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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the 245.0-Acre Fulshear Tract, Fulshear, Fort Bend County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Land Tejas Companies, Ltd. (Land Tejas), to conduct an intensive cultural resources inventory and assessment of the approximately 99.1-hectare (245.0-acre) Fulshear tract in northern Fulshear, Fort Bend County, Texas. Land Tejas is proposing to construct a residential subdivision on the tract. The tract is bounded on the east by County Road (CR) 359, on the south by Hunt Road, and on the west by Pool Hill Road. The project area would consist of the entire 99.1-hectare (245.0-acre) tract.
The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by a private developer on privately owned land and may require a permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). As such, portions of the project area may fall under the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended (16 USC §470, et seq.). As part of its due diligence practices, Land Tejas requested Horizon to conduct an intensive cultural resources survey of the entire proposed 99.1-hectare (245.0-acre) tract.
From October 28 to 29, 2014, Horizon archeological technicians Jennifer Cochran, Briana Nicole Smith, and Jared Wiersema, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area to locate any cultural resources properties that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the 99.1-hectare (245.0-acre) tract in parallel, linear transects spaced approximately 30.5 meters (100.0 feet) apart and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. In general, the project area consisted of open pastureland covered in short to medium-height grasses with isolated copses of cedar and oak trees. Areas adjacent to drainages typically had a moderately dense ground cover of grasses, small shrubs, and weeds with thin bands of oak, hackberry, and cedar trees. Ground surface visibility was generally less than 30%, though some isolated areas were more or less clear of vegetation and offered better visibility. In addition, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require the excavation of 1 shovel test per 3 acres for project areas of this size; thus, a total of 82 shovel tests were required within the 99.1-hectare (245.0-acre) tract to meet the TSMASS. Horizon excavated a total of 101 shovel tests during the survey, thereby exceeding the TSMASS requirements for a project area of this size.
Two newly recorded archeological sites, 41FB340 and 41FB341, were recorded within the project area during the survey.
Site 41FB340 consists of a low- to moderate-density, surficial scatter of late 19th- to mid20th-century domestic and construction debris surrounding the southern arm of a large, artificial stock pond in the southeastern portion of the project area. Cultural materials observed on the site surface include whiteware and stoneware ceramic sherds, glass shards, several pieces of metal scrap, and a few hand-made brick fragments. The presence of a small number of solarized glass shards suggests a possible late 19th- to early 20th-century occupation, though the majority of the artifacts date to the early to mid-20th century. The artifact scatter is co-extensive with an earthen berm that serves to dam the stock pond, and most or all of the cultural materials are in heavily disturbed contexts. No subsurface cultural materials were observed in any of the 5 shovel tests excavated on the site, and no cultural features are associated with the artifact scatter. An abandoned, modified ranch house and an open-sided equipment shed or barn are located immediately west of the artifact scatter, and a second, more recent barn is located to the southeast. Examination of historic aerial photographs indicates that the currently standing house was constructed sometime after 1970 and replaced a smaller farmhouse present at the same location. The prior farmhouse is visible on historic aerial photographs from 1970 and 1953, though no earlier images were available; thus, the original date of construction of the prior farmstead is unknown. Nevertheless, the currently standing house was built after 1970 and is not of historic age. The equipment shed located north of the house was probably constructed around the same time as the 1970s-era house. The second outbuilding to the southeast was constructed sometime between 1970 and 1995 and is in relatively better condition than the other outbuilding. All 3 of these buildings are currently standing on the tract. However, the late 19th- to mid-20th-century artifact scatter appears to be associated with the previous (pre-1970s) farmstead rather than with the currently standing structures. As such, the currently standing house and the 2 outbuildings have not been included within the boundaries of site 41FB340.
Site 41FB341 consists of a low-density, surficial and shallow subsurface scatter of early to mid-20th-century domestic debris in an open cattle pasture located off the northern side of Hunt Road in the southwestern portion of the project area. Cultural materials observed on the site include whiteware ceramic sherds, glass shards, rusted metal nail fragments, and hand-made brick fragments. Cultural features on the site consist of a metal-fenced corral, a metal cow feeder, an electric water pump, 2 utility poles, and some barbed-wire fencing. The site represents the remnants of a 20th-century farmstead, though the primary residence has been demolished or removed from the site. Cultural materials were observed primarily on the modern ground surface, though subsurface cultural materials were observed in 3 of the 5 shovel tests excavated on the site extending to depths of 10.0 to 30.0 centimeters (3.9 to 9.1 inches) below surface. A house was formerly present on this farmstead a short distance northeast of the corral. Examination of historic aerial photographs indicates that this farmstead was constructed between 1953 and 1958 and is therefore of historic age. The house is evident on the 1971 USGS topographic quadrangle and is dimly visible on a Google Earth aerial photograph dating to 1995, though the next available aerial image, dated to 2003, shows that the structure had been demolished or removed from the site by this time.
Based on the highly disturbed character of the surficial and shallow subsurface archeological deposits and the lack of standing structures associated with the historic-era artifact scatters, both on sites 41FB340 and 41FB341 are recommended as ineligible for inclusion in the Based on the highly disturbed character of the surficial and shallow subsurface archeological deposits and the lack of standing structures associated with the historic-era artifact scatters, both on sites 41FB340 and 41FB341 are recommended as ineligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under Criteria C and D. The extant farm buildings on site 41FB340, including a house and 2 open-sided equipment sheds or barns, were constructed after 1970 and are therefore not of historic age, and no standing buildings are present on site 41FB341. Additional archival research would be necessary to evaluate their potential association with events or persons of historic importance under Criteria A and B of the NRHP. However, as 20th-century farmsteads are a common site type in southeast Texas, such sites must retain substantial integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association in order to establish significance under the NHPA. Given the highly disturbed nature of sites 41FB340 and 41FB341 and the absence of standing structures associated with the artifact scatters, it is unlikely that any possible association with persons or events of historic importance would be sufficient to establish significance under Criteria A or B of the NRHP. Thus, sites 41FB340 and 41FB341 are recommended as ineligible for inclusion in the NRHP, and no further investigations are warranted in connection with the proposed undertaking.
Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking, and Horizon recommends that the proposed undertaking be cleared to proceed relative to the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the NHPA. However, it should be noted that human burials, both prehistoric and historic-era, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified of the discovery.
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