Mississippi’s Mysterious Missing Mound Complex —The Perkins Site

By Dr. Greg Little

In writing the The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks I found one intriguing mound complex that had been previously identified and surveyed in America that seemingly then vanished. This doesn’t mean it was destroyed. It means that those who surveyed and measured it, wrote about it, and gave its location apparently gave the wrong location. According to subsequent mainstream archaeological publications, this intriguing site has never been found again. The surveys of the complex show it to be somewhat unique for Mississippian-era mounds found in the south.

It is called the Perkins Mound Complex and the survey of the site was first released by Squier & Davis in their famous Smithsonian book published in 1848. The survey reveals a huge circular earthwork, 730-feet in diameter, with one gap in the outer embankment. Inside the outer earthwork were two large truncated pyramid mounds, and the largest supposedly had a square base of 150-feet and a height of 20-feet. The smaller truncated pyramid was only slightly smaller. Two other truncated mounds, both circular mounds, were also arranged between the larger square base structures.

Squier & Davis related that the complex was located “near William’s Bayou in the Choctaw Bend” of the Mississippi River, about 1.5 miles from the river. Many subsequent archaeologists and others have attempted to find it—to no avail. The closest town to the area is Scott.

Becoming increasingly intrigued by this mystery, I have since diligently searched more archaeological publications and found that others have proposed a variety of possible sites, all assuming that Squier & Davis had the site wrong. But none of the sites they propose match well. I have also discovered that the Perkins Site was named after the landowner, William P. Perkins, who moved to a plantation in this area in 1840. I then found an 1800’s issue of Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine, which accurately described the site actually giving a rough longitude and latitude. Using a 1926 book, Archaeology of Mississippi, I was able to better pinpoint the location. What shows on Google Earth at this area is intriguing and when the heat of the summer wanes, I hope that Brent Raynes will accompany me on an excursion to the site.