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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the 6.4-acre Bonnie Reid Tract, Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by LJA Engineering, Inc. (LJA) on behalf of Fort Bend Levee Improvement District (LID) No. 7 to conduct an intensive cultural resources inventory and assessment of the 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) Bonnie Reid tract in western Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas. The tract is located at the southwestern corner of the intersection of Pecan Grove and Sartartia Road within an older rural residential subdivision surrounded by modern residential subdivisions. A small homestead complex owned and occupied by William and Bonnie Reid until recently is located in the north-central portion of the tract. For purposes of the cultural resources survey, the project area was considered to consist of the entire 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) tract. The proposed tract would be developed into a storm water detention pond, and the maximum depth of impacts is anticipated to be 3.0 to 4.5 meters (10.0 to 15.0 feet) below surface. The proposed undertaking would be sponsored by Fort Bend LID No. 7, a political subdivision of the state of Texas; as such, the project would fall under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas. As the proposed project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking, the project sponsor is required to provide the Texas Historical Commission (THC), which serves as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for the state of Texas, with an opportunity to review and comment on the project’s potential to adversely affect historic properties listed on or considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under the NHPA and/or for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) under the Antiquities Code of Texas. At this time, no federal jurisdiction has been identified for the project. On June 10 and 11, 2020, Horizon archeologists Jesse Dalton 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 that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. The survey was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 9478. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area on foot and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The project area is situated on the northern terraces of the Brazos River. Vegetation across the majority of the project area consists of an expansive, manicured grassy lawn dotted with occasional live oak trees associated with the Reid homestead in the north-central portion of the tract. The southern portion of the project area is heavily overgrown with dense brambles, vines, and tall grasses. Prior to the purchase and development of the property by the Reid family in 1970, the parcel was part of a larger farm and was characterized by active agricultural fields. Additional disturbances associated with residential landscaping were observed in the north-central portion of the tract surrounding the Reid homestead. Ground surface visibility was generally low (<20%) due to dense vegetative ground cover. In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of two shovel tests per 0.4 hectare (1.0 acre) for projects measuring 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres) or less in size plus one additional shovel test per 2.0 hectares (5.0 acres) beyond the first 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres). As such, a minimum of 13 shovel tests would be required within the 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) project area. However, the project area is situated on the terraces of the Brazos River and is characterized by the Pledger clay soil unit, a Quaternary-age clayey alluvial sediment with the potential to contain archeological deposits at depths exceeding those that can be reached in shovel tests. As such, Horizon conducted subsurface survey investigations by means of backhoe trenching rather than shovel testing. The TSMASS call for excavation of one backhoe trench per two shovel tests; as such, a minimum of seven backhoe trenches would be required within the 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) project area. Horizon excavated a total of seven backhoe trenches during the survey, thereby meeting the TSMASS requirements for a project area of this size. Backhoe trenches revealed relatively consistent stratigraphic profiles consisting of a surficial black clay horizon that probably represents a former plowzone underlain by clay sediments ranging in hue from yellowish-red to brownish-red extending to the bases of the trenches. Calcium carbonate filaments increased in density with depth, suggesting that the clayey soil profile has remained relatively stable and been undergoing pedogenetic development for some time. While the full depth of alluvial sediments was not necessarily penetrated in backhoe trenches, the lack of any inclusions or anomalies suggestive of prehistoric cultural activity in trenches suggests that trenching was capable of adequately penetrating sediments with the potential to contain prehistoric and historic-age cultural resources. One newly recorded archeological site, 41FB365, was documented during the cultural resources survey of the Bonnie Reid tract. Site 41FB365 consists of a cluster of late 20th-century buildings located on a small rural residential tract at the corner of Pecan Grove and Sartartia Road in Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas. The homesite was the residence of William and Bonnie Reid, who moved to Sugar Land from Oklahoma after getting married in 1960 to start a family. Currently, the homestead consists of four buildings, including a single-story, brick-clad house (Resource A); an open-bay garage with an attached storage shed (Resource B); a well pump house (Resource C); and a small equipment shed (Resource D). The only historic-age structure on the site is the house, which was constructed in 1970, and the various outbuildings were constructed over the following decade. No other historic-age structures are present on the site, and no archeological deposits associated with any historic-age occupations of the property were observed during the survey. Based on the largely modern character of the architectural features on the homestead, a lack of significant historical associations, and the absence of archeological deposits, the site is recommended as ineligible for inclusion in the NRHP and for designation as an SAL. 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. In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good-faith effort to identify historic properties within the project area. No cultural resources were identified within the project area that meet the criteria for designation as SALs according to 13 TAC 26 or for inclusion in the NRHP under 36 CFR 60.4. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected,” and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, 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 in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the THC should be notified immediately. Following completion of the project, project records will be permanently curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL).
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