Soon after Texas became a republic in 1836, the government divided land in this area for settlement. Ample timber, fresh water sources and wildlife attracted many to establish communities along Brushy Creek. The Legislature organized these settlements in the creation of Williamson County, carved from Milam County in 1848. During the 1850s, most pioneer area families operated small farms or businesses, and cattle ranching began to grow in the area. In the 1870s and 1880s, following economic hardships of the Civil War, Texas cattle ranchers began to drive stock through this area to markets outside the state. Residents also turned to cotton production, the raising of sheep and goats, and the harvesting of ashe juniper, known locally as cedar. With four rail lines built through the county by the 1890s, residents utilized the railroad for shipping products, including cedar ties for rail line construction. The wood was also used for fence posts, roofing shingles, foundation piers and telephone poles, as well as the manufacture of cedar charcoal, which had a variety of commercial applications. The term cedar chopper applied to harvesters and their families, who moved from camp to camp for their work. Cedar chopping was a significant factor in the development of the county and its economy well into the twentieth century. It supported charcoal kilns, timber yards and camps, such as one located at this site, leased from 1905 to 1908 by A.F. Martin & Brother. Site investigations here indicated archeological remains of a temporary camp and dugout structure. Today, the impact of cedar choppers and their work is apparent in the successful communities throughout the area, which developed in part because of their industry. (2005)
Cedar Chopping Central Texas in Williamson County
Architectural documentation, an archaeological reconnaissance, and archival research were conducted by SWCA, Inc. Environmental Consultants (SWCA) on historic site 41WM892, the Cedar Choppers Site, and the related Central Texas cedar industry. Site 41 WM892 was first recorded in 1996 by archaeologists from Prewitt and Associates (Prewitt). Prewitt conducted a pedestrian survey of the 725-acre Leander Rehabilitation Center for the GLO in preparation for the sale of the entire property (Williams et al. 1996). During the survey, one previously recorded archaeological site was revisited (41WM452), and four newly recorded historic sites were evaluated for National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility (41WM892, 41WM893, 41WM896, 41 WM897). In addition, 45 standing structures associated with the State Dairy and Hog Farm were documented and examined for NRHP potential. Though 21 of these 45 structures were determined to be eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, none of the archaeological sites were deemed significant or noteworthy for NRHP status or nomination as a State Archeological Landmark (SAL).
Though none of the archaeological sites were determined to be significant by Prewitt, archaeologists at the GLO recognized that the architectural remains of one site (41WM892) could yield contextual information on significant historic activity in Central Texas—cedar chopping. The GLO, therefore, compiled a list of mitigation criteria to be completed at the site, should the site ever be threatened with development (see Table 1). The THC concurred with this list of seven mitigation steps in November 1996, and the addendum was attached to the land deed.
In May 2002, SWCA was contacted by Fleur Land Ltd.
The successful bidder on the Leander Rehabilitation Center property, to conduct the cultural resource analysis and contextual documentation of the site prior to development. The development will include the destruction of the majority of the site during the construction of a retention pond and associated landscape features.
SWCA met with representatives from the THC in June 2002 to discuss the general parameters of the project and the mitigation plan recommended by the GLO. During the June 2002 meeting, it was decided that items 2 through 5 (site plan, photo-documentation, activity-specific contexts, and a historical marker) of the original Mitigation Plan should be completed during this cultural resource analysis. Since the site was deemed ineligible for NRHP nomination or SAL status during the THC's initial review of the site in 1996, it was decided that items 1, 6, and 7 of the original Mitigation Plan (preservation of the architectural features, production of a popular brochure, and extensive budget) were not required for THC concurrence. In addition, the site was thoroughly researched during the 1996 fieldwork, and a complete site-specific context was developed at that time, so it was decided that no further archival work was necessary on the site itself (see Williams et al. 1996:49-52 for the complete archival history of the property).
Site 41WM892 is located in the northeastern portion of the Leander Rehabilitation Center property (Figure I). The Rehabilitation Center is northeast of the intersection of Highway 183 and Route 620, just northeast of the town of Jollyville and southeast of Cedar Park, Texas. The Southern Pacific Railroad tracks are the eastern boundary of the property.
The site itself is located just west of a large power line adjacent to the western edge of the Southern Pacific tracks. Based on an inspection of the USG S 7 5-minute topographic quadrangle for Jollyville, Texas, this power line was installed within the past 15 years. The site itself is bounded on the east by the power line and on the north, west, and south by undeveloped, timbered land. Recently, a rough road cut was created along the western margin of site 41WM892, which now provides a visible western terminus to the site. A tributary to South Brushy Creek runs east-west through the southern one-quarter of the project area.
Currently, site 41 WM892 contains a very high density of Ashe juniper (cedar). The cedar canopy has resulted in a thick accumulation of organic duff over the entire site, providing very poor ground surface visibility. Topographically, the site is 890-900 feet above mean sea level.
Late Native American Occupation
The historic period in Williamson County, as with most of Central Texas, begins with the first European incursions into the area in the early sixteenth century. According to archaeological remains and documentary evidence, the area was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans. While a small number of Yojuane, Tawakoni, Kiowa, and Mayeye Indians were known to have inhabited the county at the time of European contact, the largest Native American settlements in the area were the Lipan Apaches in the western portion of the county and the Tonkawas in the east (Odintz 1996).
In the early eighteenth century, Comanche tribes moved into western Williamson County, raiding Lipan Apache camps and driving them out of the area. As European contact in the area became more prevalent, the disease quickly decimated these tribes, and warfare between them, as well as with the Cherokees to the west, also dealt a blow to the dwindling population. By the mid-nineteenth century, the first permanent European settlers in the area noted the tribes as being friendly but few in number. As European settlement grew, both the Lipan Apache and the Tonkawas were pushed from the county. Comanche tribes continued to raid Anglo-settlements in the area until the 1860s but were finally forced out of the area by a growing postbellum population (Scarbrough 1973).
Spanish Incursions into Central Texas Although Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and the survivors of the Narvaez expedition reportedly ventured into what is now Central Texas in 1528, the first 200 years of European exploration in this area were mostly limited in scope to individual forays into the Texas interior rather than organized settlement. The area was thoroughly explored first in the early eighteenth century by Captain Alonso De Leon. He traveled through the area, searching for a northward route between the San Antonio Missions and the missions in what is now eastern Texas because the southerly route, the Camino Real, frequently flooded (Odintz 1996).
This new route, the Camino de Arriba, passed over Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River in Williamson County. The new road brought many groups of travelers through this area, resulting in the founding of two missions to the east of Williamson County in what is today Milam County. These missions, named the San Xavier missions, were in operation from the middle of the eighteenth century into the early nineteenth century, when continued raids from the Lipan Apache and the newly arrived Comanche forced their abandonment (Odintz 1996).
European Settlement under Mexican Rule Anglo settlement in the area began during the Mexican proprietorship of Texas. After Mexico gained independence from Spain, the newly formed country used a policy of land grants to attract Anglos from the United States to help inhabit the sparsely populated northern regions. During the 1820s, Stephen F. Austin obtained grants from the Mexican government to settle hundreds of families along the lower Brazos and Colorado rivers. This colony, known as the "Old Three Hundred Colony," was successful in pushing the European settlement frontier farther west into the central Texas region, and several other groups began to petition for multi-family land grants.
In 1822, the Texas Association, a group of 71 farmers and craftsmen from Nashville, Tennessee, petitioned the Mexican government for a land grant to settle the central portion of the territory of Texas. Unrest in the area and slow-moving transfers caused a delay in the processing of the petition, which was finally granted on April 18, 1825 (McLean 1996). This land grant was held with the stipulation that the colony would bring in 800 families who would pledge their allegiance to Mexico and convert to Catholicism. During the three years, the prospective settlers waited for a land grant; however, the Texas Association ran out of money. The land grant was then abandoned for two years. In 1827, Stephen F. Austin took up the land grant and paid the debts incurred on it to the Mexican government. He mistakenly referred to the area as previously belonging to the Nashville Company rather than the Texas Association, and this moniker remained with the colony for several years.
The settlement of the area, however, was again halted by political unrest. The area of Williamson County was officially speculated and surveyed between 183I and 1834, but no settlers were allowed to claim this land by Mexican law (Texas General Land Office [GLO] 2000). Austin and Sterling Clark Robertson, one of the original stockholders of the Texas Association, petitioned this act. After much controversy with the Mexican government, Robertson succeeded in convincing the Texas legislature to let him settle 800 families in what was originally the Texas Association land grant. In honor of his act and his investment capital, the area became known as Robertson's Colony in 1834 (McLean 1996). Though the colony was organized and surveyed by 1835, the Texas Revolution halted all settlement of the area until 1836.
Prior to the Texas Revolution, most of the European settlement was focused south of Bastrop and the old La Bahia Road in Austin's colony. During the Texan war with Mexico, the area of Robertson's Colony continued to be inhabited only by aboriginal Native Americans (McLean 1996). After the war, a growing Texan population led several settlers to move to Robertson's Colony in search of open, profitable land to plant crops and raise cattle (Odintz 1996). This wave of migration spurned new conflicts with the native groups living in the area, cumulating in the Battle of Brushy Creek, near what is today the town of Taylor, in February 1839. This battle, between the Comanche and the Texas Rangers, resulted in numerous deaths and eventually resulted in the removal of the Native American presence in the area (Smithwick 1983).
Once relative peace had been achieved in the area, settlement rapidly progressed. Lots were doled out according to the headright system. Headrights were issued from the Republic of Texas-based on Texas occupancy. Those settlers who had arrived in Texas before March 2, 1836, received a First Class Headright and were thus eligible for a league (4,428.4 acres) of land. Those arriving after this date were given portions of leagues divided into labours (177.1 acres) (TLGO 2000).
The area along Brushy Creek was among the first settled in this new territory. Settlers were drawn to its dense population of buffalo, deer, and small game, such as wild turkeys, and for its plethora of natural springs and passable waterways. The ample timber supply also advocated more permanent construction, as log cabins and dog-trot dwellings were constructed along Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River (Makemson 1904:13).
While settlement progressed along Brushy Creek, the nearby town of Waterloo, south of Brushy Creek on the banks of the Colorado River, was renamed Austin and designated the seat of government for the Republic of Texas in 1839. Following this influence, the Brushy Creek area broke from western Milam County in 1848 and was organized shortly afterward as Williamson County. The county was named in honor of Robert M. Williamson, an area leader and a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto (Scarbrough 1973).
The 1850s were a period of great change in Williamson County. A search of the 1850 census reveals the population to be quite varied in wealth, land holdings, and occupational interests. These differences caused many changes in the governmental, economic, and social conditions in Williamson County in the 1850s, which are reflected in the 1860 census. For example, in 1848, only 250 people lived in Williamson County, and most of these families lived on subsistence farming and small, family-owned businesses (Makemson 1904:17). The 1850 slave census lists an enslaved population of 127 (Campbell 1989:266). By the eve of the Civil War, the white population reached 3,638, and 1,074 slaves were owned by Williamson County residents (Campbell 1989:266; Odintz 1996:993). Cattle ranching also grew rapidly during this decade. The number of cattle more than tripled from 11,973 in 1850 to 38,114 in 1860 (Odintz 1996).
After the Civil War, Williamson County fell into the economic depression that seized the majority of the country. The total value of farmsteads and domestic lands, valued at over $833,000 in 1860, had dropped by over half in 1870, with a value of less than $390,000 (Odintz 1996). A drop in the price of cattle, the county's main economic source, accompanied the devaluation of land, and cattle values were almost one-third lower in 1870 than they had been only a decade before. The change in the price of cattle forced Texas cattlemen to drive their herds farther north for better prices. Thus, the ranches along Brushy Creek and its tributaries became a major stop en route to the Chisholm Trail and other trails into Oklahoma:' (Scarbrough 1973:198).
The economic change towards cattle also forced the South Brushy Creek area to diversify its crop production to include cotton and other agribusinesses, such as cedar chopping and raising sheep and goats. The 1880s saw a significant rise in the amount of cotton produced in the region as well as a rise in the number of tenant farmers producing it. This increase in tenant farming also brought wider ethnic diversity to the area, as Germans, Czechs, and other Europeans flooded the area in search of land (Odintz 1996).
These new developments not only brought economic prosperity to the area, but they opened the door for an even more important change—the railroad. During the 1870s and 1890s, four railroad lines were constructed through Williamson County. The Austin and Northwestern Railroad Company built a narrow-gauge line through southern Williamson County in 1881-1882 (Scarbrough 1973:318). This line connected Austin, Cedar Park, and Burnet County.
During the construction of the new state capitol. in Austin, this line was used to transport red granite blocks from Granite Mountain in Burnet County to the construction site in Austin. Witnesses to this transportation described the journey as perilous, as the flat cars hauling the large granite blocks were often overloaded, causing many derailments and the loss of a large amount of stone along the way (Mercado-Allinger et al. 1984:11). Large piles of rough-hewn granite can still be seen under some of the railroad trestles crossing Brushy Creek. Due to the extended use of this line during the construction of the Capitol building, the line was extended to a standard gauge in 1891. Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the line in the mid-twentieth century and still uses it today (Scarbrough 1973:324).
Intellectual achievement accompanied economic success and improved accessibility during this period as well. Texas University, later named Southwestern University, was founded in Georgetown in 1873. This was the first successful Methodist college in Texas, and it brought several new facets to the county population (Odintz 1996).
The years between 1890 and 1930 saw many of the residents of Williamson County prosper from cattle ranching and railroad-related activities, but the majority of the population remained small, family-operated subsistence farmers and cattle ranchers. These smaller operations often had a bard time making ends meet, and loans and Hens were often taken out on their properties to continue. Agribusiness continued to be the dominant industry in Williamson County through the first three-quarters of the twentieth century. Over the past 20 years, however, technology has become the primary business in the county.
Archival research into the history of the site and surrounding area found that this parcel was one of the first land grants given out in what is now Williamson County. The original land grant was patented by Rachael Saul. Saul and her family arrived in Texas in 1827, and her husband died shortly after arrival. Since Texas had relatively liberal land policies for women in the first half of the nineteenth century, Saul, as the head of a family of several children and one of the original colonizers of Texas, was granted her headright in 1838. In order to receive the patent, Joseph M. Glasscock, a prominent citizen of the area, spoke on her behalf in court to prove she was entitled to this land (GLO 1847).
The patent for six arable labours and 19 pastoral labours at the headwater of Brushy Creek was given to Saul on September 16, 1847 (GLO 1847). Saul, however, only held on to this property for three years.
On July 5, 1850, Saul deeded the entire property to G. W. Glasscock of Williamson County (WCCC _1850). George Washington Glasscock was one of the wealthiest men in the area. Glasscock came to Texas from Illinois in the mid-1830s. Before that time, he was a partner with Abraham Lincoln in a flatboating company on the Sangamon River. Upon his arrival in Texas, Glasscock originally settled himself and his family in Zavala. In 1846, they moved to the Williamson County area, where Glasscock quickly set up several business ventures (Hyman 1996). Upon the organization of Williamson County, Glasscock donated 172 acres for the county seat provided that they name it for him, and Georgetown was formed from this donation. Glasscock was later elected to the Texas legislature and was influential in settlement of West Texas (Griffith 1900:9). The county of Glasscock was named in his honor.
Based on the 1850 census, it is believed that Glasscock rented out the land to tenants, as he made his permanent home in Georgetown. While Glasscock held on to large portions of this land for many years, the lot on which site 41WM892 is located was sold soon after procurement. In 1854, Glasscock sold 1,107 acres of the Saul League to Morgan C. Hamilton of Travis County. Hamilton subdivided this property into 14 lots and, over the next 30 years, sold off each lot to new settlers to the region (Williams et al. 1996:49).
Site 41 WM892 is on lots Il and 12 of the Hamilton property. These two lots were first sold to N. B. Mays in 1881 and then were purchased by Dr. C. A. Graves in 1885. According to archival research conducted by Prewitt and Associates, Graves already owned lots 5, 9, 10, 13, and 14, and he did not hold the newly acquired lots for long. He sold portions of lots 5, 11, and 12 to Isabella Green of Travis County, but a legal dispute between Green, W. E. Armstrong and John Tyler resulted in a public auction of the property. Armstrong and Tyler finally became the legal owners of the property in 1904 (Williams et al. 1996:49).
The next year, Armstrong sold his portion to Tyler, and Tyler signed a leasing contract with A. F. Martin & Brother, prominent businessmen from Austin. This deed allowed the firm to cut down any cedar trees larger than 3 inches in diameter off of the Tyler property over a three-year period. The Martins would also receive free water and camping privileges for the wood haulers and choppers, as well as free pasturing for up to eight horses and/or mules. In return, the Martins would pay Tyler $500.00 for the first one thousand cord of wood and 50 cents per cord thereafter (Williams et al. 1996:51).
The timber deed was not renewed after the three-year period, and it is assumed that the property that contains what is now site 4IWM892, one of the cedar chopping camps and storage areas, had been completely denuded of cedar. Tyler sold the property in 1912, and it has remained primarily agricultural and pasture land throughout the twentieth century. The site remained abandoned and unknown until it was recorded by archaeologists from Prewitt and Associates in 1996 during the aforementioned Leander Rehabilitation Center survey.
The cultural resource investigations were completed on September 10 and 11, 2002. The project was conducted by Keni S. Barile, Principal Investigator, assisted by Thanet Skoglund and Kirk D. French. As listed above, the fieldwork portion of this project comprised site mapping, architectural and landscape photography, limited subsurface analysis of the dugout feature, and brief analysis of the material remain on the property, including the architectural features and general site plan.
During the 1996 fieldwork, the site was divided into three areas based on the above-ground architectural remains (Areas 1.-3). Each area included a series of conjoined stone walls, stone piles, and nearby artifact scatters. For the 2002 fieldwork, SWCA retained the area designations assigned by Prewitt and Associates for site consistency. One additional cultural feature was noted on the surface; however, that was not included in the earlier analysis. This feature was labeled Area 4, and it will be discussed with the remainder of the cultural features below.
Mapping of site 41WM892 included the creation of both an overall site plan (Figure 2) and individual area plans (Figures 3-6). The mapping process was slightly hindered because the rock walls were in very poor condition, and a thick bed of organic duff covered the majority of the low-lying remains. Despite these hindrances, complete maps of all above-ground cultural features were completed for each area. The mapping revealed that very few of the stone wall features contained right angles or specific measurements, and they're likely was not an overall site plan in mind prior to occupation.
During the mapping, Area 4 was discovered and recorded as a cultural feature. It is located in the center of the site, just north of Area 2 (see Figure 2). Area 4 comprises one small rock pile and a few historic artifacts diffusely scattered on the surface (Figure 6). Unlike Areas 1 through 3, however, Area 4 contains no rock walls. An interpretation of Area 4, along with Areas 1-3, will be provided in the analysis section below.
As required by the site mitigation plan, the entire site was photographed using both black & white and color film. Though the initial plan required "a consideration of the aesthetic qualities of the architecture and site setting in addition to the standard archeological and architectural documentation," the photography was also hindered by excessive vegetation. Nevertheless, a complete set of photographs was taken, including features at all four areas, as well as general location images, photographs of the railroad, and pictures of recent site disturbances, such as the power line running adjacent to the eastern edge of the property and the newly-cut roadway along the western boundary of the site (Figure 7). These photographs will be curated at TARL once the project has been completed.
Based on the mapping, photography, and on-site analysis, details on the construction methods and possible uses of the architectural features can be determined. The primary cultural components recorded on the site were rock walls and rock piles. Very few artifacts were found on the site, which is why this analysis is mostly limited to the above-ground remains.
All of the rock walls on the site are dry-laid, and very few of them are purposefully cleaved (Figures 8 and 9). Based on the scatter of limestone fragments surrounding each wall, it is believed that the limestone portions of the walls were only one to three courses high. The average width of the walls is 3-ft wide, though the range is 2 to 5-ft across. No fasteners or notches were found within the limestone, and no other architectural materials were noted during this survey. It is, therefore, believed that these walls were not foundations but merely boundary walls or low enclosures. The longer portions of the rock wall, such as those in Area 1 and perhaps Area 3, contain obvious breaks in the stone wall construction. Whereas several sections of the wall have fallen down or eroded over the past 100 years (Figure 10), these sections were clearly designed as purposeful breaks in the wall line (see Figures 3 and 5). They likely provided multiple access routes to the interior of the large enclosures.
The one area with a slightly different configuration is the small enclosure in the southwest corner of Area 3 (see Figure 5). Whereas the rest of the rock walls form large boundaries or enclosures, this rectangular-shaped configuration is very small, measuring less than 10-ft by 5-ft. In addition, the clearing of the vegetation in the interior of this feature revealed a cleaved limestone floor (Figure 11). The wall construction methods are similar to the remainder of the rock walls, though, and no fasteners or additional architectural materials were found during the survey. This suggests that this was not the foundation of a covered structure, but rather a small and open, but more secure, enclosure. The stone floor was likely used to support heavier equipment or to keep special equipment and supplies, such as saws or animal feed, off of the damp ground surface.
The rock piles are non-linear mounds of uncut limestone fragments (Figures 12-14). They appear to have been piled together for future use in-wall/enclosure construction, rather than as functioning features on their own. No mortar, cement, or other fastening components were found within or adjacent to these features. Area 2 has the largest number of piles (n=5), and Area 4 contains one rock pile. Based on the ratio of rock walls to rock piles, it can be assumed that Areas I and 3 do not have any rock piles because all rocks were used in the construction of the existing stone walls. Area 2 has only one small portion of a rock wall, and the large quantity of limestone that had been gathered and placed in the five-rock piles there was likely to be used for constructing additional rock walls if needed. There are no rock walls at Area 4, which also had a rock pile, likely indicating that construction in that area had not been completed, as well.
Other features mapped in the four areas include a 'dugout' at Area 1 (which will be discussed in the next section) and a circular depression at Area 3. The circular depression measures 10-ft in diameter and is approximately 3-ft deep (Figure 15). Several very large tree fragments are on the ground around this feature, and the feature itself is perfectly round with very shallowly sloped sides. It is likely that this depression is a natural tree fall rather than culturally constructed, so no additional work was conducted in this area.
Very few artifacts were found throughout the site. Those that were noted on the surface were diffusely scattered and in very fragmented condition. Only Areas 2 and 3 had enough artifacts to define artifact concentrations (see Figures 4 and 5). In total, only 50 to 60 artifacts were noted on the entire site. Approximately one-third of the artifacts recorded at the site were ceramics (whiteware and ironstone, none with maker's marks), and one-third of them were glass (aqua, clear, amber, and milk glass, all body fragments). The remainder of the artifacts is metal, almost all of which were found in Area 3. As noted in the 1996 report, this area contains a large number of early twentieth-century automobile parts, including fenders, portions of the passenger door, and several oil cans (Figure 16). The other notable artifact found at the site was a portion of a black rubber shoe sole with brass square heel tacks (Figure 17). Though this type of artifact was manufactured throughout the first half of the twentieth century and is, therefore, not specifically diagnostic or unique to the site, it does reflect on those who worked and camped at site 41WM892.
In general, the overall plan of site 41WM892 clearly reflects the history of the property and those who worked there. The archival research showed that the site was leased for three years (1905-1908) by A. F. Martin & Brother and used as a cedar choppers camp and worksite. The limited number of artifacts concur that the area was not a long-term, primary habitation site, though the limited ceramics and glass do represent the short time span of a historic campsite. In addition, the rock features built throughout the area were constructed as expedient enclosures rather than as stable foundations or substantial property divisions. The limestone walls were simply piled in one-to-three-course patterns, and they were not mortared or cleaved for a tighter, stable fit.
Based on the overall site map (see Figure 2), it is apparent that the cedar choppers began their work (at least, the construction of the above-ground features) in the northern portion of the site and slowly worked their way to the south. This hypothesis is based on the completion of the stone walls and the number and size of the unused stone piles in each area. There are no stockpiles of unused stone at Areas 1 and 3 to the north, which had extensive wall systems, but there are numerous piles of rocks at Areas 2 and 4 (Figure 3-6). The very large quantity of limestone brought to Area 2, for example, obviously was intended for better use than just large piles of rock. The labor involved in gathering the fragments of stone and transporting them to this site would have been great, and the effort would not have been wasted unless the stones had a future purpose.
Small equipment and/or animal feed were likely kept in the small, rectangular feature in Area 3 (Figure 5). This feature has a limestone floor and a clear 'entryway' in the eastern elevation. The large, rectangular enclosure at Area I could have been used as an open animal corral (Figure 3). Feature 15 only has two purposeful breaks in the wall alignment, one of which was directly adjacent to the dugout, securing the animals inside the area. The larger rectangular wall shape at Area 3 (the eastern half of the site) could have had a similar purpose. No additional information can be gleaned from this configuration; however, as the entire northwestern corner of the rock wall sequence was either destroyed or never completed.
Though additional investigations at the dugout feature were not included in the original 1996 mitigation plan, this activity was added during recent discussions with the THC. Oral history gathered during the 1996 survey indicated that this 18-ft by 16-ft feature was "a dugout dwelling once occupied by an 'old Black man' (Williams et al. 1996:45). No subsurface investigations were conducted at that time.
During the 2002 survey, archaeologists probed the interior of the feature and attempted to determine the appearance of this potential structure and how it was constructed. No formal excavation units were placed within the feature due to intense root systems and the plethora of duff and recent debris that had accumulated in the depression. The subsurface probing indicated that the subsurface portion is 18-in deep, and it is currently surrounded by a 20-in tall pile of uncut limestone. Based on a few cleave marks found on the interior of the subsurface limestone wall, the pit was purposefully excavated. The structure had a packed dirt floor, as evidenced by the very hard, a sheened layer of earth found beneath the leaf litter. • • Interestingly, a thin layer of ungalvanized pressed tin was found just above the packed earth floor throughout the dugout. This likely indicates a shed or gabled roof covered with pressed tin. No other artifacts were found within or adjacent to the dugout.
The architectural analysis of the dugout suggests that this area was excavated and constructed by the cedar choppers to use as a covered sleeping area or as a covered area to store equipment, as it is the only feature at the site that exhibits any evidence of a roof. Once the cedar chopping activities ceased, the property was left vacant for several years. The structure was left empty, and it is at this time that it was likely inhabited by the "Old Black Man" mentioned in the 1996 oral histories.
As Central Texas folklorist Charles Wimberley said (1988:66): "Strands of old barbed wire have found their place in historical halls of fame, but nothing has been told of the cedar post which held these wires in place from Old Mexico to the Canadian border." This context will attempt to shed some light on this often-ignored part of Central Texas history.
The tree is known throughout Central Texas as 'cedar' goes by many names (see Table 2), but they all refer to the same species—Juniperus ashei, or Ashe Juniper. Over 60 species of juniper, a member of the cypress family, grow in the Northern Hemisphere, and of this number, eight are found in Texas (Wimberley 1988:20). Ashe Juniper is the variety found throughout Central Texas.
The Ashe Juniper was named for William W. Ashe, a botanist from North Carolina (Cox and Leslie 1988:31). It is a shrub or tree that can grow up to 30 ft tall and is most often found growing in the rocky limestone hills and canyons of Central Texas (e.g., Cox and Leslie 1988:30; Lynch 1981:2). The tree was described by naturalist A. C. Greene (1969:314) as "twisted and rather ugly, it never stands straight and seldom stands very high." The bark that covers the twisted, fluted trunk of the Ashe juniper is gray to reddish-brown. The fruit produced on the twig-like branches are bluish in color and thick-skinned, thus giving the tree the nickname "blueberry juniper" (Cox and Leslie 1988:30-32; Tull and Miller 1991:182; Vines 1960).
The blue fruit arrows on the trees from March through May and provides food for a number of birds and mammals. Of note, the cedar is known habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered bird species that winters in Central America and then "migrate to Texas to nest among older stands of the Ashe juniper. It utilizes the strips of bark from the mature trees in its nest building." (Cox and Leslie 1988:32)
Ashe juniper trees do not have a tap root but rather an extensive system of smaller, underground rootlets. Once the trunk of this tree has been cut or burned, re-growth from that base is impossible. Instead, Cedar spreads by the germination of seeds dropped from the canopy to the soil below. This is why "tree spatial arrangement has a significant effect on reinvasion rates" (Owens and Schliesing 2002:1). It has been proven that if almost all of the trees on a site are cut, re-growth is much less likely than if at least eight to twelve trees are left per acre (Owens and Schliesing 2002:1). In some parts of Australia, for example, extensive cedar chopping in the nineteenth century has completely eradicated the species, and there has been no new growth for over 100 years (Grainger 1972:16).
Many people have extrapolated on the question of Ashe juniper's arrival in Texas. Most people believe that Ashe juniper is not a native Texan plant type. Origin myths collected by historian Elizabeth Seiler (2002:10) in her research on cedar include the ideas that the tree is from Mexico (the seeds got stuck on the hair of cattle brought up from Mexico by the Spanish and slowly dropped off in Central Texas), from the Ozarks (the seeds and twigs got caught up in the wheels of the settler's wagons on their way to Texas from Arkansas), from Europe (settlers accidentally brought cedar seeds with them on their clothes and in their bags), from Peru (travelers from the Andes Mountains inadvertently brought the seeds with them), or from the government (Central Texas was seeded with cedars from helicopters sent by the government).
"The modern myth of an open, practically treeless Hill County where cedar as unnatural invaders developed in the first half of the twentieth century, when cedars began reclaiming what was always theirs" (Eckhardt 2002:1). According to Robert Vines (1960:xi), "a native tree is one that grows without cultivation. A naturalized tree is one that is introduced from other regions, but one that escapes cultivation and grows freely." Ashe Juniper pollen has been found in geologic deposits throughout Central Texas. In 18 northwest Bexar County, for example, cedar pollen was found in Friesenhahn Cave, in deposits dating to over 10,000 years ago (Seiler 2002:11). Cedar is, therefore, native to Texas.
Cedar (as it will be referred to through the remainder of this report) has been used by those living in Central Texas for millennia. Native Americans used the wood for fuel and, to a lesser extent, as cedar support posts and bark tarping for shelters. Several Spanish, French, and Anglo explorers who came through the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries repeatedly commented on the wild, natural trees that pervade the majority of the area (Seiler 2002). These early settlers quickly learned that cedar was a very strong, durable wood and used it for their homes and fences. It wasn't until the middle of the nineteenth century, however, that people began cutting cedar for profit.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, lumbering was the largest manufacturing enterprise in Texas, with the highest number of employees and the highest revenue commodity (Maxwell and Baker 1983:xiii). Though the majority of lumber cut and sold in the state was pine, cedar supported the industry in Central Texas. When the railroad came through the area in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, lumberers saw the opportunity for an entirely new market for their cedar. For the first time, Austin and surrounding counties could export goods and materials with "case and efficiency" (Scarbrough 1973:302). Not only could cedar posts and shingles be shipped throughout the state, but the construction of new rail lines necessitated hundreds of thousands of cedar rail ties. The Austin Daily Democratic Statesmen reported in 1874 that "a gentleman connected with the Central Railroad says that 200,000 cedar ties have been shipped from this city in the last two years..." (as quoted in Seiler 2002:19).
From the 1860s through the 1940s, cedar was used in a number of ways. Besides cedar fence posts, shingles, and railroad ties, cedar was also used for foundation piers, telegraph (and later telephone) poles, and as a fragrance for detergents and soaps (Seiler 2002:17). In Austin, very large cedar poles were used extensively throughout the city for telephone poles. "For a week past, men have been busy in the streets of Austin, putting up the thirty-five-foot long poles for the telephone exchange. It is considerable of a job to raise up a huge cedar pole of those dimensions, and there is always a crowd standing on the sidewalk volunteering suggestions." (Anonymous 1881) The most prolific use of cedar, however, was in the manufacturing of cedar charcoal.
Cedar chopping and charcoal burning were inextricably tied throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Charcoal and cedar were both used throughout Central Texas for fuel. Before the arrival of the railroad and the invention of the automobile, cedar was usually turned into charcoal in the cedar breaks because the charcoal was easier to transport (Cartwright 1966:250):-Cedar was the preferred wood to use in the charcoal kilns because "cedar made a charcoal that was light, would burn with an even heat, and cause no smoke, and left no ashes" (Toeppenvein and Toeppenvein 1950:8). The 'charcoal burners,' as they were called, were similar to cedar choppers in that they worked very hard in a non-glorious, but necessary, industry. Their days were usually spent cutting and de-barking the cedar. Afternoons were dedicated to building the charcoal kilns, and during the evenings, someone had to stay awake all night, monitoring the burning of the cedar and continually loading the kiln. Once the kiln was cool the next morning, the charcoal would be removed, bagged, and prepared for sale (Toeppenvein and Toeppenvein 1950:7).
Cedar charcoal, like the cedar poles themselves, had many uses in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Cedar charcoal was used in charcoal pills, in the chicken feed (to make the chickens 'perky'), in metalworking, as a medicine for stomach problems (it was mixed with honey and swallowed), as insulating for iceboxes, as an ingredient in chewing gum, to freshen stale water, as tooth powder, and as garden fertilizer (Toeppenvein and Toeppenvein 1950:8-10). During the Civil War, cedar charcoal was an important ingredient in locally-produced gunpowder. The charcoal was mixed with sulfur and bat guano to produce a very toxic and combustible powder that was used throughout the south (Seiler 2002).
The people who cut the cedar to produce all of these products had several names—cedar choppers, cedar cutters, cedar whackers, cedar getters, and cedar hackers. No matter what their name, they had a pervading effect on Central Texas culture and folklore. "He is an interesting individual, this cedar cutter of central Texas, and, strangely, his story has never been told." (Cartwright 1966:247)
Today, 'cedar chopper' is a derisive term used throughout the area to refer to a lazy and rustic, or unrefined, individual, but this was not always the case. Those who knew actual cedar choppers or used their products in the past said. "They were very independent and very proud people, and aggressive, very aggressive" (Wilson 1978).
For the most part, cedar choppers were families or single men who were often considered "loners" and "marginal" by the surrounding community (Greene 1969:317). They were "rough people," but not Ii "criminal types," for the most part (Wilson 1978). Charles Wimberley (1981, 1988) fondly recounts stories of men named Snuffy Pruett, Honest John, Old Sholton, and Flatnose Joe—cedar choppers who have entered the folklore of turn of the century life in Central Texas (Figure 19).
The cedar worker was an independent 'contractor' who traveled throughout the area, cutting cedar and selling it to local cedar yards. Men and women traveled with their families from cedar break to cedar break until either the cedar ran out or they just decided it was time to move on. They were their own boss, and they were paid per cedar log rather than an hourly wage (Wimberley 1988:23). The entire family was usually involved in daily work, including women and children (Cartwright 1966:249). The day began at sunrise, and cutting would continue until around 2:00 pm when the truck or wagon was loaded and brought to the cedar yard for sale (Gilman 1984; Wimberley 1988:24).
Since the family constantly traveled to find work, they lived in 'pioneer-like' conditions, even into the early twentieth century. "They rode on wagons drawn by willow-tailed ponies, heaped high with their plunder, and topped with ragged children and coops of chickens" (Wimberley 1988:23). During an oral interview in 1984, Joe Gilman of Austin discussed his family's involvement in the Central Texas cedar industry and reminisced about other cedar chopper families. Gilman's uncle, Robert Hickman, owned a cedar yard off of Route 620 in Jollyville, Texas, which had over 300 choppers deliver their cedar each week. In discussing the living arrangements of the cedar choppers, Gilman said, "...usually whatever ranch they'd be cutting cedar on; they would just camp there. Sometimes they would try to find a house and rent it, but if not, they'd just built [sic] them a tent or whatever" (Gilman 1984).
Similarly, Frank Wilson of Austin stated in an oral interview in 1974, "As far as building themselves a nice home out of the natural material that they had lying around for free for the taking, well, they didn't bother, they didn't bother about that" (Wilson 1974). He continued to say, "They dug no well, they didn't build anything, they dig a hole in the ground, and they'd carry water from the creek if they wanted water." Charles Wimberley (1988:24), who also grew up in the Hill Country, echoed these sentiments: "At campsites near water they stopped to throw up their rag houses or shanties of tin and scrap lumber and brush, to chop select timber into posts so long as the break suited their whim."
While the majority of cedar chopping was conducted by single men or families working as independent contractors, archival research indicated that other means were sometimes necessary to get people to cut cedar. In 1907, the Texas State Penitentiary Board put an ad in the Austin Statesman advertising for the leasing of convicts for manual labor (Reed 1907). (The practice of leasing out convicts was first attempted in 1871 and resumed in 1883. For 30 years, the State Penitentiary Board leased the convicts to whoever would pay a fee for their labor.) One of the respondents to this ad was the J. W. Reed Cedar Company of Burnet, Texas (Figure 20). It is not known if the company was successful in their attempt to hire the convicts for this task, but this probably was not the only time such a labor force was used for this work.
Frank Wilson (1974), Joe Gilman (1984), and Charles Wimberley (1981,1988) all reported that cedar choppers were proud individuals who took great satisfaction in the completion of their tasks. "Never knew a cedar cutter who wouldn't recommend himself pretty highly" (Wimberley 1981:I 11).
Wimberley (1988:21-24) reports that cedar workers divided their profession into several skill levels: cedar cutter, cedar chopper, cedar whacker, and cedar hacker. The cedar cutter was the most skilled of the group. He made the best cedar posts with the least effort and in the shortest period of time. The cedar chopper was also a skilled lumberman, but "he was never quite able to master the cedar cutter's special skill with the little double-bit ax" (Wimberley 1988:23). The cedar whacker was characterized as careless and reckless. He turned out 'sorry-looking' posts and left a mess wherever he went. The worst of the group was the cedar hacker. He "took to cedars like a blind beaver with the hiccups but with less favorable results" (Wimberley 1988:23).
Whereas the cedar cutter and cedar chopper were skilled enough to earn a living from their work, the cedar whacker and cedar hacker often became a cedar worker/s assistant instead of working for themselves. He or she would help the skilled cedar workers clean the trucks of twigs and bark and load them on the wagons or trucks for delivery.
All the hard work of the cedar chopper or cutter was regulated by a well-developed cedar industry. The cedar chopper had certain responsibilities to prepare his product for sale, but it was up to the cedar yards to form the raw cedar timbers into fuel, usable posts, shingles, railroad ties, or telegraph/telephone poles.
The cedar chopper "didn't make anything, they just cut the wood, and they cut it into cords, cord lengths, they call them, and they cut it up" (Wilson 1978). They then went to the cedar yard, where they 23 hoped to sell their posts to buy their families dinner (Gilman 1984). Each cedar post brought to the yard was inspected and measured prior to sale. The minimum diameter for a usable piece of cedar was 4 inches. This was determined by using the 'horseshoe test'—"if the top end of the post could easily be passed between the prongs of the horseshoe without the bark touching either side, it dam [sic] well wasn't a four-inch post" (Wimberley 1988:27).
The length of a cedar post varied, and choppers made pieces that were six, seven, eight, ten, and twelve feet long, with the average post measuring 6.5 feet in length (Gilman 1984; Wimberley 1988:66). All posts were also to be smooth and rounded, with all of the knots sanded down and all limbs cut off.
The cedar choppers were paid per pole. On average, each good pole brought the chopper 6 cents at the turn of the century (Wimberley 1988:66). Twenty percent of the total amount for that day was then deducted for a 'break fee.' Most good cedar cutters or cedar choppers would earn between S10 and $15 for a day's work (Gilman 1984). Tracking down the exact amount each cedar chopper was paid is problematic, however, as a tax court decision at the turn of the century stated that cedar choppers were an independent salesman and that no taxes were to be held out of their pay. Since no taxes were paid, most cedar yards didn't bother to keep exact records of any of these transactions (Cartwright 1966:247).
Once the cedar choppers had been paid and were on their way, the cedar yard would calculate the amount owed to the property owner or Lease. The cedar yard would get to keep the cedar and use it in whatever way they saw fit, as long as they paid the property representative an overhead for all cedar that came from their property. According to Joe Gilman (1984), the average fee paid out to the landowner/lessee between 1900 and 1920 was 10-percent. Ten percent of the total amount of each load of cedar was placed aside for the property owner. The owner would then go by each cedar yard once a month or so to collect their checks.
The cedar yards either made the cedar products themselves or sold the lumber wholesale to other companies for their use. The poles, for example, were sold to the railroad, fuel suppliers, or inner-city lumber yards.
The general public obtained cedarwood and cedar products either directly from the cedar yards or from lumber companies. Several towns in southern Williamson County were founded on the lumber industry. Cedar Park, as the name suggests, was founded in 1870 when settlers grouped in the area to ....— collectively cut cedar posts and process them for sale. Similarly, the community of Jollyville, just south of Cedar Park, was founded in 1866 and known for its cedar posts and the production of charcoal (Norvell 1900:31). Jollyville was the location of Joe Gilman's uncle's cedar yard, as mentioned earlier. In his 1984 oral interview, Gilman discussed the Cahill and Hickman Lumber Company as being one the largest cedar enterprises in the area, with a yard in Jollyville that was "central to where everybody was cutting," as well as a smaller yard in Austin, which is where city folk purchased their cedar products.
In 1900, Williamson County had a population of 38,072 (Texas Almanac 1904:392). Though the majority of the population lived in Georgetown, Round Rock, and Taylor, smaller communities based on lumber production, such as Jollyville and Cedar Park, retained modest populations throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Nearby, the City of Austin had a population of over 22,000 people in 1900 (Texas Almanac 1904:40). All of these people needed fuel and building supplies, which were brought to inner-city businesses for distribution. In the 1905 City Directory, the City of Austin had twenty wood and coal dealers and six lumber dealers, one of which was Cahill and Hickman Lumber. Lumber and wood/charcoal dealers continued to be one of the largest commercial enterprises in the city through the first three decades of the twentieth century, perpetuating the need for cut cedar and, thus, cedar choppers.
Site 41WM892 is located between Cedar Park and Jollyville, just north of Route 620. This area was amongst the highest cedar-producing areas in the Hill Country. Not only was the cedar chopped here, but several cedar yards were located in Jollyville and Cedar Park so that the cutters would have a shorter distance to haul the raw materials.
The property on which site 41WM892 is located was leased for three years for cedar chopping by A. F. Martin and Brother of Austin. Archival research clearly reveals that the Martins were not directly tied to the cedar business. All evidence suggests that the Martins were part of a larger group of businessmen who bought cedar chopping rights at several properties in Williamson County to earn the 10-percent revenue on all cedar brought to the cedar yards from their leased property. They were not directly tied to the cedar industry beyond setting up land leasing and collecting a handsome fee for their efforts.
A search of the Austin City Directories ties the Martins to the lime business from the 1880s through at least 1910 (Austin City Directories). In 1888, Alfred F. Martin and a Mr. Walker were listed as owners of the Austin White Lime Company. It appears that Walker was quickly either bought out or somehow removed from the company, as the business became the property of A. F. Martin and his brother Joseph A. Martin as of the 1891 directory. In the 1903-04 directory, the Austin White Lime Company was located at 415 Congress Avenue. It was listed as the "Best and Cheapest Place to Buy Lime, Plaster Paris, Cement, Fire Brick, Sewer Pipe, Acme Cement Plaster, etc." (Austin City Directory 1903-4:front cover).
Based on the information provided in the 1905 directory, the Martin brothers made many improvements to their business between 1904 and 1905. While their business was still located at 415 Congress Avenue, they had acquired a large warehouse at the corner of 4th Street and East Avenue (now IH-35). In addition, they took out a large ad in the directory that advertised that they were the "Largest lime works in Texas, and Best Shipping Facilities, Call on us or write for delivered prices on car lots to any railroad point in Texas" (Austin City Directory 1905:41).
The improvements in their business and the mentioning of their railroad services showed that the Martins had entered a new phase of commerce. They were shipping large quantities of their products throughout Texas and were likely looking for other ways to use their railroad connections to earn a profit. The railroad figured prominently in their deed with property owner John Tyler. According to the initial conditions of the contract, the cedar choppers would work on the property during the week and send their cedar to the cedar yards each day via the Houston & Texas Central Railroad (soon to become the Austin and Northwestern Railroad, then the Southern Pacific Railroad). This rail spur ran directly adjacent to the site and stopped in Jollyville and Austin for convenient delivery to whichever cedar yard the choppers chose to use. The Martins did not need to spend much time away from the Austin Lime Company and could travel to collect their checks for the cedar off of their land whenever it was convenient for them.
This context is verified by the material that remains noted during both the 1996 survey and the current analysis. The rock walls were hastily constructed out of uncut, locally-available limestone fragments. The fragments were collected from the surface and loosely piled into linear arrangements, rather than cleaved or mortared in place. In addition, no evidence of a domestic structure was found on the site, and very few artifacts, such as ceramics or glass, were found on the surface or in the limited subsurface investigations.
According to the context, these cedar choppers either camped on the site with their families or found a house to rent Since the train was used to transport the cedar posts each day, the choppers could have ridden to Jollyville or Austin with their cedar and stayed there during the evenings in a rented house or a campsite closer to town. Another hypothesis for the lack of material goods is that the cedar choppers were known to have put up rough tents and have very few material goods. Since they traveled all of the time, their loads needed to be light, and the fewer goods they had, the less likely any of those materials would have been left behind and enter the archaeological record.
The other significant issue with this site is that it cannot be determined exactly how long each group remained at the site or how long it was used for its cedar. Even though the lease from Tyler to the Martins was for three years, the cedar would have only been forested for a short time. By law, cedar yards were not required to keep records of any of their transactions with cedar choppers, and the Martins likely collected their checks from the various cedar yards and entered the profits in with those from the Austin Lime Company.
It is impossible to determine exactly who worked at site 41WM892 and who built the rock walls throughout the area, but that was the lifestyle of the cedar chopper. They were independent loners who indelibly affected everyday life for Central Texans. "Though he always worked standing on another person's property, he lived and passed into oblivion without having ever known the feel of wearing another man's collar—union or boss" (Wimberley 1988:23).
Cultural resource documentation was conducted by SWCA on-site 41WM892, the Cedar Choppers Site, near Cedar Park and Jollyville, Texas. The work was based on a site mitigation plan developed by the GLO in 1996, related to findings by archaeologists from Prewitt and Associates. The 2002 fieldwork included site mapping, photographic documentation, architectural analysis of the above-ground features, and a limited investigation of the dugout feature. The mapping and photographs showed that the stone walls and piles of limestone were likely not a part of a larger site plan but were expediently constructed and gathered as new enclosures were needed. The architectural analysis shows that these features are formed of uncut limestone that was merely piled rather than carefully cleaved or mortared into place. They were created for short-tenet occupation and reflect the transitory nature of the cedar chopping business.
Very few artifacts were found at the site, reiterating the short occupation of the cedar choppers. This site .could have been used as a campsite during the week and for equipment storage, and as animal enclosures throughout the lumbering period. If this was the case, any material goods brought to the site would have been removed once the occupation was completed. The only artifacts found on the site were diffuse scatter of whiteware, ironstone, bottle glass (aqua, clear, amber, and milk), and tin can fragments, as well as automobile parts from a vehicle that was apparently abandoned at the site.
The dugout feature had a packed-earth floor, partial limestone walls, and a pressed tin-covered roof. Since this area is the only feature at the site that exhibits any evidence of a covering, it was likely used as a camping shelter or for equipment storage. Once it was abandoned, it could have been inhabited by the man mentioned in oral history.
A historical context for cedar chopping in Central Texas was developed using primary and secondary sources at numerous repositories. This context included a biological description of cedar, an in-depth look at the cedar choppers themselves, and an analysis of the cedar industry in Central Texas. Site 41WM892 was then placed within this context to learn more about how the property was lumbered, as well as provide information about the daily lives of those who might have worked there and built the physical remains we see today.
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