Our next meeting will be October 20 via Zoom
The October 20, 2020 program will feature Reign Clark (Environmental Science and Engineering, LLC), Catrina Whitley (Bioarchaeology Support), and Ron Ralph (Consulting Archeologist), speaking on:
Back to Bondage: The Story of the Sugarland 95.
A cultural resources investigation within the James Reese Career and Technical Center in Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas, was conducted by Goshawk Environmental Consulting, Inc. under principal investigator, Ron Ralph, beginning in October 2017. The project area was once part of the larger Central State Prison Farm owned by the State of Texas since 1908.
No human material was found during the monitoring phase. But on February 19, 2018, several bones were accidentally discovered by a construction worker. After determining they were human, the process to answer questions surrounding the origin of the bones began. It would in the end become the discovery of the largest unknown convict cemetery in the State of Texas.
Reign Clark, Project Manager, began mechanical scraping of the area to determine the cemetery edges until eventually 95 graves were discovered. Exhumation work began on 6 June 2018 under the guidance of Dr. Catrina Whitley, Bioarcheologist, and required over 85 days to complete.
Archeological work was completed in September 2018. Exhaustive laboratory analysis and archival research went into the compilation of a 500-page report of findings revealing the cemetery was connected to Bullhead Convict Labor Camp, a camp that operated there from circa 1875 to 1908. Reign Clark returned there to oversee the reinterment process of the “Sugar Land 95”, as they became locally known, in November 2019, where they now rest in their original graves.
DNA and isotope analysis as well as genealogical research continues today in the quest for locating descendants and to actually put names on markers at the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp Cemetery.
Reign Clark is the Cultural Resources Practice Manager for Environmental Science and Engineering, LLC. Mr. Clark has 23 years of cultural resources research experience working on projects for both public institutions and private consulting firms in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mexico. He has participated in hundreds of cultural resources surveys, 16 National Register of Historic Places testing projects, six data recovery projects (including historic and prehistoric sites), and two historic cemetery relocation projects. He has served as project director, historian, and primary and contributing author, and expert witness.
Mr. Clark received the 2012 Texas Historical Commission’s Award of Merit for Report Production, served on the Texas Archeological Society Reports and Curation Committee for 3 terms, served as the first Vice President of the Council of Texas Archeologists (CTA), co-authored the Texas State Standards for Cemetery Exploration, and served as chair of the CTA History Committee.
Catrina Banks Whitley earned her degrees in Archaeology from Southern Methodist University (Ph.D. 2009, M.A. 2006). She works in Texas and New Mexico as a contract bioarchaeologist, with her company Bioarchaeology Support, conducting osteological analysis and/or as the project director/principal investigator of cemetery excavations. She has worked several projects which included large outreach components focusing on avocational archaeology participation and community involvement and has taught courses at the University of Texas at Arlington as an Adjunct Professor and Visiting Assistant Professor, and at Southern Methodist University as an Adjunct Professor and Senior Teaching Fellow.
She has 18 years of experience as a principal investigator, 20+ years of experience in the osteological analysis of human remains and has received 18+ burial permits from New Mexico and 5 permits from the state of Texas. She has authored and co-authored over 25 professional reports in Texas and New Mexico and numerous conference posters and presentations.
Dr. Whitley is currently the Principal Investigator for a DNA research project conducted by the Principal Research Group on the individuals excavated from the Bullhead Bayou Cemetery, Fort Bend County, Texas.
Ron Ralph was raised in California and trained in field methods by State Archeologist Fritz Riddell and Peter Blue Cloud of the Mohawk Nation, then years later, under the Texas State Archeologist. He received his BA in Anthropology from UT in 1969, working archeological projects all over the United States, Mexico and Guatemala. He joined TPWD in 1976 and conducted archeological research on parklands until his retirement in 1997. He continues to work as a consultant from his home office.
When conditions allow, the next regular meeting will be held on our usual schedule, the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm at Santa Rita Cantina's central location, 1206 W 38th St (26 Doors shopping center). Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month, except June and December. They are free and open to the public. For those who wish to come early, we gather around 5:45 PM for dinner, drinks, and fellowship. The short business meeting starts at 7:00 PM, followed by the guest speaker's presentation.