A Man and a Mound: Henschel’s Indian Museum and Trout Farm
Mid-19th century, Gary Henschel’s great-great-grandfather was plowing fields; the ground opened, he fell in, accidentally discovering a paleo-Indian burial mound, thousands of years old. Archaeological teams from University of Wisconsin explored his Red Ochre mound (Henschel demonstrates this natural dye in the picture). At this mound, they excavated, examined and re-buried a young girl interred long ago. Henschel’s museum is now filled with pot shards, projectile points, atlatls, and everyday items recovered from land once occupied by an indigenous population (the generic term for this long-gone culture is “Hopewell”). Respectful of First Nations people, Henschel recreated the burial vault his ancestor discovered, containing two concentric half-circles of skeletons surrounding a conch shell from the Gulf of Mexico. Based on markers he’s uncovered, Henschel believes his mound is astrologically aligned with equinoctial sunrises. Many effigy mounds also dot the property. The museum, though off-road, is accessible; from The Osthoff Resort on Elkhart Lake, it’s a 12-minute drive. “We get about nine tourists every day,” said Henschel, “but all of them are people who come here, specifically” – there are no carloads just exiting the highway to use the bathroom; everyone who stops is coming to see Henschel’s discoveries…or to fish. Henschel maintains a trout pond on his property; he’ll clean and dress everything you catch ($6.99/pound). You’ll enjoy making his acquaintance.