Texas Historical Commission
On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), AmaTerra Environmental, Inc. (AmaTerra) conducted an intensive archeological survey of the 8.2-acre Wooten Parcel as part of the proposed Interstate 10 highway expansion near Columbus, Colorado County, Texas. Work consisted of visual inspection of the entire project area, including 100 percent pedestrian survey, excavation of 37 shovel tests, and excavation of 8 backhoe trenches. Fieldwork was conducted from September 3-5, 2019, and from September 10-13, 2019 by a team of two archeologists. The Harbert Plantation, site 41CD136, is a previously recorded historic planation site located within the proposed right of way situated on the Wooten Parcel. The site also served as a hub for sharecropping endeavors of the early twentieth century. The existing complex of historic structures, while not part of the original plantation, sit on top of the center of the plantation complex. Personal communication with Mr. James Wooten, the landowner, suggested that graves might be present in a small area of the eastern parcel. While scraping of this area had been planned, field conditions dictated otherwise, and a pair of long, shallow, wide trenches revealed no indication of any potential grave shafts. Mr. Wooten also indicated that his barn currently sits atop the location where the original plantation house stood and is partially constructed of reclaimed wood from the razed original structure. Two water features associated with the original plantation are present; a hand dug well and a below-ground cistern, the latter of which is in good condition and provides a local example of early water storage devices during the Antebellum period in this area of Texas. One architectural feature was also discovered during trenching: a single brick pier footing possibly associated with a slave dwelling. Field investigations demonstrated that much of the original plantation is gone or heavily disturbed with a near ubiquitous distribution of historic artifacts across the site. The shallow upland soils containing the cultural material are so churned that it is nearly impossible to accurately discern the plantation occupation from the sharecropping occupation and/or any other activities that may have occurred historically at this site. While the majority of site 41CD136 within the proposed new right of way is considered not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL), the preserved below-ground cistern related to the original plantation is a feature that could provide new or unique information pertaining to the Harbert Plantation, contributing to the site’s eligibility. It is recommended that if construction impacts will destroy this feature, it should be investigated further for archeological potential and so that it can be fully documented and to assess the potential of this feature as a SAL. Additionally, because the location of the main house has been potentially shielded by the construction of the barn, subsurface features related to the original house could exist. Therefore, it is recommended that if construction cannot avoid this barn, archeological scraping should occur in the area of the main house location/existing barn in case preserved subsurface features related to the main plantation house are discovered.
No artifacts were collected as part of this project. All notes and field records generated for this project will be curated at the Center for Archaeological Studies – Texas State University in San Marcos under Antiquities Permit 9033.
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