By Thomas R. Horn
Picking up where we left off in PART 4 of this series, in 1882, the same year as John Wesley Powell’s published report, Powell appointed Cyrus Thomas to supervise the Division of Mound Exploration. Thomas was originally more than open-minded about the legends regarding an ancient and lost race of giants, as he had paid close attention to the reports concerning the discovery of gigantic human skeletons unearthed in and around enormous structures involving complex mathematics and astronomical alignment. But because he did not go around advertising his theories, there is much evidence that Powell would not have known Thomas was progressive in this “mythological” area when he chose him to oversee the mysterious mounds. Thomas would—at least initially—lead teams to document the discovery of impressive skeletons (though he steered clear of speaking of them himself).
The following is a brief list of documented findings, all recorded in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year […] series (each book title in the endnotes ending with the year the discovery was made):
- One skull measuring “36 inches in circumference.”[i] Anna, Illinois, 1873. (The average circumference measurement for the human skull is between twenty-one and twenty-three inches, depending on varying factors such as sex, ethnicity, etc.)
- One full skeleton with double rows of teeth, buried alongside a gigantic axe, referred to in the report as a “gigantic savage.”[ii] The skeleton—with a colossal skull—fell apart after exhumation, so an exact height/head circumference was not reported, Amelia Island, Florida, 1875.
- Giant axes and “skinning stones.”[iii] One weighed over fifteen pounds, had an ornately carved handle, and was of such mass that it was documented: “Only a giant could have wielded this.” Kishwaukee Mounds, Illinois, 1877.
- One jawbone that easily slipped around the entire face of a large man on the research team; one thigh bone measuring “four inches longer than that of a man six feet two inches high”; one “huge skeleton, much taller than the current race of men.”[iv] Kishwaukee Mounds, Illinois, 1877.
According to the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1883–1884, shortly following the discoveries in this bullet list, the Smithsonian team found ten more skeletons in mounds and burial sites in Wisconsin, Illinois, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Not every one of them was measured for height, but each was documented as much larger than the skeletons of our current race.[v] Similarly, in the Twelfth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1894, two enormous skulls, several baffling femur bones, and seventeen full skeletons (one in East Dubuque, Illinois, measured almost eight feet) were unearthed in Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.[vi] The West Virginia dig report contains an additional claim of “many large skeletons,” generically.[vii] From these reports listed, more than forty thousand artifacts were found, including weapons, tools, jewelry, and various utensils that could not have feasibly been used by regular-sized humans.
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There has been some indication based on later writings of Cyrus Thomas that he eventually did cave in to Powell’s way of thinking, likely due in part to pressure from the Smithsonian association, which contributed to the extreme reception of the Powell Doctrine in 1907. Following this, as mentioned prior, all theories, reports, or evidence that led to any discussion in opposition to the doctrine were silenced.
Outside news reports involving the Smithsonian’s knowledge of giant bones include:
- One skeleton of “a gigantic Indian,” discovered by the Smithsonian BAE’s own John W. Emmert. Bristol, Tennessee. Reported by The Weekly Democratic Statesman, 1883.[viii]
- One seven-foot, two-inch, giant skeleton with a copper crown on its head, “jet black” hair to the waist, possibly a royal leader, buried in a mound in a secure vault with undecipherable inscriptions carved on the outside. The relics were “examined by a committee of scientists sent out from the Smithsonian Institute,” and then “carefully packed and forwarded to the Smithsonian.” Gastonville, Pennsylvania. Reported by American Antiquarian, 1885.[ix] (Note that another giant with possible links to royalty was found by one H. R. Hazelton in Cartersville, Georgia, reported the previous year on July 23, 1884, by The North Otago Times. Though that discovery did not mention any links to Smithsonian involvement, it’s interesting to see that we have at least two possible “king” giants. The giant of Cartersville, Georgia was nine feet, two inches, had hair to his waist and a copper crown, and was surrounded by seven skeletons belonging to children, buried in a vault with under flagstones [both the vault and the flagstones were deeply etched with undecipherable inscriptions], and laying on a bed of dry grass and animal skins. Some have suggested that giants of Pennsylvania and Georgia were the same discovery due to the similar descriptions, and that the American Antiquarian simply reported the same skeleton later, listed fewer details, and stated the wrong date, location, and skeletal height. This is a possibility, but it’s just as likely there were two separate discoveries, one with the involvement of the Smithsonian, and one without, because of how dissimilar the reports were.)
- Water recession from the Tumlin Mound field revealed “acres of skulls and bones,” one of which was so massive, the article called “Monster Skulls and Bones” states that “their owner must have stood 14 feet high.” In the final sentence, we read, “A representative of the Smithsonian Institution is here investigating the curious relics.” Cartersville, Georgia. Reported by The New York Times, 1886.[x] (Note that this is the same city as one of our “king” giants of the last bullet. This “monster” was discovered two years later due to water recession [not an intentional uncovering of a mound] and reported to be much taller than the “king.” [taller than fourteen feet high])
- One eight-foot-two giant, well preserved, measuring at two feet, two inches across the pelvic bone. “About six miles” away from this find, “at the mouth of the Sioux Coulec,” a Smithsonian responder (referred to only as a Smithsonian agent or employee) “exhumed the remains of another skeleton the size of which was calculated to be about 9 feet in length.” Crawford, Minnesota. Reported by American Antiquarian, 1887.[xi]
- Many giant artifacts, eleven full skeletons, one with an enormous jawbone “twice the ordinary size,” discovered “by Warren K. Moorehead of the Smithsonian Institution.” Romney, West Virginia. Reported by The Baltimore Sun, 1889.[xii] (Warren Moorehead was not directly a paid employee of the Smithsonian, but through his archaeological work, he most often reported to them anything he found.)
- At least fifteen, and possibly as many as twenty (once pieced together, I assume), full skeletons discovered by “members of the Smithsonian Institution.” Natchez, Louisiana. Discovery in 1891. Reported by The Spokane Daily Chronicle years later.[xiii]
Besides the small sample (I personally have dozens more) above of the plethora of newspaper articles from the 1800s–1900s that provided reputable accounts of giant skeleton discoveries in early America, I have personally met individuals over the years who told stories of discovery that also seemed believable to me. Recently, one of our ministry supporters, Darel Long, recounted the following in an email and gave me permission to reprint it:
Dear Mr. Horn,
Recently I turned 50 years old and I will never forget what I saw when I was 10.
My grandfather, Filmore Frederick Thomas, had close friends who owned a cabin in the Virginia Mountains. It was common for my grandpa to visit the cabin and to spend time in the mountains in the summer during hunting season.
During one visit at the cabin, friends of my grandpa arrived joining us for what was supposed to be a relaxing summer day. I recall extended family, and a Mr. Wright, who decided to hike the woods where we followed a deer trail. For some reason, a family member returned to the cabin and my grandpa who had health issues, stayed at the cabin to fix a late dinner. Together, with adults and kids, a group of us numbering 6 people came upon various small caves that were much too small to stand and enter. Later, during our trail walk, we came across another cave that was large enough for the adults to walk into without bending over and hitting their heads.
Once we entered the cave, I recall two natural hallways. Since some of the adults smoked at the time they lit the way with their lighters. I recall one hallway was fairly short and we entered a small open natural damp room with stone and dirt walls that smell of something like heated honey. In the room we found a large skeleton and it was sitting beside a coffin. It appeared as if it was guarding the coffin without any form of defense items. I recall one of the adults estimating the sitting skeleton was 8 feet tall and the coffin, which was made of wood and adorned with copper banded construction, was also 8 feet long. The casket was highly deteriorated and from the light we cast across the room we could see more bones thru the wood.
When the adults pulled on the lid, it broke apart. I still remember the sound of the lid breaking apart.
To say the least it was fascinating to see these extremely tall skeletons….
I was told by my Grandpa later that contact was made with a local and nationally known college named Virginia Tech located in Blacksburg, Virginia regarding our finding and that members from Virginia Tech removed the skeletons. He was also told that a department of the government and military had gone to the site. I was never told which branches of the US government these were but my curiosity would rise again after my grandfather passed away. I personally contacted Virginia Tech by phone about a year after grandpa died and was told at the time there was no record of this event at the cave. After endless phone calls, no confirmation of the event could be verified. Regardless of the lack of assistance from Virginia Tech, I will never forget what I saw as a child and I’ll never forget the odd smell of the room where the large skeletons were found or how much taller the skeleton that was sitting was and how it towered over my ten year old height. Even then, I knew they were not natural.
It wasn’t until I came across Steve Quayle’s and your research that the memory of this finding fully came back to me. It’s been nearly 40 years since I witnessed the giant skeletons and your teachings have inspired me to return to the mountain to try to find the same cave entrance. This February, I will see if I can gain access to the area. I realize there was nothing that stood out about the natural cave room other than the odd smell of something like honey when its heated. A return to the same cave may provide a piece of the coffin, copper, or something that may offer something for your research, and if so, I will forward it to you. I have purchased a GoPro to record my upcoming expedition. It’s extremely cold this winter and I mainly want to find the cave above freezing.… Nonetheless I have the equipment to brave bad weather for 3 nights but I’m looking for a weekend above freezing.
I wanted to carefully recall these events and all I’ve shared is exactly the way I remember that unique day.
COMING UP NEXT: TIS YOUR CUE, DR HRDLICKA
[i] As recorded by T. M. Perrin, Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1873 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; Smithsonian Institution), 418.
[ii] As recorded by Dr. Augustus Mitchell, Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1875 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; Smithsonian Institution), 395.
[iii] Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1877 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; Smithsonian Institution), 260.
[iv] Ibid., 274.
[v] Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1883–1884 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; Smithsonian Institution). See pages 19, 35, 52–57, 62–67, and 98.
[vi] Twelfth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1894 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; Smithsonian Institution). See pages 113, 117, 273, 302, 335, 340, 362, 419, 426, 432, 437, 440, 453, 458, and 495.
[vii] Ibid., 436.
[viii] The Weekly Democratic Statesman, April 12, 1883. There is no author listed as this news is reported in general in the bottom paragraph of column two on page 6 of the paper. However, an image of the newspaper scan can be found at the following link, last accessed November 22, 2016: Library of Congress, “The Weekly Democratic Statesman., April 12, 1883, Page 6, Image 6,” Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83021327/1883-04-12/ed-1/seq-6/.
[ix] “Giant Skeleton in Pennsylvania Mound,” American Antiquarian 7:52, 1885.
[x] “Monster Skulls and Bones,” The New York Times, April 5, 1886. No author, as it is a short blip on page 5.
[xi] American Antiquarian: Volumes 9–10: Jan. to Nov. 1887, 176.
[xii] The Baltimore Sun, January 23, 1889. No author or article title, as it is a short blip.
[xiii] The Spokane Chronicle, June 21, 1993, 35. No author or article title, as it is a short blip.