Sketch outline of the Heim Mound, commonly considered to be a fox effigy.  

Sketch outline of the Heim Mound, commonly considered to be a fox effigy.

The following article, reproduced from a back-issue of “The Wisconsin Archeologist”, details the Society’s early efforts to preserve this special mound site:


 Charles E. Brown

Another Wisconsin effigy mound has been permanently preserved by being dedicated to The Wisconsin Archeological Society.

 Madison, Wisconsin, July 8, 1937.

          Mr. Charles E. Brown,

Secretary, The Wisconsin Archeological Society,

Madison, Wisconsin.


Dear Mr. Brown:

 On August 21, 1915, you wrote  to me in regard to the Indian mound  located   in  my  wood  lot  northeast of  the new  Middleton   highway number twelve.    In that letter you stated that you had made a careful survey of the earthwork and you enclosed a detailed tracing of it.  You also said in your letter:

 "I was very much pleased to find this remarkable ancient Indian earthwork in such excellent condition. No finer example of prehistoric Indian sculpture in earth exists anywhere about Lake Mendota.  I trust, therefore, that you will prevent any digging into it by relic   hunters and   do everything possible   to secure its permanent preservation.

"In  case  this  woodland  is ever  cut  up into  acreage tracts or lots for summer homes, I would suggest that you cause  this  mound  to be preserved in a small  public oval, or,  if  this  is  not  possible,  compel  its  future owner  to preserve it  by inserting such  a provision in the  deed."


On July  3, 1937,  a  plat  called  Heim's Woods  was  re­ corded   in  the   office  of  the   register of  deeds  for   this county.  This is a plat of the wood lot above mentioned. I am enclosing a copy of it for the files of The Wisconsin Archeological Society.  As agreed between you and my attorney, Leon E. Isaacson, a plot of ground in which the mound is located has been dedicated to The Wisconsin Archeological Society.

 It  gives  me  a  feeling  of  satisfaction  to  give  this mound to  your  society  and  to know that  it  will be pre­ served  for the future.

 I want to thank you personally for the suggestion contained in your letter of more than twenty years ago. I still have your letter and also have a clipping from the Milwaukee Sunday Sentinel of August 29, 1915, which de­ scribes  the  mound  in  detail  and  publishes  your  tracing of  it.    Undoubtedly,   when you wrote   the letter, you thought you were looking a long away ahead in predicting that “summer homes" would someday be located on the above property.  Little   did we then   think   that in about twenty years permanent homes would be built in this area.

 Very truly yours,

 Ferdinand J. Heim.


This effigy, representing probably a fox or wolf, was surveyed by the writer with the assistance of Professor W. B. Cairns of the University of Wisconsin and Mr.  Albert 0. Barton, present register of deeds of Dane County, on August 20, 1915.  It is located in woodland adjoining the new Madison to Middleton state highway.  It is near Pheasant Branch settlement and not far from the Lake Mendota summer re­sort settlement called Middleton Beach.

It is the  effigy  of  an animal  with  a pointed  nose, erect pointed  ears,  a  quite  long  body,  slightly   curved  tail,  and sturdy legs.   No effigy  just  like  it  is in any  of  the groups now or formerly existing about  Lakes  Mendota,  Monona, or Wingra  at  Madison.    Its  body, from  the  tip  of  its  nose  to its  tail,  is 97  feet  in length, and  its  tail  about  50  feet  in length.  The greatest width of its body is 16 feet.   Its legs are each 38 feet long.  Its body is 3 feet high at its highest part.

At the  October 18, 1937,  meeting  of the  Board  of Directors  of The Wisconsin  Archeological Society  the gift  of the Heim effigy mound was unanimously  accepted  by the  directors.  Mr. Heim's generosity and interest was recognized by his election as a life member of the society.

In an interview  with him on September 8, 1915, Mr. Heim stated  that  when his father acquired  this  land, in 1848, the Winnebago Indians  still camped  on it  and  upon the  adjoining farms. A favorite camp ground was on the Lake Mendota shore on the   present   Magnus Swenson estate.   The number of Indians which he remembers as camping in this vicinity was from thirty to fifty.   They lived in wigwams and existed by hunting, trapping, and fishing.   They were great beggars, stopping at the farm houses at all times for food supplies.  His father was obliged to erect rough fences about his hay mows in the Middleton Beach marsh to protect them against the foraging Indian ponies.

A few stone axes and a large number of flint arrowpoints were found in cultivating the land on the edge of the marsh. An oval mound formerly located here, just beyond the effigy mound, was leveled.

The Indian trail from Madison to Pheasant Branch ran across the Heim and adjoining farms.  Groups of Indians were continually passing over this trail on foot and on Indian ponies.



Article Taken from:  “The Heim Effigy Mound”, The Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 18, No.2, pp 39-41.  The Wisconsin Archeological Society.