Who has contributed to the record of early peoples in Aransas County?
By Pam Stranahan
Chair, Aransas County Historical Commission
Archeology is a relatively new discipline, only defined in the U.S. in the 1950s, but people have been curious about artifacts and the people who left them for a very long time. In the coastal bend Martin and Potter made early surveys in the 1920s. Those records were privately published. In the 1920s and 1930s a father and step-son, Harold Pape and John Tunnell, began an extensive survey, making detailed notes as they collected artifacts. This collection was published by their son and grand-son recently.
In the late 1940s T. N. Campbell from UT-Austin conducted local excavations and published in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society. He continued his research and synthesis through the 1960s. In the 1960s, university trained archeologist Jim Corbin (who grew up in Ingleside) added to the interpretation of data from the coastal bend. Archeologist Bob Ricklis became the dean of coastal archeology as he investigated many regional sites while serving as senior archaeologist at TRC Environmental Corporation and president of Coastal Archaeological Research in Corpus Christi.
More recently members of the THC Archeological Stewards network, including Pat Braun and others, have continued to document site and finds in the region and report to the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at UT-Austin where the central depository of data and artifacts is housed. A group from the Museum of the Coastal Bend, Victoria, has recorded and preserved sites in the region. Texas Tech professor Tamra Walter on the mission sites near Victoria has conducted historic archeology.
The stories of these investigations will be told in an exhibit, “Archeology: Early Peoples” that will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 22 thru mid-January, with bi-weekly programs on Sunday afternoons at the History Center for Aransas County (801 E. Cedar St.)