Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guadalupe bifaces discovered on Guadalupe River

SEGUIN — Local archeologist Robert “Bob” Everett paid a visit Thursday morning to an excavation site where hundreds of arrowheads, spear points and other Native American artifacts were recently uncovered along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

“This is the richest archeological site I’ve seen on the Guadalupe River in 35 years,” said Everett, a steward with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network.

Everett and his wife, Carol, examined numerous artifacts when he visited Jody and Floyd McKee, owners of the Saffold House on Stockdale Highway along the south bank of the Guadalupe River.

“There could have been a series of villages of different tribes over the past 11,000 years. It appears to have been heavily occupied for an expansive period of time. This could have been a major village with satellite villages strewn along the river,” Everett said.

He said many of the artifacts are from the Archaic to Early Late Prehistoric periods in geological time. He also advised the McKees to carefully control their excavation sites and to measure them as well as they can.

Finds at the site include more than 30 Guadalupe Biface pieces, which were chert or flint tools whose use was uncertain. There are knives, adzes, drills and awls and one atlatl in addition to the spear points and arrowheads that range in size, shape and color, some with corner and side notches. The McKee collection includes a very rare Andice spear point in addition to Wilson, Georgetown and even a Hell Gap artifact that Everett said does not originate in this area.

Everett said the tools could have been used to deflesh an animal hide or to even carve wood.

It’s possible that the site on four acres in back of the McKees’ historical home could have been the site where dugout canoes were carved from local trees.

The McKees had put the house that was built in 1865 on the market after they restored it, and they had an offer from a venture capital firm that wanted to build condominiums, a restaurant and parking lots to serve them on the property.

“If they had paid what we were asking and we had sold it, we wouldn’t even know what we have here,” Floyd said.

Jody said her husband dug out some soil from the property behind their house and spread it in the yard around the house to fill it in.

Then one day it rained, and the McKees found artifacts that had washed to the surface of their yard.

“All of these arrowheads were everywhere. We took out another scoop, sifted the dirt and found all kinds of things. I took a rake and found stuff while raking the surface of the yard. I found five axe heads. You can almost kick the dirt and find something,” Jody said.

“We have stuff in boxes and buckets and on shelves, including more than 30 Guadalupe Bifaces. To find 30 of them in one hole is unheard of,” she said.

“We are not going to sell our house now, this is too much fun,” Jody said.

Since their significant find of Native American artifacts in their back yard, the McKees and their dogs have been working full time digging and sifting dirt in their big back yard. The dogs dig into the piles of dirt, unknowingly kicking up spear points and arrowheads in their attempts to cool down on a hot summer day.

Floyd said he wants the residents of Seguin, especially those who live alongside the river, to know what they have found in their yard.

“It would be a shame for people in Seguin not to know what they might have in their back yard,” Floyd said. Since their first discovery in March, he has dug out an 8 ft. deep, 10 ft. wide, and 50 ft. long trench in one section of their property. The McKees also dug in another spot overlooking the river, and found about five of the Guadalupe Biface pieces, which suggests that five to six people had a workshop at that site.

Floyd McKee has a special interest in Seguin’s history, as he is descended from Sarah Day and her son, James, who were original stockholders with Lot No. 27 on Walnut Branch’s original town map. Sarah was caught up in the Runaway Scrape in 1836, and her son and Floyd’s great-great uncle James Calahan were Texas Rangers assigned to the Seguin post. His grandfather, James McKee, was a district judge and congressman who owned property in the McKee Hill area where Juan Seguin is currently entombed.

The McKees plan to excavate much of the rear of their property to determine the extent of the site of prehistoric occupation, but will stop stop if they encounter a burial site.

“We haven’t run across any bones yet, if we do that we will have to stop and find out what it is,” Floyd McKee said.

Everett, who had been enticed to visit the site after being ill for some time, had brought along his reference book, “Prehistoric Artifacts of the Texas Indians.”

“This is an important site,” Everett reiterated.

“A lot of natives found old spear points and reworked them for reuse,” he said.

Carol Everett said her husband was happy to visit Seguin’s newly-discovered archeological site after a long recovery period.

“This made his day, it made his whole week,” she said.

“Look for a Clovis point, and I’ll be back,” Bob Everett told the McKees.

“There is no telling what we will find out here. Over the past 10,000 to 12,000 years there must have been a lot of camps out here. It is mind boggling,” Floyd said.

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