Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987 Page: 25
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thesis, and local, state and regional
accounts, will not only provide more
than one perspective, but also assist in
verification of facts. Census data is
typically a reliable source for preliminary
identification of Black presence,
but should not be the only one. In addition
to multiple sources, it becomes
necessary to use more than one data
type. Each offers only a small portion
of the total documentation, but taken
together, the data will provide a more
comprehensive understanding of the
resource. For instance, written sources
generally focus on the popular account
or formal history, while private collections
(journals, diaries, family papers,
etc.) emphasize local occurences and
domestic traditions. Oral sources can be
used to cross reference and confirm the
written material, as well as expand the
documentation. Public land records
accurately indicate ownership patterns
and tenure. Taken with census enumeration
maps and surveys, they identify
the location of families and cultural
resources over time. Photographs which
depict the life cycle of various aspects
of a physical resource provide the most
realistic account, and augment written
and cartographic data forms. We must
not forget that Black Texans are present
in all of these types of data, we simply
must be more alert and sensitive to their
This identification process will
yield a range of Black resources, including
individual properties, architecture,
urban districts, rural districts and landscapes.
There are few undisturbed
historic Black urban districts in the
State. Two or three small "shotgun"
dwellings are usually all that remain
as indicators of an earlier and larger
human settlement. To find a row of such
houses today in Houston, Dallas, Austin
or San Antonio is very rare. It is virtually
unheard of to find an extant block.
So these isolated survivors can be identified
as individual resources. It should
be noted that the arrangement of surrounding
space (landscape) and structures
should be included as a critical
part of the historic property because of
the way the inhabitants perceived and
used them historically. The practice of
adding exterior coverings (shingles, siding,
veneers) to urban structures was
quite common in Black neighborhoods.
For this reason, it becomes essential to
Vernacular headstone in the Rocksprings
Church Cemetery, Bosque County, Texas. The
Rocksprings settlement was inhabited by Blacks
residing in the Valley Mills area.
conduct close-up, and often below-thesurface,
inspection in areas with extended
habitation tenure. Commercial structures
should certainly be included in
the list of architectural types to identify.
More frequently they will be in the
form of adapted residences and/or
small scale multi-purpose facilities
(warehouse, workshop, livery, and so
Rural Black resources are numerous,
but even more difficult to identify.
Generally, they will be limited to the
area east of an imaginary line drawn
through Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
This, of course, due to the historical
trend for the majority of the Black population
to reside in this region. Physical
clues are more dispersed and obscured
in the evolving landscape. However, the
Black rural dwellers built the same
types of structures, outbuildings and
utility constructions that Anglos did as
they struggled toward an agrarian existence.
In many instances, the construction
techniques and material combinations
may have varied. This is one of the
reasons the finished products are considered
"folk" or "vernacular", and
certainly a reason to be maintained as a
significant historical resource. Tenure
of land occupancy is historically significant
for Anglos, Hispanics and Blacks.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 3, Autumn 1987, periodical, Autumn 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45439/m1/25/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.