Legendary Turtle Mound
N 42° 53.041 W 076° 28.060
18T E 380147 N 4748979
Quick Description: Marker is located at the intersection of Swartout Road and North Road in the Town of Owasco.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 5/10/2006 7:36:41 AM
Waymark Code: WMCA4
Marker was featured in a news article in The Citizen on Monday, May 1, 2006.
Owasco finally displays marker
By Amaris Elliott-Engel
A historic marker noting an indigenous burial mound in the town of Owasco has been kept in the Owasco town barn for close to 20 years.
But that marker was finally posted last week on the shoulder of the road next to a plowed farm field at the corner of Swartout and North roads.
Owasco Town Historian Laurel Auchampaugh isn't sure exactly why prior town officials didn't want the sign posted, but she is delighted that the state Department of Education marker has finally been put up.
The marker is simple, reading: "Cayuga County. Legendary Turtle Mound. Ancient Burial Site of the Owasco People. Town of Owasco 1987."
The posting of the sign came out of a conversation between Auchampaugh and the town's highway commissioner, Michael Wilson, said town supervisor Merrill Badman. Auchampaugh had never known what happened to the
sign, but Wilson knew it was still in the town barn, he said.
"I'm frankly glad some of our history is not going down the tube," Badman said.
Auchampaugh was involved from the beginning with the modern knowledge of the burial site. Remains from the burial site were found when the field was being drained for the planting of crops in April 1985.
Auchampaugh, also town historian at the time, was summoned because she had done research about the location of indigenous burial sites in Owasco. The state police and the then-county coroner, Dr. Janet Ross, also were involved to ensure the remains were of an ancient origin and not the result of foul play.
Carbon testing was done of the remains that revealed they were eight centuries old, Auchampaugh said. They were eventually reinterred during a ceremony involving two members of the Onondaga Indian Nation at another ancient indigenous burial site next to Porter Cemetery on Melrose Road.
Auchampaugh is happy that there is finally acknowledgment of the resting place of the indigenous group that lived in this area "prior to the Indian claim and that excitement and prior to (the formation of) the Iroquois Nation."
There are a total of three known indigenous burial sites in Owasco, she said: the Swartout site, the Melrose Road site and the ground below the Emerson Park playground.
European-descended settlers often made their burial grounds next to old indigenous burial sites, which was the case on Swartout Road, Auchampaugh said. Badman said that the cemetery on Swartout Road is undergoing some cleanup, including being cleared of brush.
She learned about these sites because of old oilcloth maps stored in the archives of the Cayuga County Historian's office.
One particular map of the Swartout location was in a book about Aurelius before Owasco was formed out of Aurelius' boundaries in 1802.
"It's been 21 years," Auchampaugh said. "I said to the men who installed the post that everyone deserves respect. I don't care if it's a Native American or a settler."
Marker Name: Legendary Turtle Mound
Marker Type: Roadside
Dedication Date: -9223372036854775808
City/Town/Village Name: Owasco
Region: Finger Lakes (Region 3)
Website: [Web Link]
Agency: Not listed
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