Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Arthur Tyler

Buried in a file at the Yates County Historical Society is another account concerning the Bluff Point ruins. Arthur Tyler was a schoolteacher who taught at the schoolhouse locate where Scott road intersects with Pepper road. Mr. Tyler left a set of notes with the historical society explaining his theories on the Bluff Point ruins and other issues concerning the early occupants of Yates County. The following is an excerpt from his notes. Apparently these notes were a rough draft and there were many mistakes. These mistakes have not been corrected and this information is presented as it was written.

Now I hate to explode a beautiful and well advertised myth that has been written down as history for so long; but this Historical Society ought to deal in facts and not fiction. It is in regard to the Mound Builders works of wonderful graded ways on Bluff point. It was mapped, surveyed and described by Dr. S. H. Wright in the 25 Annual Report of the Board of Regents. Mentioned by Davis in his history of Jerusalem and nearly all reference works on Indians since that time. It was 7 acres extent on hilltop hardpan where the soil is sometimes less than one foot above the hard stone and about a mile distant from any spring of water that was dependable. I began teaching school on Bluff Point in 1905 and boarded near this place. From then onward I sought in vain for any relic or fire pit or sign of stone aged man, I wanted some clue to the identify the makers. If I had found an empty broken jug or whiskey bottle I would have thought it was left by some other relic seeker so far away from the spring water all Indians sought in stone age days.
It remained for my brother-in-law, William Prosser, long the Highway superintendent in Jerusalem to find relics and solve the puzzle. The town of Jerusalem put a stone crusher near this place to crush the excellent road building material found there. In working they came across old broken steel drills and old drill marks in stone.
I am sorry folks but it was only an old abandoned stone quarry of the early white men. It may have been opened by legitimate owners, or it may have been opened by “Stone Pirates”, who like cattle rustlers and timber pirates did not advertise the activity at the time. It is my serious guess that the stone buildings in Penn Yan was quarried out right here.
The “modus operanda” was probably this. By scratching off the thin topsoil with hand operated horse drawn scrapers and dumping it well out of the way, the building stone was exposed where it could be quarried loaded on carts and drawn away without the trouble of using cranes, tackle and all the expensive equipment of pit quarries. Naturally the material was dressed to the desired shape right there and the wide thin area demanded disposal of debris in such a manner it made the stone work and graded ways. Probably an excess of finished building stones was piled up and never carted away. Because the building material is in wide thin layers made into a pit as we see elsewhere in stone quarries. Please bear in mind this is only my theory but I have been studying on it for 45 years and want to pass my results down to those who come after me. If some wild eyed citizen of unimpeachable reputation and veracity states he has found a flying saucer from Mars on his farm, history does not have to keep reporting this as truth.
Mr. Tyler’s papers show the extent that he researched the Native Americans who once lived here. His opinion is as valid as any other in this matter. I have been researching the Bluff point ruins for fifteen years and that pales in comparison to the forty-five years that Mr. Tyler studied this puzzle, but this author questions some of Mr. Tyler’s conclusions. As stated earlier I do not believe that this site was only a stone quarry. It is an establish fact that stones from the site were quarried for foundations on the Bluff. This fact would explain the drills found by the road crew. I don’t believe this site was originally created as a quarry. It seems unlikely that “Stone Pirates” would take time from their toils to layout neat rows of stone on edge in geometric patterns. I have never found any evidence of dirt piled up as a result of scraping it from the surface. The Wrights knowledge of geology was extensive and it seems unlikely they would not have known that this was a stone quarry. The fact that Mr. Tyler found no artifacts at this site does not mean that others have not. In fact people have found artifacts from many cultures in the area all around the ruins. Four native copper spear points have been found on Bluff Point. These are remarkable finds. The copper probably came from the shores of Lake Michigan where native people mined it. These spear points date from a time well before the Seneca made the area around Keuka Lake their home. The Seneca never used copper (until it was supplied by Europeans) because it was a material of their enemies. These types of copper spear points are very rare and the fact that four were found on the Bluff is remarkable.

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