Texas Historical Commission
Personnel from Coastal Environments, Inc. (CEI), Moore Archeological Consulting, Inc. (MAC), and the University of Mississippi conducted archaeological and geophysical investigations at the locations of two proposed safety rest areas on opposite sides of Interstate Highway (IH) 10 in Chambers County, Texas. The research was carried out from late August 2006 until late February 2007, under contract to the Environmental Affairs Division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). MAC archaeologists had previously examined the two rest area tracts in 2001. Their research indicated that the north tract contained a latenineteenth- through early-twentieth-century cemetery, identified as the Broussard Cemetery site (41CH370). Buried within the cemetery are the remains of several members of the locally prominent White family and relatives. The south tract included the remains of a below-ground cistern that likely marked the location of the main house associated with the homestead and ranch of James Taylor White II. It was estimated that this house location, labeled the White Family Cistern site (41CH371), was occupied from ca. 1854 until sometime in the early 1900s.
The field investigations examined three specific areas within the two tracts: (1) A small 20-by-45-m area situated about 10 m north of the Broussard Cemetery site where a truck-entrance road is to be built. It was considered possible that unmarked graves located outside the cemetery proper might be present in that area. (2) A 40-by-40-m area within the south tract where MAC personnel had located a piece of whiteware during their earlier investigations. It was thought that a possible outbuilding related to the White homestead might be present in that area. (3) A 110-by-115-m area in the south tract where the main house and most of the White family occupation occurred.
The area in the north tract was examined by ground-penetrating radar, resistivity surveys and mechanical stripping of anomalies recognized by the geophysical research. The small square area in the south tract was examined by systematic shovel tests. The large area in the south tract was investigated by systematic shovel tests, a metal detector survey, a geophysical search that included magnetometer and electromagnetic susceptibility surveys, a limited ground-truth assessment of selected anomalies that had been identified by the geophysical surveys, mechanical stripping of other anomalies recognized by the geophysical research, plus the controlled excavation of a few small units in locations where the stripping uncovered potential cultural features.
Overall, the various investigations identified the location, orientation, and dimensions of the White family house and its associated kitchen, a rich sheet midden situated to the rear of the house, and several possible outbuildings located to the sides of the structure. Numerous artifacts indicative of the period of suspected occupation were collected, including hundreds of pieces of metal, ceramic fragments, and glass. A few animal bones and plant remains also were obtained. Although the present study did not call for a detailed analysis of these items, such should prove useful in the future. Given these results, it is clear that site 41CH371 is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Additional archaeological investigations at selected portions of the site are recommended, along with further archival and historical research. Accordingly, construction of the rest area in the south tract should be delayed until the recommended investigations are completed.
The small area examined in the north tract near site 41CH370 failed to yield any evidence of burials. Since the cemetery itself will be avoided during construction, no further archaeological work is considered necessary in the north tract. Thus, construction of the rest area within the north tract may proceed as planned.
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