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Agency

Texas Department of Transportation Environmental Affiars Division

DOI

https://doi.org/10.21112/ita.2003.1.12

Abstract

This report signals the completion of a cultural resource consultation process that began several years ago. In 1998, a planning meeting was held between archeologists with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Historical Commission to discuss the planned improvements to State Highway 332 in Brazoria County, Texas, This work required a cultural resources surveys of many segments of the highway, one of which is adjacent to the historic Pioneer Cemetery, a predominantly African American burial ground in the town of Brazoria. Archeological investigations were conducted adjacent to the cemetery but within the highway right of way in 1998 and 1999, and the results of this work were reported in 2002. The investigations identified several unmarked graves that appeared to be within the highway right of way on the east side of SH 332. A subsequent property survey showed that three well-defined graves, and a possible fourth grave, were within the right of way and two others were very close to the right of way line. Following the state and federal cultural resources laws and the state laws pertaining to cemeteries in the Health and Safety Code of Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation undertook a project to remove and relocate the graves within the highway right of way. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., of Austin, Texas, was contracted to do the work (Contract No. 573XXSA001, Work Authorization No. 57304SA001). The exhumation of the burials took place from March 31 to April 3, 2003, and the remains were reburied during a ceremony held on April 4, 2003.

This report documents the excavation, removal, and reburial of three unmarked graves dating to the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. This archeological study brings closure to this project. From a historical perspective, the remains of three unidentified people—a young woman, an older woman, and an infant—provide a glimpse at African American life in turn-of-the century Brazoria. From a human perspective, the remains from each grave—all human bones, remnants of the wooden caskets, and personal items buried with the person—were treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, and all three have been reburied in a new location safely inside the Pioneer Cemetery

Licensing Statement

This is a work produced for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) by the report producer. TxDOT and the report producer jointly own all rights, title, and interest in and to all intellectual property developed under TxDOT’s contract with the report producer. The report may be cited and brief passages from this publication may be reproduced without permission provided that credit is given to both TxDOT and the report producer. Permission to reprint an entire chapter, section, figures or tables must be obtained in advance from either the Supervisor of the Archeological Studies Branch, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, 125 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701 or from the report producer.

 

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