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Popular among nineteenth-century American archaeologists, the Lost Race theory argues that American Indians were not civilized enough to have built the many earthworks and mound complexes—some of which covered hundreds, even thousands of acres—that dotted the landscape.

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Early in the 1870s Lucien Carr tested the mound, naming it after its owner, Robert Ely.

In Carr's 1877 report he described the mound, which had been in cultivation for many years, as a truncated oval …

Subsequent excavations have not occurred at the site.

Throughout much of the twentieth century the previous landowner refused to permit excavations in the mound or adjacent to it.

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There is a slight depression at the top of the mound that extends northwest to its edge, surface evidence of Carr's excavations during the nineteenth century.

Ely Mound retains much of its nineteen-feet height.

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Although the men were quickly dug out, Johnson was severely bruised and Cheney was dead; the weight of the soil had broken his back or neck. Two days of steady digging extended the central shaft and trench down to sterile subsoil.

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