Texas Historical Commission


HRA Gray & Pape, LLC, of Houston, Texas, performed an intensive pedestrian survey on approximately 777 hectares (2044.7 acres) of property on the former Harlem State Prison Farm, north and south of Oyster Creek in Fort Bend County, Texas. The United States Army Corps of Engineers was the Lead Federal Agency. Investigation included excavation of 919 shovel tests and 80 test trenches, and cutbank inspections, including portions of previously recorded Sites 41FB190, 41FB191, 41FB192, 41FB280 and 41FB281.

During this investigation, Sites 41FB191 and 41FB192 could not be relocated. Three previously recorded sites (41FB190, 41FB280 and 41FB281) and 10 previously unrecorded archaeological sites (41FB299, 41FB300, 41FB301, 41FB302, 41FB303, 41FB304, 41FB305, 41FB306, 41FB307, and 41FB308) were surveyed. Thirteen isolates were also recorded within the project area but not assigned site numbers. Due to low artifact density, evidence of erosion, and historic and modern disturbance to Sites 41FB190, 41FB191, 41FB192, 41FB299, 41FB300, 41FB301, 41FB302, 41FB303, 41FB305, 41FB307, and 41FB308, HRA Gray & Pape recommends that no further archaeological work be required at these sites.

HRA Gray & Pape recommends eligibility testing at Sites 41FB280, 41FB281, 41FB304 and 41FB306. Sites 41FB280 and 41FB281 are multicomponent sites. Historically, both sites appear to be related and can trace their roots to the slaves that originally lived on the plantations located here prior to the Civil War. Portions of these two sites may contain intact prehistoric and historic materials dating to the Archaic period. Site 41FB304 is a multicomponent site that appears to represent the remains of a mid-19th Century farmstead built on an older prehistoric site. Site 41FB306 appears to be a prehistoric midden site of indeterminate age.

Construction will not begin in the vicinity of the four resources requiring additional work until 2007. HRA Gray & Pape recommends that buffer zones be set up around Sites 41FB280, 41FB281, 41FB304 and 41FB306 that will permit eligibility testing, and a search for graves east of the fence of Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church (41FB281). A workspace along the north bank of Oyster Creek is also recommended to search for possible locations of Kirk’s Point Cemetery. A search for graves along the east boundary of Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (Site 41FB281) is also recommended.

It is also recommended that the project is cleared to proceed in other areas. This recommendation is based on the assumption that current construction plans do not change. Artifacts from all sites will be temporarily stored at the Houston office of HRA Gray & Pape. It is anticipated that all artifacts will be returned to the landowners. It should be noted that prison-made sugar millstone fragments found in riprap may be donated to the Texas Prison Museum, Inc. at Huntsville.

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