Journal of Big Bend Studies
Table of Contents
Late Paleoindian Occupations at the Genevieve Lykes Duncan Site, Brewster County, Texas
The Center for Big Bend Studies of Sul Ross State University has been documenting and investigating archaeological sites since 1999 on the 02 Ranch in Brewster and Presidio counties, Texas. One of over 500 sites discovered, the Genevieve Lykes Duncan site,1 has deeply buried cultural deposits with intact thermal features dating to the Late Paleoindian period. The site was tested with hand-excavated units and backhoe trenches from 2010 through 2012, and radiocarbon data from the features indicate it is the earliest dated site in the greater Big Bend region by some 1,300 years. Notably, two plant-food preparation technologies ubiquitous across North America in the subsequent Archaic period—the use of stones as heating elements and use of groundstone implements—are well represented within the Late Paleoindian deposits. Findings from the testing phase at the site, including feature, artifact, and geoarchaeological data, are provided.
The Texas National Guard in the Big Bend During the Mexican Revolution, 1916–1917
In the summer of 1916 President Wilson called out the National Guard for border duties to counter the criminal and revolutionary threat from Mexico. While the bulk of the Texas National Guard went to the lower Rio Grande Valley, the 4th Texas Infantry and the 1st Squadron, Texas Cavalry, deployed to the Big Bend. The Big Bend was the Army’s last cavalry frontier, and with its vast distances, scarcity of water, dearth of communication, want of roads, unforgiving terrain, and rough trails, a mounted trooper and pack mule were required to operate effectively, although infantry personnel were essential for guarding fi xed points such as mines, supply points, and railroad bridges. The Big Bend was the most demanding environment of all the border stations manned by the National Guard on the U.S. southern boundary. This article is based on Texas National Guard and U.S. Army primary records. It provides a portrait of the two regiments, and examines the details of their deployment and experience.
Apollo Astronaut Training in the Big Bend
The Apollo Program was developed in response to President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to send humans to the Moon, and bring them safely back to Earth, within the decade. By late 1963, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration had recruited all of the astronauts who would train for the lunar exploration program. Instruction in how to recognize geological features on the Moon and, specifi cally, how to select the most geologically interesting rock samples for return to Earth, was a key element of astronaut training. Between March and July 1964, the astronaut recruits received classroom training in geology, and two groups of astronauts visited the Big Bend region of West Texas on geological field trips in April 1964. In the words of Ted Foss, one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration staff geologists coordinating the astronaut training program: “We can’t say what the Moon is like, exactly, but it may be similar to the Big Bend area.” Furthermore, a leading fi gure in planning geological training for the astronauts, Bill Muehlberger from the University of Texas, Austin, selected the Big Bend for fi eld training because the area offered the “greatest variety of geology in the smallest area than [sic] any other place in the United States.”
Entering and Exiting a Troubled Paradise: Big Bend Births and Deaths on the Eve of World War II
The goal of this study was to determine the circumstances under which persons were born and died in the Big Bend near the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. This was accomplished by analyzing the births that occurred in the 12 months preceding the 1940 census and the deaths that occurred in the 12 months following its completion. Births surviving childhood were tracked on Ancestry. com to determine where they eventually settled and, in many cases, died. The study revealed dramatically different demographic patterns for Anglos and Mexicans,1 with the Great Depression reducing fertility among Anglos and increasing mortality among Mexicans, especially young children. The Big Bend had ceased to be a frontier where isolation improved economic opportunities and health conditions, becoming instead an economic backwater where most born on the eve of World War II eventually left for better economic opportunities elsewhere.
Among the First: Hispanic American Soldiers During the Mexican Revolution
During the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, international boundaries provided little protection for residents of the American Southwest. Violence often spilled over into the U.S. in a period known as the era of the Border War. The sporadic bloodshed heightened already-strained relationships in the region as many Anglo Americans questioned the loyalty of their Hispanic American neighbors. This article argues that the Hispanic Americans of the New Mexico National Guard demonstrated their loyalty to the U.S. by being among the first men to step forward in her defense.
. . . the most pleasing factor of the mobilization was the way our Spanish-American members responded. It had been said that in the event of any impending trouble with Mexico, our Spanish-Americans would be slow in coming forward. The reverse was true. They were among the first to fall into the ranks and shoulder rifles.—Colonel E.C. Abbott, Commander of the 1st New Mexico Infantry (1916)
Are Elk Native to Texas? Historical and Archaeological Evidence for the Natural Occurence of Elk in Texas
Free-ranging elk, Cervus canadensis are found today in the Trans-Pecos region of Far West Texas. Throughout the twentieth century and until now, most wildlife biologists believed that elk were only native to the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas and, therefore, that the current elk are exotic imports, rather than a native species and subspecies. We present eyewitness accounts and reports from 1601 to 1905 documenting the historical presence of native elk throughout Texas; archaeological discoveries of elk bones, antlers, teeth, and paleofeces that indicate the presence of elk in Texas since the Pleistocene; historical reports of elk antlers found on the ground or in archaeological excavations; and examples of prehistoric rock art depicting native elk. We also present morphological, statistical, and DNA evidence to refute the idea that there was a separate species or subspecies called Merriam’s elk that once inhabited the Guadalupe Mountains. DNA research indicates that today’s freeranging elk in the Davis and Glass mountains are the result of the natural immigration of elk from the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico, just north of the Texas border, to recolonize areas of their former native range in the Trans-Pecos. The evidence presented substantiates the presence of native elk throughout Texas prior to the extirpation that occurred in the nineteenth century and demonstrates that they were not only the same species, but also the same subspecies, as the elk in and east of the Rocky Mountains today—Cervus canadensis canadensis.