Archeological dig provides clues to Texas history

December 11, 2009 3:11:23 PM PST
Archeologists are working at a unique site just outside of Hempstead. The Bernardo Plantation once served as a staging area for General Sam Houston. Just 50 miles north of Houston there is a place where history is being uncovered.

Jim Bruseth with the Texas Historical Commission explained, "This is the beginning of the plantation system in Texas."

A piece of Texas past being seen for the first time in 200 years, it's called Bernardo, a plantation established in 1822 by Jared Groce, one of "the old three hundred" settlers of Stephen F. Austin's colony. His property at the time was the largest plantation in Texas and would become the staging ground for General Sam Houston's troops before the battle of San Jacinto.

"In this house that we've been looking at, Jared Groce and his brother-in-law wrote the letter to Sam Houston, inviting him to Texas to come help fight for independence," Bruseth said.

While little of this important plantation remains today, these archeologists have unearthed what they believe was the original homestead ? a grand two-story log cabin, said to be home to on onsite physician and plenty of weary travelers.

Bruseth said, "This was a place where anybody of importance during the formation of our state came and they stayed."

That importance can be found on the property through artifacts, everything from historic foreign coins to artillery and even the tools the slaves would use to harvest cotton.

"They're quite heavy," said Robert Marcom with the Community Archaeology Research Institute. "They're probably made here on the plantation."

That is just what's been uncovered to far by this team made up mostly of volunteers eager to capture a piece of the past.

"Through digging in the ground and finding these objects, we can really start telling that untold story and adding to our state's history," said Bruseth. "This is the history of all of us as Texans."

The Texas Historical Commission and the Community Archaeology Research Institute are the main groups working on this dig. Eventually they want to display these findings in a museum for everyone to see.


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