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Journal of Northeast Texas Archeology
Limited archaeological investigations coupled with private landowner’s surface collections on Stone Chimney Creek in northwestern Cherokee County, Texas has resulted in the recording of nine new Caddo sites, several of which appear to have been occupied after ca. A.D. 1650 in the Allen phase. The landowner had collected artifacts on his farm and contacted the Texas Historical Commission (THC) about getting information about them, who in turn contacted the author, a member of the Texas Archeological Stewardship Network. The landowner was interested in learning more about the native inhabitants who had once called this portion of Stone Chimney Creek home.
Stone Chimney Creek originates in northern Cherokee County and flows in a southerly direction before joining the Neches River under present day Lake Palestine. The study area is some 4.8 km north of the confluence of Stone Chimney Creek and the Neches River. Stone Chimney Creek, in the study area, is deeply entrenched with a narrow floodplain and steep valley walls. Therefore, in the study area, there are no good alluvial settings for archaeological sites. Rather, archaeological sites are located on upland slopes or on top of upland landforms paralleling Stone Chimney Creek. Some of the site settings are unusual, being at the head of dry drainages and gullies, as they are in the adjoining Flat Creek basin and long distances (in terms of easy access to water) from Stone Chimney Creek proper.
The soils in the study area are of the Nacogdoches series, which are the principal red soils in the Redlands section of East Texas. The iron and red pigments in these soils permeate everything: skin, clothing, the outside of houses, even artifacts. Depending on the degree of slope, soil layers and fertility vary across the study area; the steeper slopes are heavily eroded. Parent material is greensand marl or glauconitic sandy clay and clay. Certain locations in the study area have been mined of soil for construction purposes. There is evidence of old farming activities, such as farming terraces, but currently large portions of the study area have been cleared and developed for pasture. This land clearing and mining provided good surface visibility at certain sites, resulting in some large surface collections from those areas. Shovel tests were conducted at six of the recorded sites and a 1 x 1 m test unit was placed in a midden deposit at 41CE426. This article characterizes the work to date on these Stone Chimney Creek sites, focusing mainly on five sites with the largest surface collections. The article concludes with a discussion of the broader character and cultural affiliation of these sites with respect to the recently defined Upper Neches River cluster of Historic Caddo sites.
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