Romeoville is located in Will County, on the southwest edge of metropolitan Chicago. The town was first settled in the 1840s, during the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.
Well, maybe not. On this date in Chicago history, the headline read “Ancient Human Bones Found in Romeoville.”
The bones had been discovered at a construction excavation. They were sent then to the Illinois Archeological Survey in Champaign. Carbon dating determined that the remains were from people who lived between the years A.D. 70 and A.D. 200, give or take 80 years.
It was lucky that the bones had been preserved for so many centuries. And it was even luckier that they had been given to scientists to study. After all, developers were not archeologists. No one knew how many prehistoric sites had been destroyed because the man with the shovel didn’t realize what he had uncovered.
The Romeoville bones were not the oldest found in the Chicago region. Remains over 10,000 years old had turned up in Orland Park. But scientists now had another piece to add to the puzzle of how ancient people had lived.
“It appears that this was a fairly tough, hard, and strenuous life,” one archeologist said. “Just surviving was a constant struggle. You froze in the winter and fried in the summer. You grew your own food or you hunted for it–and sometimes the animals came hunting for you. If the wolves and the bears didn’t get you, then a disease would. If you made it to 40, you were considered old.”
By state law, the Romeoville bones were to become the property of an institution with archeological interests. The Field Museum was suggested as one possible recipient. No mention was made of any native tribes stepping forward to take custody of them.
And that appears to be the end of the story. Today, no one in Romeoville seems to know what finally happened to their ancient bones.