Our Adena Ancestors in Kentucky

In Don’t Ask Me to Leave, protagonist Rachel Miller is introduced to the Adena culture via burial mounds and artifacts collected by her neighbor, Beau Samuels. The choice to include the Adena was a natural one, since it is a real part of the history of Kentucky–specifically, Montgomery County, where the novel takes place.

The Adena were a society that lived in Kentucky and a few other states (Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, to name a few). While we can’t be exactly sure, we speculate that they originate from the Early Woodland Period. The name Adena comes from the estate of an Ohio governor, Thomas Worthington, that he said came from a Hebrew name (read more about that at the Ohio History Connection).

Around 1792, settlers formed a new town that they named “Little Mountain Town”. The Little Mountain name was in reference to an Adena earthwork that was some twenty-five feet high and 125 feet in diameter, according to Tim Talbot’s Explore Ky. History. Unfortunately, Little Mountain was demolished in the mid-1800s to build a house. The dig revealed several skeletons and various other artifacts.

Shown in photo: the Gaitskill Mound

There were several other mounds in and around “Little Mountain Town”, which eventually came to be called Mount Sterling. The Wright-Greene complex was located a few miles from Mount Sterling and contained three (possibly four) mounds. In 1937, the mounds were excavated by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The University of Kentucky supervised the dig, and many of the artifacts and historical documents relating to it are housed in the William S. Webb Museum at the University.

Want a peek at some of the other locations and history mentioned in Don’t Ask Me to Leave? Check out the video below:

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