Little Mountain Indian Mound

Historical Marker #2290 in Mount Sterling notes the location of an ancient Native American burial mound that was leveled in 1845.

Mount Sterling, founded around 1792, was originally known as Little Mountain Town. It developed this name from the Native American burial mound that once stood at the present day intersection of Queen and Locust streets. One early-nineteenth century account described the mound as twenty-five feet high and 125 feet in diameter.

In 1845, the ancient mound was leveled to build a house. The site was excavated with the intention of making bricks for the house construction from the mound's clay. A letter to the editor of the "Louisville Journal" described that the mound was opened by digging away half of it. The article noted that several skeletons were found "in a good state of preservation." The bones were found in no particular pattern or position, and one of the skeletons had a string of shells around its neck. Also found in the mound were arrowheads, copper beads, copper and stone breastplate ornaments, and stone tools.

It is believed that the mounds in this region were built approximately two thousand years ago by the Adena Indian culture. The mounds served as burial, ceremonial, and historical landmarks for the ancient people. The mounds developed when deceased members of the group were buried atop one another in layers over the years.

Little Mountain Indian Mound also served as a landmark for early white settlers in Kentucky. Its unique shape made for a prominent point of reference. It was there that Captain James Estill and his party camped while in search of a Wyandot war party on March 21, 1782. The following day—not far from the mound— Estill and his men caught up with the Indians and fought a desperate battle. Estill was killed in the action and the settlers were forced to retreat.

Today, all that remains of Little Mountain Indian Mound is its long association with the town's current name.