Nacogdoches preservationists look underground to preserve home - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nacogdoches preservationists look underground to preserve home

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - State archeologists contend with ice and rain to make one last measurement at the Clay Family Home. "We're doing a little subsurface mapping," said Tiffany Osburn, regional archeologist for the Texas Historical State Commission. She was joined by Bradford Jones, another state archeologist. Both were asked to survey the ground around the home on Bois'd'arc Street.

It's their second day of collecting volumes of data. Back in the warmth of indoors they view what they couldn't see on a computer laptop. "The tree and the water pipe are here," points out Osburn. They're after more historic findings, such as artifacts. 

Ground penetrating radar discovers the hidden concerns."This thing actually rides along the ground surface, collecting data," demonstrates Osburn. She shows a red, square mechanism that can be pulled under a cart.

Then she turns to the laptop. Blues, greens, yellows paint the screen. "Once you start getting into the greens and the yellows that's when we start actually paying attention as things that might potentially be underground features."

The Clay home sets where Caddo Indians once had their villages. Just a stone's throw artifacts and pottery have been unearthed. And how did archeologists used to do this before radar? "Excavation, in levels, of course," assures Osburn.

The only immediate digging planned is in a vegetable garden for a living museum. A big achievement considering the city wanted to tear down the clay home so more grave sites could be sold in the adjacent historic Oak Grove Cemetery.

The Clay home sets right next door to the historic Zion Hill Baptist Church. African Americans argue the neglected frame house was once a parsonage. Historic value is still questioned. Nevertheless, the Nacogdoches African American Heritage Program embraces its protection.

"(We want to tell) the true story of the things that we did as we tried to become a part of the whole community," Marion Upshaw, project member shared. "It's (the project) definitely a part of community building and it's a part of creating connection," Osburn said.

Connection is vital when preserving the past for the future.


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