Last night on the History Channel H2, we had another new episode of America Unearthed entitled, ′The Blood Stone′. Forensic geologist Scott Wolter gets a tip from Dr. Scott Mastores, M.D., about the Waubonsee Stone in Chicago, Illinois. Carved upon a 3,000 pound granite boulder is a man′s face, said to be that of Chief Waubonsee of the Pottawatomie Tribe in the early 19th Century. The boulder was originally located along the Chicago River about a half a mile inland from Lake Michigan. First mention of it was around 1804 when the future city consisted only of one settler′s home and Fort Dearborn. Legend suggests that an American soldier carved the face on the stone as a tribute to the Chief, who was a good friend for the most part. But, during the War of 1812, the Pottawatomie Tribe sided with Tecumseh and the British and attacked the fort. The inhabitants surrendered the fort but destroyed all of the guns and alcohol, making the natives angry and led to a massacre. So the job Scott Wolter has is to determine if the legend of the stone is true, or is it much older than the alleged 200 years?
First, I should point out that there are many spellings for the chief, the tribe and the stone. We have Waubansee, Wabaunsee, Wabaunsie, Wabonsie, as well as Potawatomi for the tribe. So take your pick! Back to our story, the two Scotts meet in Chicago and go for a boat ride up the Chicago River. Dr. Mastores points out the location near what is now the Michigan Avenue Bridge as to where Fort Dearborn had once been. They next head to a museum to see the actual stone, but its not there! Peter Alter, the museum′s archivist, informs them that they have some 22 million items in their collection and can only display a small fraction. Under an oath of secrecy, he agrees to take the two Scotts to a storage facility.
Scott Wolter gets to eyeball the actual stone at the secret location. He is impressed and notices that the stone has been altered. Peter tells him that in the 1920s, somebody had the bright idea to turn the stone into a drinking fountain. The top of the stone has a large bowl-shaped depression in it, so it must have seemed natural. Wolter also notices that there are some over-flow channels cut into the stone, as well as ′stone holes′. Possibly indicating that the stone was used as a ′marker stone′ to guide travelers up the river. At the time, there was an active link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River along the Chicago Portage. A muddy river connecting the Chicago River with the Mississippi.
The two Scotts speculate that the Waubonsee Stone was definitely a ′standing stone′, meaning that it was placed erect by humans and not just there naturally. They are also having a hard time believing the legend about a soldier carving the likeness of Chief Waubonsee. The face is bearded and images of the chief show him to be clean shaven. Also, the expression of the face, with an open mouth and closed eyes resembles more of an ancient death mask which many cultures used in rituals. This leads them to suspect that it may be much older than 200 years, possibly made by the Mound Builders, the Mississippian Tribe, or even the Aztecs. Dr. Mastores evens wonders if it was made by the Phoenicians?
The bowl on the top of the stone might indicate that it was used for blood sacrifices, perhaps for animals or even young children and babies. Yuk! And people have been drinking from it? Ewww! Wolter meets up with John R. Schmidt, a local historian and expert on Fort Dearborn. He gives Scott background on the Battle of Fort Dearborn, formerly known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre in politically incorrect times. As the White settlers and soldiers left the fort after surrendering, they were ambushed and slaughtered until Chief Waubonsee stopped them. In later years, the chief also kept his tribe out of other skirmishes.
Scott then meets with Brad Olsen, a local expert on the Chicago Portage. Olsen believes that the Waubonsee Stone is Phoenician in origin. He tells Scott that it is similar to other examples of Phoenician Tophets, an altar used for ritual child sacrifices. Wolter brings up his previous investigations on the Minoans and the Copper Culture of the Great Lakes and speculates that the Phoenicians may have been partners with the Minoans. Olsen shows Scott photos of another possible tophet found in Florida called the Sea Market Altar Stone. It is nearly identical with the Waubonsee Stone.
Olsen suggests that Scott contacts Wayne May, publisher of Ancient America Magazine for more information. Wolter knows Wayne well and calls him about an artifact that Olsen claims May has. Wayne tells Scott that he no longer has it, that he sent the artifact to Wolter! Scott calls his wife and she finds the package in their basement. Mrs. Wolter overnights the package back to Wayne and Scott joins him to open it. Inside is an Egyptian statuette called a Ushabti. These were buried with the dead and believed to serve the dead in the afterlife. What makes this one so special is that it was found just north of the Chicago Portage along the Des Plaines River. Here, again, we have another link to the possible trade route by which the Phoenicians or Minoans may have used to obtain copper from the Great Lakes. But Egyptians, too? Well, according to Wayne, many of the sailors of Phoenician ships were from Egypt. So, it might be that an Egyptian sailor lost it during his travels or traded it with the local natives. It does make you wonder what an ancient Egyptian artifact is doing buried in rural, northern Illinois, now doesn′t it?
So, to wrap up this episode of America Unearthed, Scott Wolter is pretty convinced that the old story about an America soldier from Fort Dearborn carving the Waubonsee Stone is probably wrong. The stone may have been an altar used by Phoenicians or other Old World travelers as they sought out copper and other valuable trade items from North America. Or, it could be a relic from the Mound Builder tribe, the Mississippians, and be over a thousand years old. The carving looks nothing like Chief Waubonsee and resembles more of a death mask. One thing is certain is that it is a mysterious artifact and perhaps another clue to the mysterious history of ancient America. Also, that I am still ′icked-out′ by the dummies who turned this stone into a drinking fountain after it may have been used to sacrifice babies in. YUK!!!