Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
January 28, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
II PREHISTORIC MONUMENTS.
Little is known of the ancient inhabitants of our land. Little can be learned of the life and habits, the origin and history of a people who have left no buildings and no writings: and this may be said in a general way of the aborigines of Acadia; for the buried hut bottoms found in many places can scarcely be called ruined buildings, and, with the exception of the inscriptions mentioned below, the few Indian writings now known to exist are scarcely worthy of mention.
Whether the forefathers of our Indians were the earliest inhabitants of this region, is a question which may perhaps never be satisfactorily answered; but there is at least some little ground for the opinion that they were preceded by a people of different race and habits.
The Passamaquoddies have a tradition of the existence of such a people, whom they call Caansoos, or Konsoos, (plural, Konsoosuk,) and who, they say, disappeared and went to live in the under world. When they find stone implements of which they do not know the use, they speak of them as left by the Konsoosuk.1
Stories current some twenty or thirty years ago, about a stone altar said to have been found somewhere in the interior of the country, and ruins of a temple on one of the hills overlooking Lake Utopia, must be discredited because unsupported by later observations. But most people living in the east of this county have either seen or heard of the Laney stone, a slab of red granite found at Lake Utopia about twenty-five years ago, on one side of which was carved in relief the representation of a human head.2 It seems had to believe that such work could have been done without metal tools; yet the pioneers of Acadia found no metal tools in use among the natives. Unless this unique carving is of comparatively recent date, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is a relic either of an extinct people or of a prehistoric settlement of Europeans here; in which case, it is strange that no further traces of such a people have been seen.3 Some artificial arrangement of stones, some terraces or excavations, some greater earthworks than those of the beaver, might surely be expected. Will they ever be found? That such remains of a former civilization might exist, as yet unnoticed, is not incredible, when we consider how little trace is left of the dwellings of our own people, even in places where inhabited houses have stood within the memory of living men.
Mr. George Creed, of South Rawdon, N. S., has carefully examined and made numerous fac-similes of some strange inscriptions on the rocks on the shores [sic] a small lake4 in that province, an account of which he has prepared for publication. The characters differ from those which the early missionaries found in use among the Micmacs and no one has yet been able to interpret them. Possibly the faces of some of our cliffs bear similar records, over which the grey lichens have written their story of desolation, or the soft green mosses, fit emblems of oblivion, have drawn their thickest veil. Anything resembling the work of human hands is worth investigating.5
1The statement is made on the authority of Mrs. W. Wallace Brown, of Calais. Mr. Brown was formerly Indian agent, and still takes an active interest in matters relating to the Indians; and Mrs. Browns patient study of the language and the traditions of the Passamaquoddies has made her the leading authority on the subject.
2Mr. Edward Jack was a resident of St. George when this piece of sculpture was found, and knew the stone mason who discovered it as he was looking on the shores of Lake Utopia for material for his work. Turning over this block of stone, the mason noticed the face, and carried it home. His wife objected to its presence there, because it glowered at her; so, in order to keep peace in the family, the husband disposed of it to Mr. A. J. Wetmore, then collector at the port of St. George.
3This carved stone is now in the museum of the Natural History Society, at St. John. It is figured in Field and Forest Rambles, by Dr. A. Leith Adams; one of the most interesting books ever published about New Brunswick. A faithful copy of the carving on it, and a plan of the locality in which it was found, are given in a paper by I. Allen Jack, D.C.L., of St. John, included in Miscellaneous Papers relating to Anthropology, published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1881. His conclusion is that the stone is a genuine relic of an age ante-dating the period of British, and probably that of French occupation; and that the carving was intended to represent the head of a deceased Indian at whose grave it was probably originally placed.
4Fairy Lake, an arm of Lake Kejumkoojic. Some of the Indians believe that these and similar carvings are made by the Oonaagmessuk, mythical beings who live among the rocks. (See Passamaquoddy Folk-Lore, by Prof. J. Walter Fewkes, in Journal of American Folk-Lore for December, 1890.) When Mrs. Brown was about to visit Fairy Lake, for the purpose of studying the inscriptions, she was told by the Indians here to listen when all was quiet, and hear Oonaagmess at work.
5A curiously marked stone found at Ministers Island is described by W. F. Ganong, M.A., in an illustrated article in the University [of N. B.] Monthly for March, 1885. The stone is now in the museum of the university at Fredericton; and the markings are thought by some to have been made by the Indians, long prior to the advent of Europeans. An article in the Canadian Indian, for June, 1891, discusses supposed pictographs in New Brunswick.
Addition: Article XLIV contains the following addition to this one: "In the third foot-note it is stated that the carved stone found at Lake Utopia is in St. John. Since the article appeared in print the stone has been sent to the Smithsonian Institution."
Correction: Article XLVI contains the following correction to the foregoing note: "The note at the end of Article xliv. concerning the carved stone of Lake Utopia is incorrect; the stone is still in the museum of the Natural History Society, in St. John."