Pan-Gens ask to have Batesville included on mound trail 6/14/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 14, 2013

Pan-Gens ask to have Batesville included on mound trail

By John Howell

The Panola Genealogical and Historical Society (Pan Gens) has asked the City of Batesville to move quickly to have the Batesville Indian Mounds placed on the new 350-mile Mississippi Mounds Trail announced by the Department of Archives and History (MDAH).

MDAH stated that when sites have been identified and approved for the 350-mile trail, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will begin construction of roadside “pull-offs” and placement of interpretive markers at the sites.

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Pan Gens President Tommy Toney sent messages to city officials June 9 to alert them to the need for the Batesville Mounds, also known as the Harmon Mounds, to be included on the trail.
The mounds are located on city-owned land between Highway 35 North and the Tallahatchie River. Indians of the pre-Chickasaw/Choctaw era of the Woodlands period between 500-1000 A.D. once inhabited the area in two villages whose populations ranged from 600 to 1,000, and built five mounds. The best preserved mound is 130 feet in diameter and is built 21 feet over the surrounding landscape, according to a 2001 archeological report.

“All of the mounds have suffered from vandalism, cultivation and erosion,” the report states.
The Batesville Mounds were entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

“If we could get the Mississippi Department of Transportation to put the sign up on (Highway) 35 at the Indian Mound site, all the City of Batesville would have to do would be to cut all the trees that now block the view,” Toney said in an e-mail to Pan Gens members. “Before the trees were there the Indian Mound was visible from the road,” he added.

“Professor (Calvin S.) Brown from Ole Miss made a comprehensive study in 1906,” said Pan Gens member Johnny Nelson, of the Batesville Mounds. Brown’s work, Archeology of Mississippi, has been reprinted and is again available.

In the early 1990s, the University of Mississippi sent a team that spent months at the site working with Batesville amateur archeologist Howard Mize. The preface to the report issued following the study cited the Batesville Mounds as “one of the most important prehistoric ceremonial sites in Mississippi.”

Funding for the trail marker project comes from an $800,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Mississippi Division of the Federal Highway Administration to MDOT.

Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey said Monday that Mendrop Engineering representative Lauralee Gann had begun work on an application for a marker for the Batesville Mound. Gann has been instrumental in preparation of applications for four new historic markers in Batesville whose applications were being shipped to MDAH on Monday.