Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992 Page: 21
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transcended...overfired bricks. It was a story that recorded the
mirrored the development of Texas from the antebellum period
railroad and the development of commercial centers.
tioned was probably the one set up through
a deed of gift from her father, Hiram B.
English in 1867. The document records
that English, a resident of Washington
County, conveyed the following items to
One Steam Saw Mill - and Pratts Cotton
Gin - screw, Belting and all fixtures
belonging to the same now on the plantation
of William Guyler in Austin County
in said State (Texas and valued at one
A further mention of the mill operation is
provided in a deed of conveyance from
William and Lydia Guyler to N.P. Ward in
1882. In addition to land, the sale included
a "Baxter Engine, Mill Gin Press and Saw
together with all tools and other articles
necessary to running and operating the same."
The archival research failed to uncover either
an exact location or a plat of the mill site. A
survey of aerial maps, however, indicates
that probable sites would include the area
adjacent to the water source known as Aliens
Creek. Here at last is a general explanation
of the origin of the slag. An engine operation
that included gin, grist, and saw functions
probably needed some foundry work to build
and maintain the works. Many 19th century
steam engines, for example, required the
buyer to assemble the boiler or build its
reservoir. A metal-working foundry would
achieve temperatures adequate to vitrify
Following service in the Civil War, William
Guyler continued his antebellum status
as a prominent landowner, miller, and
planter. In 1879, he contributed 100 acres to
Galveston businessman George Sealy. The
tract was located along a proposed line of the
Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad that
would connect Galveston and Houston with
Fort Worth. Construction of the line was
completed to the area in 1880, and the new
town of Wallis, named for a railroad official,
was platted on the tract previously owned by
The early settler was among those who
first built their homes in the new town. The
site of the Guyler's original homestead and
Slag and vitrified brick samples taken from the Guyler Plantation in Austin County are shown above.
Archaeologists investigating the property for a pipeline construction company found that the mysterious
black, porous material found on a low earth mound seemed to be unlike any of the local gravels that the
Brazos River had been rolling downstream since the days of the Ice Age.
plantation remained in the family until
Stories like that of the mysterious
brick slag at the Guyler Plantation in
Austin County, while intriguing to the
investigator, are common throughout
Texas. In countless cultural resource
investigations across the state, many of
which are initiated by local people and
preservation/historical groups, similar
stories are unfolding. Lignite mines,
pipelines, new highways, high-rise
buildings, Main Street restorations -- all
of these projects have the potential for
unveiling previously unknown parts of
While some might consider these stories
pedantic, dry, intellectual exercise
of limited value, the opposite is true.
Collectively, they form the people's history,
and the people's history is ultimately
the basis for a more complete
picture of Texas' rich heritage.
David G. Robinson is a staff archaeologist at
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory,
Austin, and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department
of Anthropology, The University of
Texas at Austin.
Dan K. Utley is oral historian/editor with the
Baylor University Institute for Oral History.
The president of the Texas Oral History
Association, he serves as a member of the
State Review Board for the National Register
of Historic Places.
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1992 21
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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/m1/21/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.