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Slack Farm and the Caborn-Welborn People

Cover of Slack Farm and the Caborn-Welborn People

Slack Farm and the Caborn-Welborn People

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The Slack Farm site, as it is now known, was the location of a large community of the Caborn-Welborn People. This Native American group lived along the Ohio River near the mouth of the Wabash River between 1400 and 1700 C.E. Excavations began at the Slack Farm site in Union County, Kentucky in 1988 after the site was discovered and looted by several men in the area. Fortunately the looters focused on the grave sites alone, leaving the remaining 85-90% of the site unharmed. More than 500 volunteers from local communities took part in the archaeological dig, helping to preserve the history of the area. This booklet reports what archaeologists learned about the lives and culture of the Caborn-Welborn People after the intensive study of the Slack Farm site.

The Slack Farm site, as it is now known, was the location of a large community of the Caborn-Welborn People. This Native American group lived along the Ohio River near the mouth of the Wabash River between 1400 and 1700 C.E. Excavations began at the Slack Farm site in Union County, Kentucky in 1988 after the site was discovered and looted by several men in the area. Fortunately the looters focused on the grave sites alone, leaving the remaining 85-90% of the site unharmed. More than 500 volunteers from local communities took part in the archaeological dig, helping to preserve the history of the area. This booklet reports what archaeologists learned about the lives and culture of the Caborn-Welborn People after the intensive study of the Slack Farm site.

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  • The Caborn-Welborn People -- page 8

    At the opening of the fifteenth century, people living in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys reorganized social, political, and economic relationships. They no longer wished to be ruled by an elite class, choosing instead to live in small, widely scattered settlements. Local Mississippian chiefdom, such as Wickliffe, Kincaid and Cahokia, were collapsing at the same time the Angel chiefdom was declining.

    The changes taking place in the Angel area differed in many ways from those occurring elsewhere. The people did not completely abandon their homeland. Families moved downstream slightly, closer to the Wabash-Ohio River confluence. They also reorganized their living arrangements. Instead of concentrating in one community, they lived in one of several villages located within a 37 mile area along both sides of the Ohio River in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky: Slack Farm, Shawneetown Bridge, Blackburn, Bone Bank, Welborn, Murphy, Hovey Lake, Alzy, and Caborn; or in the nearby smaller settlements.

    Unlike many other Mississippins, these people expanded trading relationships with lower Mississippi Valley chiefdoms located to the southwest. They also established new trading relationships with Oneota tribal groups to the north and with Mississippian chiefdom societies to the southeast.

  • Homes -- page 12

    The men and women of each family worked together to make their one-room houses. Often they dug a large, shallow pit to position the house floor below ground level. Along the house edge they placed wall posts cut from tall, straight trees into trenches dug into the ground. They wove wall frameworks from saplings and branches, then plastered over them with a mixture of mud and grass. Soil from the pit was banked along the outer walls of the house to create extra insulation.

    Women smoothed the plaster and sometimes decorated the house walls with painted symbols in different colors. larger wooden posts supported steeply pitched roofs made of grass thatch tied to a framework of poles.

    All houses were rectangular. They measured around 15 to 20 feet on a side. Houses of this size were large enough for 5 to 7 people, including a husband and wife, their children, and one or two other relatives. these might have been an aging mother or father, or an unmarried sister or brother.

Table of Contents-
    • Prologue: Incident at Slack Farm
    • The People
      • Early Ancestors
      • Mississippians
        • The Angel People
        • The Caborn-Welborn People
    • Caborn-Welborn Lifeways
      • Settlements
      • Homes
      • Women and Men's Roles
      • Social Organization
    • Foodways
      • Plant Foods
      • Animal Foods
    • Trade
    • Health
    • Epilogue: Site Protection and Preservation
Title Information+
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    Kentucky Archaeological Survey
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Slack Farm and the Caborn-Welborn People
Slack Farm and the Caborn-Welborn People
David Pollack
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