Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992 Page: 20
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In the process of analyzing the records, a story emerged that
lifeways of a pioneer family. On a deeper level, however, it
when King Cotton reigned to the coming of the
zones of lighter material marking the original
boundaries of masses that might be
calcium oxide, another high temperature
byproduct of calcination.
This evidence indicates that high temperatures
sufficient to vitrify bricks generated
the slag material. The lack of structures,
old foundations, and industrial debris
at the site, where such high firing may
have taken place, suggested (but did not
prove) that the mound was a dumping
place where the slag was transported after
being removed from its place of production.
Contrary to what was expected, this
analysis, although astute, raised more questions
than it answered. For example, what
industrial process produced the slag? Who
was responsible for the operation, and what
was the intended product? And the question
that baffles all archaeologists and historians,
when did the slag-making take
Given these perplexing issues, a twofold
plan of investigation seemed necessary.
First, more archaeological fieldwork
appeared to offer the best follow-up to the
geological analysis. Accordingly, the crew
returned to the site and dug a series of
shovel probes. These allowed a look below
the surface of the suspicious mound and
nearby areas. It was important to excavate
probes both on and off the mound to give a
comparison of soil zones with slag and
without slag. Thirteen separate probes provided
the necessary information.
Two on-mound probes contrasted
strongly with those off the mound. Under
the upper soil layer, farmed and plowed in
modern times, was a layer jumbled with
slag and brick fragments. At the bottom of
this layer was more of the same, with ash
and charcoal bits. The bottom-most zone
was the reddish-brown natural subsoil. The
bright color led the field crew to speculate
that the soil had been heated intensely.
The off-mound probes lack dense zones of
artifacts. In fact, the off-mound testing
yield fewer artifacts than the ground surface.
These probes also had the reddish
subsoil. Furthermore, a check of county soil
survey maps revealed that the reddish subsoil
was natural, the common subsoil all
along the Brazos floodplain.
The concentration of slag in the mound
relative to the area surrounding the mound
and the absence of burned soil zones finally
proved that the slag had been brought here
and dumped, forming the mound. The
material was probably produced some distance
from the site. And this is where the
constraints of contact archaeology were
most evident; confined to the pipeline rightof-way,
the field crew was prevented from
exploring further for the point of the slag's
production. Therefore, this was as far was
archaeological inquiry could be taken.
T he second avenue of the investigation
was taking place simultaneously with
the fieldwork, but in a different setting and
with a completely different frame of reference.
In Wallis, Austin, Bellville, and
Brenham, TARL historian Dan K. Utley
was reviewing written records for clues
concerning the mysterious mound. The
tools at his disposal included a variety of
state, national, and local archives. Among
them were: deed records, the legal history
of land ownership, affidavits, census records,
local history collections, newspapers, cemetery
surveys, and oral history. From these,
he developed an investigative plan that
best utilized the available resources. Using
the land ownership record as his primary
document, he added biographical information
that brought life to the artifacts.
The best source proved to be a newspaper
collection of articles on the Guyler
family, owners of the property from before
the Civil War to World War II. But while
the Guylers were the owners of significance
in terms of time, it was still necessary to
trace the history of the land from sovereignty
of the soil to the present day. In the
process of analyzing the countless records, a
story emerged that transcended the tale of
a few overfired bricks. It was a story that, on
the surface, recorded the lifeways of a pioneer
family. On a deeper level, however, it
mirrored the development of modem Texas
from the antebellum period when King
Cotton reigned to the coming of the railroad
and the development of commercial
The Guyler Plantation site is located
on land granted in 1824 to David H.
Milburn and Thomas Davis, original settlers
in Stephen F. Austin's Old Three
Hundred colony. They divested themselves
of the property within a few years, and
throughout the Republic of Texas era the
land was owned by speculators. It was not
until the antebellum period that the
property was first settled and broken for
The new owners were William Henry
Guyler (1823-1897) and his wife, Lydia
Ann English Guyler (1826-1920), natives
of Kentucky. Married there in 1845, they
moved to Texas in 1859. Traveling by
riverboat, Gulf passenger ship, and railroad,
the Guylers migrated to the town of
Richmond, in Fort Bend County. There,
they sold approximately 100 barrels of flour
to local merchants to finance the purchase
of their new homestead in Austin County.
Their first home on the Milburn and Davis
grant was a log cabin, where they resided
through the Civil War years. The cabin
was located within the dispersed agricultural
community of Hartsville, north of presentday
At the age of 91, Lydia English Guyler
recalled her experiences as a pioneer settler
of Austin County:
Reaching our destination we had a camp
until my husband could build a small log
cabin in which we lived six years. Our
nearest neighbor lived three miles from
us. Mr. Guyler soon built a grist mill
and cotton gin, and they were the only
two plants of the kind within miles of us.
He also had to saw all the lumber for
building his own houses. (From Ray
Dungen newspaper article, vertical
files, Wallis Library, Wallis)
The mill operation Lydia Guyler men
20 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992, periodical, Summer 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45419/m1/20/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.