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Builder Will Pay to Save Prehistoric Locations: Settled With State After Destroying Part of Ancient Site

August 1, 2008

By George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat, Ill.

Aug. 1–LEBANON — A home developer who destroyed part of a 1,000-year-old buried Mississippian village will pay $144,000 to help protect hundreds of other prehistoric Illinois sites, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency announced Thursday.

Home developer Thomas Bow, of T. Bow Inc. of Belleville, has agreed to pay the settlement to the state in compensation for what Bow has said was the accidental destruction of a one-acre portion of the village on what is known as the Pfeffer Farm site. This overall 10-acre site adjacent to Belleville Street lies about a mile from the village’s small downtown.

Bow could not be reached for comment Thursday.

“This will let the people know we’re serious about protecting these sites. But also the monetary compensation settlement will help pay for archaeology work in other parts of the state where it might be needed in the future,” said Dave Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The Pfeffer site has been listed for more than 20 years on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been periodically excavated by state archaeologists since 2001, But in late June, a 1-acre unexcavated remnant was destroyed by bulldozing for a road in the Waukanda Villages townhouse and villa project being built by Bow’s company.

Bow signed an agreement to pay the money and hire an archaeologist to preserve remaining remnants of the site located at the top of a small hill to the east of Belleville street, according to the state.

The site, known since the 19th century, was once a small Mississippian village occupied about A.D. 1050 to 1200. Earlier archaeological excavations discovered the buried remains of a templelike structure and several dwellings. An archaeological study has shown that early Native Americans from Indiana, Missouri and Northern Illinois converged at the Pfeffer site to form a village. Archaeologists believe these people may have helped build the huge Mississippian city complex now known as the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.

The former Native American village site being developed by Bow will feature townhouses, villas and small retail shops.

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com and 239-2625.

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