Texas Archeological Stewardship Network 2020 Award Recipients

By Farah Merchant, THC Preservation Scholar
University of Texas at Austin, English

On August 1, Brad Jones, State Archeologist and THC Archeology Division director and Rebecca Shelton, THC regional archeologist and Texas Archeological Stewardship Network (TASN) coordinator, announced the recipients of the Jim Word Award and Norman Flaigg Certificate of Outstanding Performance at the TASN virtual meeting. The awards honor the service, commitment, and work of stewards. The Jim Word Award highlights the many years of service to the THC and the stewardship program. The Norman Flaigg Certificate of Outstanding Performance honors stewards’ exemplary contributions to archeology and the TASN program for the previous year.

Jim Word Awards

Five TASN members were honored for 30 years of service. These stewards include Joe Hudgins, Tom Middlebrook, Johnney Pollan, Jimmy Smith, and John Stockley. A glimpse into the TASN archives illuminates the depth of their work and the breadth of their contributions to preserving the history of Texas. In addition to the many sites recorded and collections analyzed, these stewards share their research through publications and public outreach. They have set the standard high for their collaborative approach to archeology, which includes participation and service in their local societies, as well as mentoring the next generation of stewards.

Hudgins (Wharton County) is a stalwart member of the Houston Archeological and Fort Bend Archeological societies, authoring many of the works published in their journals and newsletters. To date, he has authored or co-authored over 70 publications for local, regional, and state journals, such as La Tierra, Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, Fort Bend County Archeological Society Reports, and the Journal of the Houston Archeological Society.

In Nacogdoches County, Middlebrook’s pursuit of knowledge is seen through his meticulous research on topics extending from the ancient Caddo to the Spanish Colonial presence in East Texas. Recently, he researched pXRF (portable X-ray fluorescence) data from 11 ceramic sherds from Morre Mound and lead balls from Mayview site. Due to his commitment to avocational archeology throughout the state, he serves as a TASN advisor. He mentors and guides avocational groups and archeology societies throughout the state and shares his work at national conferences.

Pollan (Brazoria County) has wide-ranging interests from ceramics to mammoth bones, which is perfect for museum work. For years, he helped maintain the collections at the Brazosport Museum of Natural Science. Recently, his role shifted from maintaining the collections to adding his own work to the museum. Important discoveries he has uncovered at a regional site are now housed there. Along with his work at the museum, he analyzed, documented, and placed two collections during the last year.

Thirty years ago, Smith (Johnson County) recorded a prehistoric rockshelter site containing at least one burial; Perdiz, Washita, Bonham, and Scallorn arrow points; deer and fish bones; burned rock; deer antler flaking tool; and shell scoop. His volunteer work following the uncovering of this site continued to be exceptional, uncovering, excavating, and recording numerous sites. In 2010, he received the Heritage Preservation Award in the category of Archeological Heritage for his many years of work preserving the Techado Springs Pueblo site. He has served for years as the curator at the Big Bear Native American Museum in Cleburne.

As a longtime resident of South Texas, Stockley (Bexar County) has been recognized by Tom Hester, retired archeologist and TASN Advisor, as a “historian, archeologist par excellence of the middle Rio Grande and both sides of the border.” He assists other archeologists who come to the region, including Daniel Potter who was investigating the Eagle Pass area. His expertise on border forts helped him identify a cartridge as a .45-.70 caliber and associate with the Fort Duncan occupation.

The five TASN members awarded for 20 years of service include Bryan Boyd, Roy Craig, Connie Hodges, Gary McKee, and Marisue Potts. Their work includes serving on historical associations, organizing events and exhibits, volunteering at different sites, and much more.

As a fifth-generation East Texan, Boyd (Gregg County) heard stories of his hometown, its diversity, and its rich culture that fostered his love for the region and its history. His passion for photography further cultivated a love for the area around him and the artifacts underneath.

Much of Craig’s (Bandera County) work as a steward has centered on volunteering. Recently, he assisted three landowners, teaching them how to respond when discovering archeological artifacts on their land, and distributed stacks of THC educational materials throughout his region to further educate people. THC Regional Archeologist Tiffany Osburn noted that Roy’s “willingness to assist the THC has always been appreciated, and he is known for many years of contributing to the archeology of the Hill Country west of San Antonio and beyond.”

Hodge (Shelby County) has a passion for the history along El Camino Real de los Tejas that led to the identification of multiple sites. Her participation at Mission Dolores and the Early Texas Sawmill in San Augustine County led to the recognition of these sites as historic landmarks. Her regional expertise makes her a reliable steward for the THC and landowners in the area.

McKee’s interest in the natural world ranges from zoology, botany, geology, and hydrology, making him an expert and curious learner of Fayette County, and resulting in his tenure as co-chair of the Fayette County Historical Commission. His interests also include polka music. Since grade school, he has loved to dance to folk songs such as “Stodola Pumpa” and the “Hokey Pokey.”

Potts grew up surrounded by history in Motley County. Her family owns the historic Matador Land and Cattle Company, where she spent the majority of her childhood and which inspired her love for history. Now, she serves as chair and founding board member of the Motley County Historical Museum in Matador and on the board of the Comanchero Canyons Museum in Quitaque.

Norman Flaigg Certificates of Outstanding Performance

Each year, these awards are typically presented by the regional archeologist at the annual meeting and workshop since much of the work completed by these stewards focuses on the region where they work or reside. However, due to the virtual format of the workshop, the awards are detailed here.

In Region 2/North Texas, four stewards—Andy Burcham, Rolla Shaller, Art Tawater, and Doug Wilkens—received commendation. Burcham (Potter County) committed over 300 hours to archeology work, digging, excavating, and analyzing. However, much of his time was spent completing pre-field work for the 2019 Texas Archeological Society (TAS) Field School in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. When working in the field, he worked at the Currie Rock Art Site.

Shaller (Randall County) recently published a book titled History of Archeological Investigation at Palo Duro Canyon State Park: Journal of Texas Archeology and History, Special Report No. 4 with Dr. Veronica Arias, curator at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM), and Anthony Lyle, archeologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. When not writing, he split his time volunteering at the PPHM and attending meetings either for the Panhandle Archeological Society, the Randall County Historical Commission, or the West Texas Historical Association. Even with a busy schedule of writing and cataloging, Shaller still found time to work in the field. In Potter County, he and fellow stewards investigated a possible archeological site and materials collected from the site. He also investigated Alibates Flint outcrops and Panhandle cultural ruins on a field trip to Kritser Ranch.

Tawater (Parker County) spent much of last year in the field. He monitored four sites and worked with six landowners, four individuals, and two organizations. When not doing field work, he assists employees of the THC with GPR (a radar system that scans, maps, and records information of the Earth’s subsurface to understand the geophysics of the plain), and other technological devices that offer a greater understanding of the land and area. Recently, he helped THC Regional Archeologists Arlo McKee and Tiffany Osburn at the Comanche Agency site in Throckmorton County.

Wilkens (Ochiltree County) helped develop and grow the Plains Archeological Research (PAR), a foundation focused on fostering research and creating works to be published. Members of PAR defined objectives and established a foundation for future research and fundraising. He also committed over 900 hours to steward work over the last year.

In Region 3/North-Central Texas, Bryan Jameson (Bosque County) continues to receive commendation for his work. He spent much of 2019 assisting other stewards and landowners and recording and surveying historic sites and artifacts. He assisted Tawater with an ongoing survey in Throckmorton County to locate the Comanche Indian village established in 1854. He assisted Dr. Kevin Hanselka, archeologist with the Texas Department of Transportation, by acting as a site supervisor, photographer, and crew chief, and worked on the written report after the excavation. At the request of landowners, he surveyed the Brooks Ranch. Other work includes recording two archeological sites near the Bonner Ranch, surveying and recording the historic site on the Sundown Valley Ranch in Bosque County, and writing descriptions of artifacts from the Brawley’s Cave Collection.

Gary Endsley (Cass County) was honored for his work in Region 4/East Texas. Volunteering 1,171 hours, Endsley participated in many projects around his community. He analyzed monuments at the 1842 International Boundary at Cass County’s eastern border. He restored the Union Missionary Baptist Church in Marion County, built in 1883 to serve the African American community. He worked on a junior historian group project at Old Smithland. Lastly, he completed cemetery surveys in Marion County for Freedom Colony communities. His work protected much of the history and historic infrastructure of East Texas.

Four stewards in Region 5/Coastal Texas received the Norman Flaigg award for their work in 2019. Frank Condron (Jackson County) is very active in numerous regional societies and has provided educational handouts and presented to several organizations as part of his public outreach and education efforts. Last year, he logged 529 hours for public outreach and conducted field work by monitoring and investigating several sites.  He continues to serve as a liaison for his community as chair of the Jackson County Historical Commission.

Wilson “Dub” Crook (Harris County) divided his 1,085 hours of volunteer work between delivering presentations, writing manuscripts, providing landowner assistance, and analyzing collections. He spoke to the Houston Archeological Society (HAS), the Houston Gem and Mineral Society, the East Texas Archeological Society, North Texas Archeological Society (NTAS) in Tarrant County, and the Southeast Texas Master Naturalists. Publications included the HAS Journal and The Journal. Crook maintains his fellowship in the Leaky Foundation, has embraced using a virtual format for his presentations, and continues to provide outreach and education.

Charlie Gordy (Galveston County) devoted much of his 259 volunteer hours to monitoring numerous sites, presenting his findings to regional societies, and assisting landowners and organizations with their collections or queries on archeological matters. Highlights from his bi-annual reports include his continued work at the Lamar Homesite through remote sensing and excavations. He has consulted with cultural resource management firms on the Arcola Sugar Mill and created a Fort Bend ArcGIS project identifying historic structures using historic aerials. He continues to assess flood risk to historic cemeteries, including the William Little and Beneficial cemeteries. He drove many miles from the south to attend the TAS field school in Palo Duro Canyon and conducted surveys in the canyons.   

Sandra Rogers (Walker County) works tirelessly throughout the state to assist with a variety of projects—from cemetery identification and protection to providing survey and site recording assistance to the Forest Service, she uses her archival research skills and her love for the outdoors to aid the community. She volunteered 881 hours and drove 6,905 miles to assist with monitoring, assessment of sites, evaluation of collections, and to provide outreach and information to landowners and other institutions.

In Region 7/Central Texas, Steve Davis, Chris Meis, and Bob Ward were recognized for their contributions. Davis (Travis County) divided his 583 volunteer hours on various projects throughout the state. He logged 6,691 miles to record 11 new sites during the last year and monitored and investigated five others. He worked with four collections and participated in workshops and presentations. He continued his volunteer work of several years at the THC archeology lab and participated in the TAS field school in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Meis (Lampasas County), who has served on the board of NTAS and currently serves as the TAS Board Annual Meeting Committee Chair, also devotes much of his volunteer work to the TASN. Last year, he divided his 374 hours for the program between site monitoring and landowner assistance. In addition, he assisted several agencies, institutions, and organizations with archeological or history inquiries. Last fall, Meis hosted an Atlas training session and encouraged his fellow stewards to incorporate new site recording strategies using QGIS and other readily available software.

Ward (Travis County), who is chair of the Travis County Historical Commission and historian for the THC Antiquity Advisory Board, assists the City of Austin to monitor sites along Loop 360 and has worked to preserve an 1850s-era blockhouse in north Travis County. He worked with the Audubon Society documenting the historic site of Fort Prairie, an early Travis County site and Freedom Colony. Ward enlists volunteers from his community who are part of the nonprofit El Camino Real de los Tejas National Trail Association to document parks along Onion Creek. He assisted the Travis County Parks with identifying the African American school in Hayden Springs and a potential freedom colony in Manor. Ward assisted developers of the The Grove, Saltillo Plaza, and Estancia with interpretive materials for the history of the area. Finally, he worked on preserving and documenting the history at the Coleman Springs Site.  

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