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DOI

https://doi.org/10.21112/ita.2012.1.7

Abstract

Our concern in this report is to present the archaeological findings from six Late Caddo (ca. A.D. 1450-1680) cemetery sites in the Little Cypress Creek basin in Upshur County, in East Texas. These are the Enis Smith (41 UR317), Henry Williams (41UR318), I. P. Starr (41 UR319), Herbert Taft (41 UR320), Frank Smith (41 UR326), and Frank Smith Refinery (41 UR327) sites. There are two other large Late Caddo cemeteries in this same area that will also be discussed herein: Henry Spencer (41 UR315, Perttula et al. 2012) and the Sword site (41 UR8/208).

These sites represent a group of generally contemporaneous Caddo sites in the Little Cypress Creek basin of East Texas (Figure 1) that were apparently occupied as late as ca. A.D. 1670-1720. Perttula and Nelson grouped them under the rubric of the Gum Creek cluster. These sites may represent some of the very latest occupied Titus phase settlements in the Cypress Creek basin.

The Gum Creek cluster Caddo sites were excavated by Buddy Calvin Jones in the 1950s and 1960s, but were never reported by him during his lifetime. After his death, his vessel collection and other artifacts were documented by Perttula, with the able assistance of Bo Nelson and Bobby Gonzalez, and at that point it became clear that a certain number of excavated Caddo cemeteries in the Little Cypress Creek basin - the Gum Creek area specifically-had a distinctive artifact assemblage (especially in the form and decoration of certain vessels) that sometimes occurred in association with a few European trade goods (glass beads and a metal hawk bell). Caddo sites with European trade goods are otherwise very rare in the Big and Little Cypress Creek basins, and it seems likely that most of the aboriginal Caddo populations had vacated the area by the very end of the 17th century. Those few sites that are left, such as the Gum Creek cluster and various sites along Caney Creek and Stouts Creek in Wood and Hopkins counties, Texas, may hold crucial keys in understanding this rapid abandonment of an area of East Texas occupied by Caddo peoples for many centuries.

Beyond documenting the collections from these sites, which consist of 259 ceramic vessels, seven ceramic pipes/pipe sherds, 30 arrow points, and one stone bead, now held by the Gregg County Historical Museum in Longview, Texas, as fully as possible given the vagaries of the available notes and records, we will also discuss the contexts from which they were collected by Buddy Calvin Jones. In providing these sets of information, we hope to make available for the first time useful archaeological information on the post-A.D. 1450 Caddo archaeological record of this part of East Texas. This information may then be used in conjunction with what is already known about the Late Caddo period archaeology of the region-especially what is known about the mortuary practices and beliefs of Titus phase Caddo groups-to reach broader understandings of the lifeways of ancient Caddo societies and communities in the region.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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