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Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Road
Houston, TX 77055

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Third Thursday of each month
Time: 6:30 pm - 8:45 pm

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Email: Phone: 713-557-1496

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HAS MONTHLY MEETING 13th February, 2020

"Digging Colonial Texas: Past, Present, and Future Archeology at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site - Dr. Sarah Chesney

Sarah Chesney
Calling all avid Texas historians and archeologists!!!! The February meeting of the Houston Archeological Society will be held on Thursday, February 13, 6:30pm. at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center located at 1414 Wirt Road in West Houston. (Please note this is a week earlier than our normally scheduled third Thursday meetings!) Professional archeologist, Dr. Sarah Chesney will present a program on archeological excavations at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, just west of Katy, Texas. Snacks and social including our popular Show and Tell features kick off at 6:30pm. with the program beginning at 7 pm. The meeting is free of charge and open to the public and there is plenty of free parking.

First designated as a State Archeological Landmark in 1983 and subsequently added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is one of the most significant archeological sites in colonial Texas history. The first formal archeological survey on the site dates to 1964, and several subsequent surveys have indicated the presence of significant archeological resources below ground. This presentation will discuss the work that has been done on the site in the past, the results of the most recent testing done over the past year (with lots of help from HAS) and some of the plans for future work beginning this spring.

Founded in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin as the capital of the recently established Austin Colony in Mexican Texas, the town of San Felipe de Austin was a melting pot of ideas, people, and languages from across Mexico and the United States. Settlers and residents of Austin’s colony came to San Felipe de Austin to receive their land grants, enter into building and settlement contracts, purchase supplies, and learn of the latest news from Mexico and the frontier. Although small by modern standards – at its height there were approximately 50 buildings in town and about 600 residents – the town of San Felipe de Austin was the second largest in Mexican Texas and served as the de facto-seat of local government.

As tensions between Anglo settlers and the Mexican government escalated in the 1830s and talk turned toward revolution, San Felipe de Austin became a flashpoint, and both a real and a symbolic target of General Santa Ana after the fall of the Alamo. On March 29, 1836, the town of San Felipe de Austin was burned to the ground, and residents fled north as part of a larger movement known as the Runaway Scrape. After the end of the fighting, the government of the newly formed Republic of Texas moved west, and the town of San Felipe de Austin faded into memory. Today 70 acres of the original town comprise San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, and it remains one of the most significant archeological sites in colonial Texas history.

A native Texan, Dr. Sarah Chesney was born and raised in Austin, and has wanted to be an archeologist since she was 8 years old. She earned her BA in Anthropology and Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and her MA (2009) and PhD (2014) from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Sarah has worked as professional archeologist for over a decade across the Mid-Atlantic in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania including as a member of the archeological crew at Colonial Williamsburg. She moved back to Texas in 2017, and was hired as the first site-specific archeologist for the Historic Sites Division of the Texas Historical Commission in January 2018. She is an active member of the Houston Archeological Society and the Texas Archeological Society, and currently serves on the Executive Board of the TAS as the President-Elect. As the onsite archeologist at San Felipe de Austin, Sarah is developing a permanent public archeology program that will honor both the significant archeological resources of this important site while using those resources to educate visitors about the importance of this place and the value of preserving the past for future generations.

For more information about this program or about the Houston Archeological Society, please contact Linda Gorski, at



HAS Journal No. 141 is now available. Complimentary copies may be obtained by HAS members at the monthly meetings. Non-HAS members may purchase copies through Go to the HAS Journals Section for a link to the publication on the website. Alternatively, copies may be purchased at the HAS Monthly Meetings.

HAS REPORT #33 (Woodlands: New Discovery of a Small Acheulean Site in the Eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa by Wilson "Dub" Crook III) NOW AVAILABLE

Report #33 Woodlands: New Discovery of a Small Acheulean Site in the Eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. This report highlights Dub’s continuing work on sites in South Africa. This publication is available free to members of the Society. Members should make sure that they collect their copy of this report at the next monthly meeting. If you wish to purchase additional copies then you can find them on You can find the appropriate links in our List section.

To learn more about the history behind our archeological society contact Publicity/Outreach: