State Archives Educator Survey


Are you a Texas K-12 educator seeking primary sources for your classroom? Would you like to see the State Archives offer programming for you and your students? Our education outreach team wants to hear from you! Let us know more about what we may offer you and your students by completing this short survey by May 15: https://forms.gle/CJeetRmxeDbzR2oq9

Explore the collections, programs and services offered from Archives & Reference on our website here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc.

Discoveries from the Andy Kyle Archeological Collection at the Sam Houston Center

By Lisa Miesch, Archivist/Museum Curator, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center


Over a period of many years, Liberty, Texas resident and avocational archeologist Andrew James “Andy” Kyle (1915-2014) collected prehistoric artifacts from numerous sites in southeast Texas. He eventually amassed a collection of more than 30,000 prehistoric artifacts from 95 southeast Texas surface sites in nine counties, including Liberty, Polk, Jasper, Tyler, and Hardin Counties. In 1977, he donated his collection to the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center.

Surface collections such as Kyle’s make up much of the archeological record in Texas. Because of erosion and damage from modern construction activities, there is little information available from stratified or buried sites. While not as complete as that from stratified sites, data from surface sites can still be significant. This is especially the case with Kyle’s collection, as he painstakingly documented and recorded his discoveries by site. The sites represent an area between the Trinity and Sabine Rivers and are representative not only of southeast Texas archeology, but include Louisiana influences as well.

Points from the Andy Kyle Collection on display in the Sam Houston Center museum.

In 2017, as the Sam Houston Center was planning the renovation of its museum, the Center requested the Houston Archeological Society (HAS) to examine the Kyle collection and assist in identifying and selecting artifacts for a new exhibit on the prehistory of the Center’s ten-county region. During this process and during subsequent examination of the collection, HAS made numerous discoveries that have increased our knowledge of the earliest inhabitants of southeast Texas, and their investigation continues.

The majority of the artifacts consist of projectile points (stone tools used for arrows, spears, and darts and commonly known as “arrowheads”), but also included are cutting and scraping tools, drills, grinding stones, and pottery. A significant number of items were constructed from heat-treated petrified wood. They range from the Paleoindian (ca. 13,500-8,000 BP*) to the Late Prehistoric periods (ca. 1,400-500 BP).

One of the most significant discoveries from the collection was the presence of Paleoindian projectile points, including the bases of two broken Clovis points. These points are from the Wood Springs site, only 0.4 mile southeast of the Sam Houston Center. (Wood Springs is a minor tributary of the Trinity River). This site was likely a seasonal site for Clovis-era nomadic hunters following big game animals, as opposed to a permanent campsite. The site’s abundant water would have been attractive to humans and animals alike.

Clovis Point 1 (obverse)
Clovis Point 2 (obverse)

The points represent the first reported occurrence of the Clovis culture in Liberty County, documenting the earliest occupation of the area to at least 13,000 years ago. Seven additional artifacts of Clovis affinity from the Wood Springs site were also identified as well as two tooth fragments from a mastodon and a mammoth. Large mammals like mammoths and mastodons were hunted for food by the Clovis people. These animals went extinct about 10,000-11,000 years ago. The larger fragment is highly polished and may have served as a tool. All of these artifacts may be viewed in the museum’s prehistory exhibit.

Fragments of mastodon tooth.

[Images are taken from The Prehistory of Southeast Texas: Observations from the Andy Kyle Archeological Collection, Power Point presentation by Wilson W. “Dub” Crook III, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, October 2, 2018.]

The Savoy site is another of the more prolific sites represented in the Kyle Collection. It is located about 2.6 miles southwest of the Moss Hill community in north-central Liberty County. Among the significant items from this site discovered in the collection by HAS members were 58 sherds from a large oval-shaped vessel, that Andy Kyle had bagged separately from all the other sherds he collected at that site. The sherds have sweeping curvilinear designs made by a bone or wood tool (“stamped”). Two large sections of the vessel were retrofitted by HAS members, which indicated a large oval-shaped bowl about 12 inches across.

Mabin Stamped var. Joe’s Bayou vessel

The sherds are from a “Mabin Stamped” vessel, an early ceramic type from the Woodland Period (2,000-1,400 BP). After extensive examination of the sherds’ decoration, the piece has been tentatively identified as “Mabin Stamped, var. Joe’s Bayou,” a rare variety of ceramics previously found at only five sites in eastern Louisiana and western Mississippi, adjacent to the Mississippi River. This marks the first known occurrence of this type outside the Lower Mississippi Valley as well as in the state of Texas. In each of the other cases, only a single sherd was found. Considering the number of sherds found and the likely size of the vessel, this piece in the Kyle collection represents the best-known example of this type of pottery. It is the only decorated piece of pottery in the entire Kyle collection. It was likely made in the Lower Mississippi Valley and traded or exchanged between various groups before ending up at the Savoy site. (This item is not currently on exhibit.)

Detail of stamping design on exterior of the vessel

[Images are taken from The Prehistory of Southeast Texas: Observations from the Andy Kyle Archeological Collection, Power Point presentation by Wilson W. “Dub” Crook III, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, October 2, 2018.]

The Sam Houston Center’s museum is currently open by appointment only. Please call 936-336-8821 to reserve an appointment. For more information, please visit the Center’s web page at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/shc/index.html.

[*BP = “Before Present”] What do different date abbreviations mean? Crow Canyon Archaeological Center https://www.crowcanyon.org/

Sources:

Crook, Wilson W. III, ed., The Andy Kyle Archeological Collection, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Houston Archeological Society, Report No. 29, 2017.

Crook, Wilson W. III et al., “A Rare Mabin Stamped, Var. Joe’s Bayou Vessel from the Savoy Site (41LB27), Liberty County, Texas,” The Journal 141: 53-61, Houston Archeological Society, 2019.

The Prehistory of Southeast Texas:  Observations from the Andy Kyle Archeological Collection, Power Point presentation by Wilson W. “Dub” Crook III, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, October 2, 2018.

Piece Together Texas History: State Archives Mural Now an Online Puzzle

Now a puzzle! Click the image and piece together this tribute to Texas history, Texas Moves Toward Statehood, with the online puzzle player.

We are on the edge of summer and many students and educators are starting to put their books away and perhaps log off Zoom for a while. Why not take a break and have a little fun with our images? Explore the detail of the mural Texas Moves Toward Statehood, featured in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, while clicking together the pieces in an online puzzle.

The mural Texas Moves Toward Statehood greets visitors to the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin. Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston and Anson Jones are a few of the figures featured in the artwork. For details of the mural, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/lobbyexhibits/mural-detail.

Learn more about Texas Moves Toward Statehood

Get the image: Would you like to print your own copy of the image? Visit this page.

Who are these people? Find out who the figures are and what the other elements indicate in the mural with a handy guide here.

Who painted the mural? The story of how Texas Moves Toward Statehood came to be is a fascinating one and who better to share it than the artist himself? Visit our online exhibit for that story and more details about the work in our online exhibit here.