The Hernández Family Cemetery (41BX542) and Investigations of the Jesus Hernández and Simon Rojo Rodriguez Farmsteads (41BX2222 and 41BX2223), San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
The University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) was retained by Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio (HFHSA) to conduct two phases of archaeological investigation on a 90-acre tract of private property out of County Block 4298, Parcel 8C, ABS 421, and addressed as 13886 Watson Road. The subject property is within the Terrell Wells USGS quadrangle in far southwestern Bexar County approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) north of the Medina River. As the proposed HFHSA project will be using funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the project required review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Additionally, the property falls within the corporate limits of the City of San Antonio and platting will require review under the City of San Antonio Unified Development Code (Article 6 35-630 to 35-634). The Principal Investigator was Dr. Paul Shawn Marceaux, CAR Director. The Project Archaeologist was Clinton M. M. McKenzie. A two-phase approach to the project was determined and agreed to by the HFHSA, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) Archaeology Division, the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation, and the CAR. No Texas Antiquities Permit was required for the investigations. Phase 1 occurred in December 2017 and consisted of a series of backhoe trenches near the perimeter of the Hernández Family Cemetery (41BX542). Phase 1 focused on clearly delineating the exterior of the cemetery and determining the presence or absence of unmarked burials. A series of five backhoe trenches were excavated strategically along all four sides of the cemetery to test for unmarked burials beyond the current cemetery boundaries. These trenches exhibited no presence of unmarked graves, and CAR recommends the current boundary of the cemetery should be retained and that a buffer of no less than 6-15 m (2050 ft.) be maintained to preserve any encroachment upon or adverse impact to the cemetery. Further, CAR recommends that a Cemetery Preservation Plan be presented to the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation for review and commentary and that the Hernández Cemetery be designated a Historic Texas Cemetery through the THC. Phase 2 occurred in February 2018 and consisted of a general pedestrian survey and the excavation of 45 shovel tests in a grid pattern across the subject property. The survey was designed to meet the THC Archeological Survey Standards for Texas for a parcel of this size (1 shovel test per two acres; n=45). Only one shovel test (ST 32) of the 45 contained cultural material. The first of two historic farmstead sites on the subject property was identified based on ST 32 and an inspection of surface material. The first site was named the Jesus Hernández Farmstead and assigned trinomial 41BX2222. The second site was identified from surface finds, designated the Simon Rojo Rodriguez Farmstead, and was assigned trinomial 41BX2223. These two historic occupation sites span the period circa 1850 through circa 1940 based on the 36 diagnostic historic artifacts recovered from surface and sub-surface contexts within the project area. CAR recommends that no further investigations be required for either of the two identified historic farmstead sites. The poor condition of the sites, limited horizontal and vertical extent of their associated cultural deposits, and the relative ubiquity of similar more intact sites from this period within Bexar County suggest that neither site warrants further subsurface testing or mitigation. The thirty-eight (38) artifacts (36 historic and 2 prehistoric) recovered were prepared for curation according to THC guidelines and are permanently curated at CAR. All original field notes, archival documents, and the final report are permanently housed at CAR.