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National Register Eligibility Evaluation of Sites 41FB280, 41FB281, 41FB304, and 41FB306, and Assessment of Three Suspected Locations of Kirks Point Cemetery, on Former Knight Plantation and Harlem Prison Farm Property, Fort Bend County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
HRA Gray & Pape, LLC, of Houston, Texas, performed eligibility testing on four archaeological sites (41FB280, 41FB281, 41FB304, and 41FB306) located on the Aliana Development in Fort Bend County, Texas. Supplemental archival, oral historical, and geophysical research to investigate Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church and Cemetery (Site 41FB281); three suspected locations of Kirk’s Point Cemetery; and to further understand modern Prison era landuse on the Aliana Development, which is part of the former Harlem (later B.H. Jester) State Prison Farm, was also conducted. This work was an outgrowth of earlier cultural resource management investigations associated with the Aliana Commercial and Residential Development, and was conducted in order to comply with United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) permitting requirements associated with wetlands impacted during construction.
Previous intensive pedestrian surveys in the area indicated that these multicomponent sites may contain prehistoric and or historic resources eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). It was thought that Sites 41FB280, 41FB281, and 41FB304 might be associated with Antebellum and Reconstruction era activities on the former Knight Plantation. The Knight Plantation was owned by Colonel James Knight, one of the Austin Colony’s Old Three Hundred. He and his daughter Lucinda were buried at Kirk’s Point Cemetery, which is likely to be located at one of three locations investigated within the APE of this project. Site 41FB306 is a buried midden site that may be associated with similar midden sites east of the project boundary such as Site 41FB123.
Field investigation consisted of geophysical survey at all seven localities (Sites 41FB280, 41FB281, 41FB304, and 41FB306 and three suspected Kirk’s Point cemetery locations). The geophysical survey indicated that the midden at Site 41FB306 is likely to be intact for much of its extent; and that subsurface features consistent with grave like geometries are present at the three Kirk’s Point localities. Therefore, the Aliana Development revised the construction plans to avoid these four locations in perpetuity.
Geophysical survey was followed by machine scraping to search for historic features and or graves in portions of Site 41FB281 lying within the APE, and at Sites 41FB280 and 41FB304. The scraping revealed that the likelihood for graves or NRHP eligible resources outside of the Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church (Site 41FB281) is extremely low; however, a 30-meter buffer around the church property in the APE is recommended. The remainder of the multicomponent site is not recommended eligible for the NRHP due to severe impacts by prison era agriculture and low artifact density.
Test unit excavations were recommended at Sites 41FB280 and 41FB304 to further assess integrity. The results of the testing indicated that these sites have also been deeply disturbed by State Prison Farm agricultural practices. Sites 41FB280 and 41FB304 are therefore not recommended eligible for the NRHP due to very poor integrity and low artifact density.
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