. With kind regards to all,

Yrs very truly,

R. Steiner

In the box per express, there are some odd specimens, unlike any I have hitherto seen.


[Acc. 32670; now 37115]

Grovetown, Ga., Aug. 23, 1897.

Mr. E. P. Upham:

Washington City.

My dear Sir:

I have wound up the Kiokee matter. I have gotten all- have some strange ones. After the last plowing, rains set in, and I got a lot of hands to gather all they could find- there are many fine specimens in the lot- not as many as in the last lot. There are some odd-shaped spearpoints bend as is here [drawing], and two chipper hatchets shaped like gouges. There are six boxes in all. In one box is a large mortar and pestle from Etowah Mound, plowed up at the base of large mound. I have not gotten anything esle from there yet; as soon as I do I will send on.

[portion missing]

Kind regards to all.

Yrs very truly,

R. Steiner.

I had all the specimens classified and wrapped separately, so you wont have the trouble of looking them over [portion missing] I send the six boxes by freight.


[Acc. 32030; 37115; Cat. No. 196782-800]

Grovetown, Ga., Nov. 22, 1897.

Mr. Thomas Wilson,

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Wilson-

As I stated in some previous letter to you, that should I come up with any curious or unique specimens, I would send them on. Today I send per express a small box containing some very long steatite grooved axes- I cannot conjecture their use as the cutting edges of two are very thick and do not seem to have seen service- one seems to have been used- also a smaller one with a ball-like handle. A smaller one still seems to have seen much service- Col. C. C. Jones had one similar to the longest of the three, but not so long by 4 or 5 inches.

You will find in the box a discoidal stone of steatite, also some objects, one with handle and 2 with no handle- broken off; also 2 soapstone cones, and one of some slaty material. The object with knob and peculiar body with perforation, I believe to be an implement for twisting thongs- as the oil could be kept in long circular opening and taken up as needed and the implement could be put in fire and the groove heated if necessary.

Also send 3 large crystals of quartz that show use as punches or borers-

I send also by freight a cracker-box containing 3 rough axes- with indistinct grooves- a heart-shaped hammer of sandstone, a large dish with hole through middle [drawing] and a dish with a spout- all very curious and odd. I think at the quarry- all kinds of objects were made for barter. In the series of rough sinkers I sent in last lot, a fact should be noted- that I have never met with them save at this point. After they were taken away they were polished. In Burke County soapstone objects are rarely found. I did not see any at the Etowah mounds, nor were there any in the collection from Rome, Ga.

I wish very much you would drop me a line when you get the axes and other objects and give me your views about them. Just take a minute or two and talk it out to Miss Rosenbusch. I shall answer your last letter in a few days. Kind regards to all.

Yrs very truly,

R. Steiner

This sending was found at a high point on Savannah River about 1/4 of a mile above quarry- and but few could occupy the ground, as the space is small. Pottery was plentiful, but no sinkers- some small paint mortars and the large slab with hole in one end. The length of the axes are: 13 1/4 inches, 12 inches, 11 inches [drawing]


United States National Museum

S. P. Langley


Chas. D. Walcott

Acting Assistant Secretary

in Charge U. S. National Museum

Washington, D. C. January 19, 1898.

Dr. W. H. Holmes,

Head Curator, Department of Anthropology, U. S. National Museum.

Dear Sir:

Replying to your request for information concerning the number, extent and value of Dr. Roland Steiner’s collection now on deposit in the National Museum, I have the honor to make the following report.

Dr. Steiner has been, for about three years, at intervals, making deposits of aboriginal implements and objects in the National Museum. His collection amounts now to approximately 75,000 objects. They have been gathered by him in eastern Georgia, principally in Columbia and Burke Counties, though there is a very important collection made by himself from the Etowah Mounds in Bartow County. The value of this collection is much increased over the usual collections of similar size or number, from the fact that it has been gathered from specific localities. One collection, from Burke County, comprising from between sixteen and seventeen thousand pieces, has been gathered on what is called “The Old Evans Place,” about twelve miles west of Waynesboro. The area on which these were found is less than forty acres, on the bank of Little Buckhead Creek. There was a spring and two or three small and insignificant mounds. It was evidently a site of ancient occupation continuing for a long period of time, with an extensive population. The objects found are diverse and furnish an extensive series of almost every kind of implement. The combination of these implements, their number and diversity, comprising as they do, all that has ever been found within this restricted area, afford the best monograph of the history of those prehistoric peoples I have ever seen. Extensive quarries of the various materials used are found in the immediate neighborhood and ith these added to the collection, the student is enabled to better understand and trace the history of these peoples, so far as it can be made out from their industry, better than by any other known method. A collection of the same number of objects gathered from different parts of the country, without any known relation to each other, would not be worth one fourth as much.

Another portion of the collection was gathered at another village-site or settlement on Kiokee Creek, and still another at a soapstone quarry and village-site on Burt’s Mountain, Columbia County. the two latter present practically the same advantages as exist with regard to the collection from the Old Evans Place.

Not the least inconsiderable portion of Dr. Steiner’s collection, nor that of least value, is the result of his own excavation at the Etowah Mounds or, as they have been known, the Tumlin Mounds on the plantation of Col. Tumlin, Etowah Creek, Bartow County. These are probably the most renowned mounds of which we know, and have produced the rarest and most curious objects. They were first excavated under the direction of the Bureau of Ethnology, and a considerable collection of implements and objects obtained from them. Their position, form, and the industry they reveal, are of such importance that they are selected by Prof. Thomas as the type for his “History of a Mound,” published in the American Anthropologist, a few years since. The Museum possesses the objects which Prof. Thomas obtained from this group of mounds, and they fill one case in my Division. Dr. Steiner’s excavations into the same mounds produced nearly twice as many objects, some of them the rarest and most valuable, – they are also in the Museum by the side of the others, and fill two cases.

The Etowah mounds are far from being exhausted. They have not been thoroughly excavated or examined. The visited them during the Exposition in Atlanta in company with Dr. Steiner, and I formed the opinion that he could better continue this excavation than any other person. He, I believe, can obtain permission better than any one else I know.

It appears to me of the highest necessity that we should retain the objects from this mound that belong to Dr. Steiner, to the end that they may supplement the collection of Prof. Thomas. I would consider it almost an irreparable loss, one not to be calculated in dollars and cents, if the objects belonging to Dr. Steiner should be taken away and the collection from the Etowah Mound broken up. The purchase of this collection from Dr. Steiner will materially facilitate the complete excavation of the Etowah Mounds and insure to the Museum the possession of their riches in its entirety.

A single word in regard to the price: I understand Dr. Steiner has fixed the price at Seven Thousand Dollars ($7,000.) This makes an average of about ten cents each. The average collection put to sale by auction frequenty brings an average of a dollar from each specimen. The Newbold collection of Bordentown, N. J., of 3,000 implements sold in New York for $3,000. (at auction). While this rate would not hold good for the Steiner collection, you can easily see the possibilities of exceeding the present price asked.

In conclusion, permit me to testify my appreciation of the importance of this collection and the propriety, if not the necessity, of purchasing it. It will be a source of the most profound regret if it should fail. It is of greater value to Science than for display, and the benefits or advantages to be derived from it will become more apparent the more it is studied and understood. I might cite, as an illustration, our poignant regret which increases year by year whenever we remember our failure to procure the great Squier & Davis Collection, although it did not have one-tenth the number of the Steiner collection.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas Wilson

Curator, Division of Prehistoric Anthropology


Smithsonian Institution

United States National Museum

S. P. Langley


Chas. D. Walcott

Acting Assistant Secretary

in Charge U. S. National Museum

Washington, D. C. January 22, 1898.

Memorandum to Mr. Walcott:

With regard to the Steiner collection of antiquities, referred to in the Secretary’s not which I return to you herewith, I have the honor to say that I have examined the collection and find it to be of exceptional value. It consists of a great body of relics representing one of the most important ethnic areas of the Southern States and has this advantage that it is so complete that we are enabled to restore the ancient culture with a completeness not yet made possible in any section of the Country. With the material already on hand from the same district it forms just such a unit as the Museum should have for each of the great American culture areas. I should be exceedingly sorry to miss the opportunity of securing this material and trust that you may find it possible to add it to our collections.

I enclose herewith a somewhat lengthy statement prepared at my request by Doctor Thomas Wilson.

Very respectfully,

W. H. Holmes

Head Curator of Anthropology.


January 25, 1898.

Memorandum to the Secretary:

Regarding the Steiner collection of antiquities, referred to in your note of the 17th. instant, I have the honor to report, after consultation with Mr. Holmes, that it is of exceptional value. It consists of a great body of relics, approximately 75,000 in number, representing one of the most important ethnic areas of the southern states. By its assistance the archaeologist will be enabled to restore the ancient culture with a completeness not yet made possible in any other section of the country. I would add that, with the material already on hand, the Museum would, in the event of the acquisition of this collection, have just such a representation from this region as it should have from each of the great American culture areas. I consider it a very valuable acquisition for the Museum, and hope that the necessary steps may be taken for its purhase.

Very respectfully,

Chas. D. Walcott

Acting Assistant Secretary.


[Acc. 37115]

Grovetown Ga. May 31st ‘99

Dear Mr. Upham,

Put on your glasses, take a good chew of tobacco, get in the best of humors, seek quiet in the smoking den, where undisturbed you can digest the following theory as to the Quarry & Village site- In the first place, you are right in supposing that the sites were occupied for a long time, & I expect by many peoples- I think the steatite ws the capitol upon which they subsisted, for it must have been bartared with other peoples- You will find that the Evan’s Place furnished but little steatite. The Etowah Mounds none. You will find that there are many specimens of flint, jasper & other material, that are not native to this section- as ryollite and quartz are the minerals found in this & adjoining counties- Instead of one village site there are many sites in small settlements covering as [illegible] the Evans Place an area of about fifty acres- embracing, [illegible] including the Quarry & extending to the base of Burt Mountain- there are 26 springs in the area, There is also much potstone as you will see from objects sent- My theory about the place is this spot was occupied long after European occupation- & that the Indians left [illegible]* that they dropped the stone implements as soon as they got metal ones- & that when they moved, they carried their pots, pipes & best ornaments with them. I was also [illegible] that the [illegible] aborigines were canibals, as you will find in the boxes of specimens of the shell heaps human bones mingled with other bones- I shall later in thoroughy explore one of the large shell heaps. In the pipes which I will send tomorrow, youwill see one odd white clay pipe- European. Some soapstone pipes & one very old pipe- & one very beautiful serpentine pipe- I shall send you also tomorrow a box of miscellaneous specimens, eery one of which is of interest- there is in this lot the most beautiful lozenge-shaped crystal pt. that has pitch on the edge- you may be able to get it off- I have failed- You can see the clouds in the sky thro it. Also the finest, longest serrated triangular point- & the delicate serrated triangular- I do not think it necessary to call your attention to the others as your attention will be [illegible] by the appearance. I could not arrange [illegible] to pack all [illegible] together- but did the best I could- I will have [illegible] up the site, where I finish send the few boxes by mail- I send you today by freight (7) seven boxes- I shall go to the site on Saturday next, & prepare my map on the spot, giving the location of all the sites- springs- quarry &c &c. When all are with you I want an impression of Dr. Wilson & yourself upon the collection as compared to the Evans Place- Tell Dr. Wilson I think I will quit hunting up new places- if I can.

The ryollite specimens referred to in your letter- that is the knives were found on the village site. The quarry site seems to have been a primitive kind of factory- heavy mauls, hammers, pestles, & crystals, with stones for polishing- instead of pestles. I should have used the wood pick- I send a good illlustration in boxes by freight. The village site or sites is located on a high flat overlooking the Savannah River & Big Kiokee Creek. there is about one hundred acres of low land on River that the Negroes call “old Indian corn lands” The large ryollite objects are found in this bottom.

Village sites, quarry- botttom lands- shell heaps all belonged to one people- at least I think so for the same kind of shells as found in heaps, are found in sites, but not so abundant. I sent by mail a box of mateial, so you would not have to select out of the best specimens. I found four workshops with plenty of quartz chips few, scarcely any of other material- I think the flint & ryollite were put to use- the quartz does not flake. I hope to see you in July & have that promised day off-

Kind regards to all

Yrs. very truly

R. Steiner


[Acc. 39077 or 39097]

Grovetown Ga. Dec 6th 99

Dear Mr. Upham

When you open the boxes, I call our attention to a very large sharpening stone shaped [drawing] grooved through its long axis- I think the mystery attending the multi- pitted stones will be solved when I send on [illegible]* long & instead of pits have mortars on each side [drawing]- I have been so busy on the plantation I have not had time to pack & ship- This shipment will wind up the Kiokee, Quarry & village site. Tell Mr. Wilson I don’t know whether I will try & find another place or not, as he told me once “I must quit finding them” I think the Quarry & village site the most interesting spot I ever visited. I have about cleaned it up. I intend to examine the shell heaps thoroughly. I shall in a few days send on per mail the small objects from the Etowah Mounds to be followed by the Shoulderbone Creek objects- I shall send the pots & clay idols in a kerosene cask. Much obliged for the books- I shall drop in upon you in Jan & we will try some steamed oysters.

Kind regards to all

Let me hear from you after you open the boxes-

Yrs very truly

Roland Steiner


[Acc. 39097]

“Christmas Night” [12/25/99]

Grovetown, Ga.

My Dear Mr. Upham,

[illegible] in after my Xmas dinner, which I am glad to say was all the physical man could wish- Wish you had been around the bestive board.

Am glad that you have opened the boxes & only wish you had [illegible] me in opinion upon the contents. The pitted stones are the remainder of the “cache”. I wished to know, does the museum want me to send in the remainder of the objects-gotten from the Quarry & village site. What I have will wind up the [illegible] there. as I don’t think much more will be found. I will ship the Shoulderbone Creek & Etowah Mound objects in a few days- I will be on [illegible]you & would like to know if the Museum desires the balance of Quarry and village site objects sent on, [illegible]send before I get off & be there when they are opened.

As to the pottery & arrow heads in the Museum collection I don’t know whether they were from Mexico or not. I can only hold the collection was from Mexico- in all probability you are right, as I expect the old Dr. picked them up around Annapolis & added them to the Mexican collection.

Wishing you a happy & merry New Year, & compliments of the season to all in the office.

Yrs very cordially

R. Steiner

Please ask Mr. Wilson to ask Mr. Holmes whether the Quarry site objects are desired- they would make the site collection complete from fine triangular specimens in lot one over 3 inches long, & perfect. Many clear crystal points.


[Acc 6165; 39097]

Grovetown, Ga., Jan. 6, 1900

Dr. W. H. Holmes,

U. S. Museum,


My dear Sir:

I shipped to you on yesterday one cask containing one idol vase, one large broken clay idol & one small one, from the Etowah Mounds- one large broken pot & one small perfect one from the Shoulderbone Mounds; one large pot from large Mound at Hollywood, Richmond County, Ga. At same time 2 boxes containing Shoulderbone Creek objects. Today I send per registered mail 2 paper shoe boxes of objects from the Etowah Mounds- so that they would not be mixed by sending with the Shoulderbone Creek objects.

I have finished up the Quarry Site, and I have the specimens here. Is it desirable to have them with the other Quarry objects? Being all from one site, I though perhaps it would be desirable to add them to the others. Would be glad to hear from you on the matter.

Wishing you a happy New Year,

Yours very cordially,

R. Steiner.


[Acc. 39097]

Grovetown, Ga. Jan. 6th 1900

My Dear Mr Wilson,

I wish you a very happy New Year & many returns. You told me I would get the transactions of “the Society for the government of [illegible]” I have receive nothing so far. [illegible] a [illegible] of admission to the next meeting. I have sent on the Etowah objects as well as the Shoulderbone Creek ones. which I hope will interest you. Whatever became of the poaper on Allen Stephenson. I have written up lots of material on Negro folk-lore, which I sent Miss [illegible] to type- [illegible] for me, when I come on in Feb. Happy New Year to all.

Yrs [illegible] sincerely

R. Steiner


[Acc. 6165; 39097]

Grovetown, Ga. Jan 18th 1900

Dr. W. H. Holmes

U. S. Museum

My Dear Sir:

Some ten days since I sent by registered mail 2 boxes containing specimens from Etowah Mounds. I have no return P. O. receipt as yet. Have they been received, if not let me know so Postmaster at this point can trace them

Yrs very truly

R. Steiner


[Acc 6165; 39097]

Georgia Railroad,

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co. Lessee

Grovetown Ga.

Jan 17- 1900

Dr. W. H. Holmes

U. S. Nat. Museum

Washington D. C.

Yours received. I have no statement on cask containing specimen from Etowah Mounds & Etc.

Yrs very cordially

Roland Steiner







WASHINGTON, D. C., February 24, 1900

My dear Doctor Steiner:

I wrote you yesterday, but it was a mere announcement of my safe return home.

I have been over to see Paul Brockett about sendings of yours and this is about the condition in which I find them: The boxes containing the Etowah Mound objects, the broken grooved axes from Burke Co., the rubbing-stones from Burke Col, the pot from Rome, and the idol jug from Stallings Island, eight small pottery vessels principally from Fulton County, three large urns some of which are burial principally from Columbia Co. and the Ogeechee River- these I found all around on Mr. Upham’s tables and desk and Mrs. Malone is engaged in marking them. It will be apparent, therefore, that they had arrived and been opened before Mr. Upham left. I have to take them just as they appear and can get no information except what appears on the lables. Mr. U. is still in quarantine and will not be out until March 6th.

There have been received since Mr. Upham went home, either eight or ten boxes, I don’t know which, which are stored in the basement unopened. The R. R. reports that there are no boxes there intended for the Museum- that all have been delivered that have been received. I have not yet found any trace of the kerosene cask, but I understand from you that the large burial urns were packed in it. If so, the burial urns has arrived and no accound has been taken of the cask in which they were shipped. I give you the description of enough of these vases so that you will understand what they are and know whether they were contained in this cask or not. No. 171,801, large earthen vase found on the edge of the Ogeechee River below Midville, Ga., containing charred bones shell beads and fragments of pottery. No. 171,802, large vase from burial place in Columbia Col, Ga., on Mr. Bradmany’s place. Another large vase or bowl with ornamented with festoons of little rings, it is 14 or 16 inches wide and 7 or 8 inches high. There are half a dozen other pieces of pottery from Rome, Ga., 2 skulls and 2 femurs, 2 small dishes from a burial place Parachuckla, on the S. E. side of the Savannah River. There may be other things of the same style belonging together, but this will be enough to enable you to identify and say whether it is the contents of the kerosene cask. If it is, then I think you may assume that all the sendings that you have made have arrived. This being true, I will take no further steps in this regard until I hear from you.

I have sent the books and papers by the same mail that contains this, that is, another copy of the Swastika complete, the index and addenda for the copy you now have, and a copy of my Columbus address on the beginnings of the history of Prehistory Anthropology.

This attends, I believe, to all the urgent business with which I was charged except the letter about the Universities, and that I will endeavor to write today.

My trip to Georgia, where I rested so well, has, I think, benefitted me much. I do not find any ill effects of either it or my disease remaining, thanks to the good air and the many pleasant trips I had under your most hospitable direction.

Yours very truly,

Thomas Wilson


[Acc 6165, 6169]

July * 1900.

Dr. Roland Steiner,

Grovetown, Georgia.

Dear Sir:

I desire to acknowledge the receipt of two collections of archaeological objects and stone implements from Etowah Mounds and Shoulderbone Creek Mounds, and from an aboriginal village and quarry site, Big Kiokee Creek, Columbia County, Georgia, recently deposited by you in the National Museum.

Yours respectfully,

Richard [illegible]

Assistant Secretary.

(Smithsonian Institution Archives, Microfilm Reel ?:85)


Roland Steiner’s Contributions to American Folklore

Braziel Robinson Possessed of Two Spirits. The Journal of American Folklore 13(50):226-228. Jul.-Sep., 1900

“Seeking Jesus” A Religious Rite of Negroes in Georgia. The Journal of American Folklore 14(54):172. Jul. – Sep., 1901.

“Observations on the Practice of Conjuring in Georgia,” Journal of American Folklore 14 (1901): 174-75.

Georgia Archaeology Month 2007–A Review
July 21, 2008

Click on the link below to see the 2007 Georgia Archaeology Month Poster, Front and Back:


<a href=””><img src=”; alt=”ga arch. week 2007-4b”></a>

Click on the link below to obtain the Teacher’s guide by Catherine Long that accompanied the 2007 poster:


Click to access Teacher’s%20Packet%202007.pdf

Preview of Coming Attractions!
July 17, 2008

Take a Peek!

Take a Peek!

The LAMAR Institute team is currently ironing out the details for several exciting projects. But isn’t there an eye looking at you right now?

From Science Frontiers:

Curious Silver Crosses From A Georgia Mound

Silver cross extracted from an Indian mound in Murray County, Georgia

In November of 1832, two silver crosses were extracted from an Indian mound in Murray County, Georgia, along with more usual Indian relics. The crosses are exquisitely wrought and were most likely brought to the Americas by the expedition of Hernando de Soto. Some of de Soto’s men, under Adelantado, ventured into what is now Georgia trying, among other things, to Christianize the Indian.

The puzzle of the silver crosses is not in their source but in the crude figures and inscription added to one of them. The cross shown in the figure depicts a horse on one side and an owl on the other. The inscription (too small to be read on the figure) is withing the central ring and states: IYNKICIDU, which makes no sense in any known language.

This minor mystery was first revealed in the 1881 Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution. Charles Fort took note of it in his Book of the Damned, where he pointed out that the letters C. D, and K are turned the wrong way in the inscription and, further, that the crosses, having equal arms, are not conventional crucifixes. (Pontolillo, James; “The Silver Indian Crosses of Murray County, Georgia,” INFO Journal, no. 63, p. 26, June 1991.)


The above article refers to an artifact from the collection of Charles Colcock Jones, Jr., who is the subject of the LAMAR Institute’s “Skeleton in the Closet Initiative”.

Digging Augusta Georgia in 1980
July 9, 2008

Have you read this one?

University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology, Report Series Number 22.

Archaeology and Historical Geography of the Savannah River Floodplain Near Augusta, Georgia. By Daniel Elliott and Roy Doyon. 1981. (5.9 MB)

This classic study is available in .pdf format at the address below:

If Ronald Reagan had not been elected president, the Taylor Hill site described in this report would have been famous! And if John Lennon had not been shot on my birthday, oh well….

Memories of New York Cindy, Chicago Lil, Whipping Post, and shiny revolvers, Olde Towne on Greene Street

I wonder whatever happened to Roy Doyon? Maybe as do a few Viet Cong.

no joy in Lovejoy–CW battlefield to be revisited by NPS
July 4, 2008

[Elliott’s note: The Battle of Lovejoy was listed in the 1993 report, but it was not afforded the significance that it deserved. The NPS plans to revisit the battlefield and reassess its status.]

Kicking Out the Jams at Lovejoy, Georgia, ca. July, August, September, and November 1864

News from the American Battlefield Protection Program (National Park Service) website:

Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report Update & Resurvey

Congress has called for an update of the 1993 Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields to be undertaken by the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service. This update will identify preservation opportunities and reflect changes in conditions and threats for the 384 Civil War battlefields listed in the 1993 report. The final report is intended to not only provide Congress with an update of the 1993 report, but also to provide information for Federal, State, and local agencies, and non-profit organizations to aid in planning for the preservation of Civil War battlefields.

In order to update the report, The ABPP has undertaken a resurvey of the 384 battlefields. The study has been divided into two parts: surveys for each battlefield, and collection of preservation information from organizations administering battlefield lands. The size and scope of the 1993 battlefield Study and Core area boundaries are being reassessed and surviving areas that retain integrity are being identified. The preservation information being gathered for each site includes acreage of protected lands, documentation of existing site interpretation, and cataloguing of preservation activities undertaken since 1993. To date, field surveys have been conducted at 277 battlefields in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

More on Kettle Creek
July 4, 2008

Archaeologists seeking to solve Kettle Creek puzzles, asking for local folks’ help

Archaeologist Dan Elliott displays some of the artifacts his teams have found at Kettle Creek during the recent dig.

A group of archaeologists and historians have spent several days recently looking for missing pieces of the Battle of Kettle Creek puzzle, and they think the public can help them with the puzzle, too.

A team of archaeologists, historians, and students braved heat, thick woods, and impassable stands of thistles to explore the land around War Hill on a four-day fieldwork session June 12-17, hoping to locate artifacts from the Revolutionary War battle and, piece by piece, expand their knowledge of the battle.

On a previous visit to War Hill, archaeologist Dan Elliott of the Lamar Institute, Inc., and his teams had used metal detectors to find bullets and other metal objects that might have been left during the 1779 battle. They found some 32 possible battle relics, including round balls of smaller caliber bullets – buck-and ball load for non-military muskets. They also found, and recycled, modern artifacts including 15 pounds of shotgun shells, .22 shells, and beer cans.

“The way those battle relics were distributed on one particular side of the hill gave us a direction to search,” Elliott said Saturday as he examined the day’s first finds. “Based on that distribution, we got access from adjacent landowners so we could come back this week and explore areas we would expect to find the Patriot positions as they attacked the Loyalists.”

They have indeed found more bullets, and a distinctive shoe buckle from that period, part of a brass bell, and other objects. But the real value of the object is in the information that it gives about how it got there. “Each object tells us a little bit of the puzzle,” said Charles B. Baxley, editor and publisher of Southern Campaigns of the Revolution. “Dan Elliott is helping geo-reference with formal archaeology the history that has been passed down.”

Geo-referencing locates exactly the fall of bullets, for example, shot and unshot, to map exactly where the militia soldiers actually were during the battle.

That data will be combined with historical research, looking in library collections, deeds and plats, veterans pension applications and muster lists to form the most accurate history of the battle possible. “We’ll gather up all that archaeology and history can tell us,” Baxley said, “and hope that we have enough to tell the story.”

And neighbors in Wilkes County who have explored the area for years can help document the battle’s history. “We know folks have been out here with metal detectors for 40 years,” Elliott said, “and we’re not looking to prosecute anybody and we sure don’t need another bullet. But what we do need is information. We’d just like to know what you found, and where you found it, best you can recall. That information is what’s important to us, and any information could really be a great deal of help.”

To share information on old Kettle Creek finds, contact the City of Washington’s Main Street Manager David Jenkins in the City Hall Annex, or call 706-678-4654.

[EDITING NOTE:  Elliott, not Elliot]

Kettle Creek: Patriots 1, Loyalists 0
July 4, 2008

Kettle Creek dig providing new insights into 1779 battle

Mark Pollard, left, and Mike Benton search last month at the 1779 battle site in Wilkes County.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
A fragment from a Revolutionary War musket ball.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
Items discovered during archaeological digs at Kettle Creek are tracked with GPS coordinates so that clashes can be reconstructed later.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
The battle near the Wilkes County town of Washington pitted Loyalists against Patriots.

| | Story updated at 11:46 PM on Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – An archaeological dig in Wilkes County has opened a 229-year-old window to one of the pivotal points in the early years of the American Revolutionary War – and there’s evidence that it’s not exactly the way the history books tell it.

For centuries following the Feb. 14, 1779, battle at Kettle Creek, stories passed down through the generations pitted 350 Patriots against 700 Loyalists on only 12 acres of land.

But archaeologists have found evidence that the three-hour running battle stretched over at least 500 acres of property surrounding the traditional site where a monument and cemetery now stand.

Nine men and women working with The LAMAR Institute, a Savannah-based nonprofit archaeological research organization, last month unearthed dozens of musket balls, buttons, pieces of weapons and evidence of small farmsteads during a five-day dig on the 500 acres of property.

The study, funded through a $40,000, two-year grant from the National Park Service and the city of Washington, could lead to plans for a battleground park, city officials have said.

Each discovery in last month’s dig gave researchers a look into the day when the militiamen routed twice their number in new British recruits and made Southerners think twice about staying loyal to the Crown.

“This, by all accounts, was a guerrilla war,” said Dan Elliott, LAMAR Institute president and archaeologist. “This was neighbor against neighbor.”

And neighbors were definitely part of the battle – even if they didn’t want to be involved.

Evidence of at least three farmsteads – hand-wrought nails, collapsed chimneys and horseshoes – were found during the dig about 500 feet south of the battlefield monument, along with a few musket balls.

SLIDESHOW: Check out an audio slideshow as Dan Elliott with the LAMAR Institute talks about the Kettle Creek dig:

View slideshow

“Right now, we’re getting a rough idea of what life was like for people when this battle was raging on around them,” Elliott said.

The Patriots lost only seven men in the Battle of Kettle Creek, but dozens were injured and taken to a location north of War Hill – the traditional battlefield site – for treatment, researchers found.

Archaeologists found evidence during the dig to back up their theory about the location of this field hospital.

At least 18 buttons, likely from clothing that was ripped off men in order to treat their wounds, were found in one concentrated area – an unlikely discovery in an area that over the years has been picked over by artifact seekers, Elliott said.

The Kettle Creek battle was a vicious fight between Loyalists recruited by Col. James Boyd in South Carolina to fight on the side of the Crown and Patriots who were not ready for Georgia to be claimed by the British.

Historical accounts of the battle say an army led by Col. Andrew Pickens, Col. John Dooly and Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke tracked Boyd on his way to Augusta as he circled around through Wilkes County to avoid a Patriot army encamped on the Savannah River.

Pickens split his men into three groups and tried to sneak up on Boyd’s recruits while they camped at Kettle Creek, but scouts saw them.

Boyd was able to muster about 100 men to meet Pickens’ 140 at the top of a steep hill. Boyd was mortally wounded, causing the new troops to panic and retreat back to the camp.

Dooly was stuck in a canebrake on one side of the camp, but Clarke charged in from the other side.

In the end, 20 Loyalists were killed and 22 taken captive. About half the rest went back to South Carolina and the other half went on to Augusta, Elliott said.

Archaeologists believe they found the location of the Loyalists’ last stand.

Southwest of the traditional battlefield, metal detectors uncovered musket balls and musket ball fragments from a secluded hill off of Salem Church Road.

The fragments likely are evidence that musket balls hit trees as the loyalists crouched behind for protection, said David Battle, assistant director of the LAMAR Institute.

Researchers hope to label the musket balls as Patriot- or Loyalist-owned by determining the caliber and amount of lead found in each bullet, Battle said.

The rough terrain obviously was no problem for the Patriots, he said.

“These were woodsmen,” Battle said. “They were good shots who were used to fighting behind stumps and trees.”

Elliott said researchers likely will release an officially report of the team’s findings later this year.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 070308