Welcome to FLMA's Fourth Ward/Freedmenstown and
HISD Gregory-Lincoln/HSPVA Project Website
This basic website (no fancy HTML, no unnecessary plug-ins)
has been designed for ease of use and contains project documentation
as well as historical information about Houston's Fourth Ward.
In addition, this website contains the community outreach items
outlined in the joint Phase II research design developed by FLMA and Hicks
& Company, including regular project updates. We hope
that you will find this page a valuable resource about this unique
neighborhood and HISD's ongoing efforts to redevelop the area
in a historically aware and culturally respectful manner.
Suggestions are always welcome. Please direct these to Dr.
McGhee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to
download and view a pdf copy of FLMA's project brochure.
Superintendent's Advisory Committee Members
- Jew Don Boney
- Anthony Pizzitola
- George Parker
- Allen Ueckert
- Yvette Diaz
- Gladys M. House
- Rev. S.H. Smith
- Darrell Patterson
- Sylvia Brooks
- Willie E. Smith
- Ms. Jacqueline Beckham
General Background Information About Houston's
- Prof. Cary Wintz has written a good introductory description
of the neighborhood here
for the New Handbook of Texas.
- Prof. Wintz has also co-edited Black
Dixie: Afro-Texan History & Culture in Houston, a
- Prof. Robert D. Bullard, now of Clark-Atlanta University,
wrote an important book about Houston in the 1980's. Entitled
Houston, it still furnishes vital information about Fourth
Ward and Black Houston in general.
- The Texas
Historical Sites Atlas lists the official entry for the Freedmen's
Town Historic District into the National Register of Historic
- Community Advisory Committee member Gladys House has posted
a brief history of Freedmenstown on the Houston
- The same website has an excellent "Zine"
(comic book style community oriented publication) containing
a well written and drawn history of the neighborhood.
- Prof. Robert V. Haynes of Western Kentucky University has
written the standard account of the Houston
Race Riot of 1917. The worst riot in Houston's history, the
incidents that led up to it took place in Freedmenstown. According
to community leader Ms. Martha Whiting (a young girl at the time
the riot took place), "the shooting began" in Freedmenstown
at the corner of West Dallas (a.k.a. San Felipe St.) and Wilson
St near the Jewish cemetery.
- Although this book is available in most Texas libraries,
it is difficult to find elsewhere. As a public service, I have
posted a scan of Chapter
1 of the book online here. Please be aware that this "preview"
contains copyrighted material and is provided for non-commercial
purposes only. You can also get a used copy from Amazon.
- Several dissertations and M.A. theses discuss the history
and culture of Fourth Ward, as well as Afro-Texans at large.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a good springboard
for further investigation. You can order copies of these dissertations
- Sorelle, James M., 1980
"The Darker Side of Heaven: The Black Community in Houston,
Texas, 1917-1945." Ph.D. dissertation, Kent State University.
- McGhee, Fred Lee, 2000
"The Black Crop: Slavery and Slave Trading in Nineteenth
Century Texas." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas
- Passey, M. Louise, 1993
"Freedmantown: The Evolution of a Black Neighborhood in
Houston, 1865-1880." M.A. Thesis, Rice University
- Park, Phocion Samuel, 1971
"The Twenty-Fourth Infantry and Houston Riot of 1917."
M.A. Thesis, University of Houston
- Adams, Thomas Richard, 1972
"The Houston Riot of 1917." M.A. Thesis, Texas A&M
Buffalo Soldier Information
- Many people are still not aware that Houston has a Buffalo
Soldier Museum of high quality.
- Interested in joining a Yahoo forum about the Buffalo Soldiers?
This website defines itself as the "definitive
source of information" about the Buffalo Soldiers.
- May as well complete the domain name round-up. Here is another website with
information about the famous Black Soldiers.
- Where are the Buffalo Soldiers who served in Texas buried?
Many of them are buried at Alexandria
National Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana, especially the
Buffalo Soldiers who served in Brownsville. According to the
VA, "there are 57 Buffalo Soldiers interred at the Alexandria
National Cemetery. They represent the following units: 24th Infantry,
10th Calvary, and the 9th Calvary and are interred in Sections
A, B, C, and R." Stated more correctly, there are 57 confirmed
Buffalo Soldiers buried there. There are also many "unknown
soldiers" buried at that cemetery (at least 1,500) a majority
of whom are probably of African descent and were members of the
famed regiment. Prof. Antonio
Zavaleta of the University of Texas at Brownsville has written
a provocative paper about these unknowns.
- For some photographs of the final resting place of the 1537
"unknown" soldiers who served at Fort Brown, as well
as of Lt. Col. Francis Taylor, commander of Ft. Brown, click
photographs were taken by Dr. McGhee on June 2, 2005, at the
Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.
- There are also a significant number of United States Colored
Troops buried at the Baton
Rouge National Cemetery, although the number of soldiers
who may have served in Texas is unknown. Many of the burials
at this cemetery are of soldiers and sailors who fought to capture
Baton Rouge during the Civil War.
- Twenty-seven Buffalo soldiers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry
who served during the Indian Wars are interred in Section PE
Sam Houston National Cemetery. Their remains were initially
buried in the frontier forts where they were assigned, such as
Fort Clark, Fort McIntosh, and Fort Ringgold. As these frontier
posts were closed, the remains were disinterred and brought to
- Some recent archaeological excavations of the Pine Springs
Buffalo Soldier encampment have been conducted in West Texas
as part of a Buffalo
Soldiers Archaeology Project.
- The overall research design for the project, written by Dr.
McGhee can be downloaded here.
This is a large file.
- The Phase II research design instrument co-written by Rachel
Feit, M.A. of Hicks & Company and Dr. McGhee can be downloaded
- The project timeline can be downloaded here.
- Ms. Gladys House has graciously given permission to post
a brief video clip of her oral history interview on this website.
- Click here for
Ms. House's interview (file is 18 MB large, Quicktime required).
Project Update #1
Project archaeologists conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar
(GPR for short) survey over three of four portions of the project
area. The survey was conducted in rainy conditions between 13
and 15 July, 2005. Portions scanned included currently paved portions
on the western edge of the existing Gregory-Lincoln School (the
basketball court), the brick street portion of Andrews St. and
portions of the area along the western edge of Andrews St. along
the corner with Taft. Archaeologists also mechanically excavated
a trench over "soil boring #19" which a previous archaeological
company had indicated contained a small bone fragment and limited
historic artifacts. Click here
for a photograph of the trench, taken on 14 July. Despite the
difficult conditions, project archaeologists were able to deduce:
- There were no burials found, either by the radar or via excavation,
although the radar did identify subsurface utility lines
- Contrary to previous anecdotal and written opinion, Ground
Penetrating Radar does work in the clay-laden soil environment
- Most artifact deposits are shallow, well within one meter
of the surface
Project Update #2
A review draft of the GPR survey has been completed. Click
here for a pdf copy
of the draft, along with a transmittal letter from Rachel
Feit of Hicks & Company to the Texas Historical Commission,
archaeologically describing the two trenches unearthed in conjunction
with the remote sensing sweep. J.K. Wagner and company have also
finished their archival research for the site. Due to size constraints,
the file reproduced
here contains only section one of the archival analysis, although
that section contains a summary of findings and interpretations.
A full hardcopy of the study, as well as CD copies will be made
available in the future.
Project Update #3
Archaeologists have begun excavation. Hurricane Rita interrupted
project activities during the week of 19 September, but significant
progress has been made thus far.
- Over fifteen gradall trenches have been dug throughout the
project site (more to follow), and a field crew of ten archaeologists
has begun manual digging, to continue to the end of the month.
To date no human remains have been found
- KUHF Houston Public Radio conducted an interview with Dr.
McGhee on Tuesday
4 October, 2005 (click on the "Fourth Ward Dig Moves
Into New Phase" link) in which listeners were given an idea
of some of the artifacts uncovered thus far.
- HISD students,
University of Houston students, and project volunteers have been
participating in the dig
- Sample artifacts
include nails, bricks, bottles, pieces of shoes, pipes, toothbrushes,
cut animal bone, ceramics, and various other forms of historic
debitage. Almost all of the artifacts have been found at shallow
depths. Culturally sterile soil (soil where there are no more
artifacts) usually begins at about 70 centimeters beneath the
surface, at deepest.
- A future town hall meeting, open to the public, will be scheduled
for the future in which archaeologsts will brief preliminary