Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 16
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In about 1900, teacher Charlie Autrey and his pupils posed for an end-of-year photograph at Owl
Creek School, a one-room building in the Friendship community. Autrey taught all seven grades,
an instructional juggling act. Photograph courtesy of Roma Scott Bates. .
Coleman Golden and Frank Williams harvested hay
by hand along the House Creek bottom. This was the
oldest method of harvesting hay, and mule-powered
mowers or hand scythes would take its place. After the
hay dried, they forked it into a wagon like this one.
Photograph courtesy of Letha Sheldon.
decades had passed since the Army removed
these farms from the landscape, the U.S.
Army Fort Hood, through its Cultural Re-
sources Management Program, instigated a
project fusing archeological fieldwork, archi-
val research, and oral history to document
the local rural past. Federal regulations for
Army management of Fort Hood's historic
archeological resources were the initial im-
petus for the project. Prewitt and Associates,
Inc., a consulting firm specializing in cul-
tural resources, completed the work between
1996 and 2003. Archeologists surveying
modern-day Fort Hood lands found more
than 1,100 historic archeological sites that
include building foundations and associated
chimneys, water wells, cellars, rock walls,
remnant gardens, livestock ponds, trash
dumps, and fragments of myriad house-
hold items. Historians traced ownership,
reviewed tax and census records, and sought
other sources to corroborate evidence about
the identified farmsteads and communities.
The archival record, however, could never fully
convey the lives of the men, women, and chil-
dren who lived on the land.
Fortunately, many former occupants of
the land not only still live in the area, but
they also join together at family, school,
and community reunions to celebrate trea-
sured memories of their shared past. These
gracious people invited historians to attend
their reunions to seek out potential infor-
mants. Eventually, 28 men and 24 women,
ranging in age from 67 to 100, and repre-
senting 26 different small communities,
were interviewed about their memories. The
more than 82 hours of audiotape interviews
and 1,000 historic photographs chronicle
the once anonymous record of local farm
families and the communities they forged.
For these Central Texas rural inhabitants,
the onset of World War II was pivotal. At war
against Japan and Germany for little more
than a month, the United States desperately
sought a location for training troops to im-
mobilize German tank divisions in Europe.
While Congress passed the Second War Pow-
ers Act that sanctioned government taking
of private land for military training bases, lo-
HERITAGE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/16/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.