The Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead:  Investigating the Late Nineteenth-Century African American Experience in Central Texas

In the summer of 2009, Prewitt and Associates archeologists conducted extensive data recovery excavations at the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead (41TV1051) in southern Travis County for the Texas Department of Transportation. The site, which will ultimately be impacted by the construction of State Highway 45, was occupied by an African American family—Ransom, his wife Sarah, and several children—from 1871 to about 1905. The archeological features and material culture associated with their tenure on the land are quite impressive, and history of this place and the people who lived there is strengthened by extensive archival and oral history research.

The project is a collaborative effort organized as a community-based historic archeological study. It has four integrated aspects:

As of July 2012, the data analysis and reporting are still in progress. The work promises to yield new insights into the lives of former slaves and how they adapted to the post-emancipation social realities in a white-dominated world. The community outreach has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire project. The Williams site was featured in the "Juneteenth Jamboree 2010" television program produced by KLRU, the public television station serving the central Texas area. The hour-long program aired on Thursday, June 17, 2010, and featured about 30 minutes on the archeology, history, and oral history of the Williams Farmstead and the nearby freedmen community called Antioch Colony. The program can be viewed online at the KRLU website: http://www.klru.org/juneteenth/video/once-upon-a-time-ransom-williams-crossed-state-highway-45-southwest/

 

Mr. LeeDell Bunton, a descendant of the Antioch Colony Buntons and a relative of Ransom Williams, holds an artifact found at the site. It is a letter "R" broken off of a branding iron. On April 4, 1872, Ransom Williams registered the letters "RA" with the Travis County Brand Registry, and the entry had a notation that this was his "horse brand."

 

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