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Credits & Sources

The Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead exhibit was written by Doug Boyd and Aaron Norment (Prewitt and Associates, Inc.), Maria Franklin (Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin), Terri Myers (Preservation Central, Inc., Austin), and Nedra Lee (PAI and Department of Anthropology, UT-Austin).

TBH Editor Susan Dial and Assistant Editor Heather Smith designed and developed the exhibit for the web, with assistance of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (LAITS) at UT-Austin. TBH Education Advisors Carol Schlenk and Laine Liebick created the teachers' curricula and student activities. Special thanks to Trudy Williams who contributed countless hours proofreading and testing the exhibit.

The regional and site maps were created by PAI graphics supervisor Sandy Hannum, and Brian Wootan created the compilation artifact figures using photographs taken by Jennifer McWilliams. The three paintings that depict the historic lifeways of the Williams family on their farm are by Austin artist and retired archeologist Frank Weir.

The audio clips used in this exhibit are from the Williams Farmstead Oral History Collection, now housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The video clips are from two different sources. Some are footage taken by KLRU-television in Austin for their Juneteenth Jamboree 2010 and used courtesy of producer Michael Emery, while others are footage taken by LAITS and used courtesy of Daniel Garza. The Briscoe Center also provided digital images of period African-American newspapers for use in the Newspapers section of this exhibit.

The project was sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation. Additional funding for the exhibit was provided by the Travis County Historical Commission, Travis County, the Texas Archeological Society, the Council of Texas Archeologists, the Travis County Archeological Society, and the Friends of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory.

The many groups and individuals that contributed to the project and this exhibit are recognized below.

Prewitt and Associates, Inc.

As one of the firms that contracts with TxDOT to provide cultural resources services around the state, PAI took the lead role in the historic archeological investigations at the Williams Farmstead from 2007 through 2013. Doug Boyd served as the project manager and principal investigator, and the project archeologists were Aaron Norment and Jennifer McWilliams.

Boyd was raised in the small town of Tulia in the Texas Panhandle. He attended West Texas State University and later earned his Masters degree at Texas A&M. Since 1987 he has been a consulting archeologist for the Austin-based firm Prewitt and Associates, Inc., where he is now Vice President.

Norment is a staff archeologist at Prewitt and Associates, and much of his work focuses on historic archeology. Since the beginning of the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead project, he was involved in project planning and execution, from field work to laboratory analysis and report writing. Norment received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and his M.A. in Anthropology from Texas Tech University.

Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Maria Franklin served as an archeological consultant and directed the oral history component of the Williams Farmstead Archeological Project. Franklin is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, with a joint appointment in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department. She is also affiliated with UT’s John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Franklin joined the Williams Farmstead Archeological Project in 2008, and her involvement is the primary reason the descendant community outreach was such an outstanding success.

Nedra Lee was a PAI employee on the field crew for the 2009 data recovery, and she assisted in the subsequent artifact analysis and did the archival research examining African American newspapers published in Austin in the late nineteenth century. In addition, Lee is a graduate student in UT’s Anthropology Department, and her dissertation research (directed by Dr. Franklin and completed as of 2014) involves looking at the Williams Farmstead material culture to examine race, space, and identity in the rural Bear Creek community where the farm was located.

Preservation Central, Inc.

Terri Myers operates Preservation Central, Inc. in Austin, providing a wide range of services, such as archival research, National Register nominations, preservation planning, and historic resources surveys. She served as the project historian and conducted archival research intermittently for Prewitt and Associates from 2005 through 2013. Following even the most elusive historical leads, she made many wonderful discoveries that changed the direction and tone of the research. Because of Myers’ meticulous research, the story of the Williams family is rich and comprehensive.

Texas Department of Transportation

The Williams Farmstead Archeological Project was funded by the Texas Department of Transportation, and overseen by the Archeological Studies Program of the Environmental Affairs Division in Austin. Dr. Scott Pletka is the program director, and Jon Budd is the staff archeologist who served as project manager for all the phases of work at the Williams Farmstead. They both took an active role in managing what turned out to be a long and complex archeological project.

Manchaca-Onion Creek Historical Association

Once they found out about the Williams Farmstead project, members of the  Manchaca-Onion Creek Historical Association took an active interest our research, visiting both the archeological site and the PAI laboratory. In particular, Marilyn Dunnahoo McLeod has a deep connection to the site, and she had heard of Ransom Williams. As it turns out, her great-grandfather Daniel Labenski was Ransom Williams’ neighbor from the 1870s to the turn-of-the century. McLeod shared all of her family genealogy and research files with PAI, and this information proved to be quite helpful in many ways.

Descendant Community

The oral history research, organized and directed by Dr. Franklin, was an integral part of the Williams Farmstead Archeological Project. While Dr. Franklin and PAI certainly played a big role in this effort, the real contribution to the project is the 46 hours of audiotaped stories generously donated by the 27 people who agreed to be interviewed. All of these people had a vested interest in the project, and they believed that their stories—and the history we were seeking to document—were important.

Since the publication of the oral history narratives in 2012, no one can deny that these interviews contain valuable historical perspectives and details not found in any other sources. All but two of the interviewees are African Americans who are members of the descendant community, and these people share a common heritage and bond with the Williams family of the late nineteenth century. All of these people deserve a big “Thank You” for their contributions! On a sad note, three of these people passed away before the oral history report was completed in March 2012, so they did not get to see the fruits of their labor.

Photo of Principal Investigator Doug Boyd
Principal Investigator Doug Boyd
Photo of Project Archeologists Aaron Norment and Jennifer McWilliams
Project Archeologists Aaron Norment and Jennifer McWilliams
Photo of Prewitt graphics designers Sandy Hannum and Brian Wootan
Prewitt graphics designers Sandy Hannum and Brian Wootan
Photo of Dr. Maria Franklin and Nedra Lee, archeologists from the University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Maria Franklin and Nedra Lee, archeologists from the University of Texas at Austin
Photo of Historian Terri Myers with a member of the Manchaca-Onion Creek Historical Association
Historian Terri Myers with a member of the Manchaca-Onion Creek Historical Association
Photo of Artist Frank Weir
Artist Frank Weir holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington State University and headed up the archeology program at the Texas Department of Transportation for over 25 years.
Photo of members of the descendant community, shown at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin
Members of the descendant community, shown at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin, where the oral history publication for the project was unveiled. The individuals who contributed oral history interviews for the Williams Farmstead Archeological Project are listed below, and the asterisks denote the use of people's audio or video clips in this exhibit:. Photo by Laura Arizmendi.


Jewel (Williams) Andrews Austin, Texas
Annie (Dotson) Axel Austin, Texas
Estelle (Hargis) Black Austin, Texas
Earlee Bunton Austin, Texas
LeeDell Bunton, Sr. Phoenix, Arizona
Lee Wildon Dawson Lockhart, Texas
Joanne Deane Manchaca, Texas
Cedel (Sorrells) Evans Cedar Park, Texas
Ruth (Harper) Fears Buda, Texas
Lillie Grant Austin, Texas
Moses Ollie Joe Harper, Sr. Austin, Texas
Samuel Harper Buda, Texas
Corrine (Williams) Harris Austin, Texas
Earselean (Sorrells) Hollins Austin, Texas
Lourice (Williams) Johnson Austin, Texas
Joan Nell (Revada) Limuel Buda, Texas
Lillie (Meredith) Moreland Manchaca, Texas
Winnie (Harper) Moyer Buda, Texas
Minnie (Harper) Nelson Buda, Texas
Robbie (Dotson) Overton Austin, Texas
Marcus Leon Pickard, Jr. Dallas, Texas
Rene Pickard Menard, Texas
Kay (Hollins) Randall Austin, Texas
Floris Lean Sorrells Austin, Texas
Essie Mae (Owens) Sorrells Austin, Texas
Anthy Lee (Revada) Walker San Antonio, Texas
Marian (Harper) Washington Buda, Texas


The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin is working with Prewitt and Associates, TxDOT and UT-Austin on plans for a museum exhibit highlighting the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead project. In conjunction with this effort, the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University did the conservation on many of the most significant artifacts recovered from the Williams Farmstead. Arianna Dimucci did this work under the direction of project manager Jim Jobling.

Print Sources

Beaudry, Mary
2001   Trying to Think Progressively about 19th-Century Farms. Northeast Historical Archeology 30-31:129-142.

Blake, Marie E., and Terri Myers
1999   After Slavery: The Rubin Hancock Farmstead, 1880–1916, Travis County, Texas. Reports of Investigations No. 124, Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin, and Archeological Studies Program Report 19, Texas Department of Transportation, Austin.

Boyd, Douglas K.
2012   Research Site is One of Texas’ Best-Preserved African American Farmsteads. The Medallion 50(4):4–5 (Fall 2012). Texas Historical Commission. Download pdf Download pdf

Boyd, Douglas K., Maria Franklin, and Terri Myers
2011   From Slave to Landowner: Historic Archeology at the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead. Current Archeology in Texas 13(1):8–15 (April 2011). Download pdf Download pdf

Boyd, Douglas K., Aaron R. Norment, Terri Myers, Maria Franklin, Nedra Lee, Leslie L. Bush, and Brian S. Shaffer
2014   The Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead: Post-Emancipation Transitions of an African American Family in Central Texas.  Reports of Investigations No. 173. Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin, and Archeological Studies Program Report No. 165, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, Austin. View an electronic copy of the report.

Campbell, Randolph
1989   An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821–1865. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge.

Fessler, Garrett
2010   Excavating the Spaces and Interpreting the Places of Enslaved Africans and their Descendants. In Cabin, Quarter, Plantation: Architecture and Landscapes of North American Slavery, edited by Clifton Ellis and Rebecca Ginsburg, pp. 27–49. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.

Franklin, Maria
2012   I’m Proud to Know What I Know: Oral Narratives of Travis and Hays Counties, Texas, ca. 1920s–1960s. Reports of Investigations No. 165, Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Austin and Archeological Studies Program Report No. 136, Environmental Affairs Division, Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas. Link to electronic document

Gilbert, Charlotte and Quinn Eli
2000   Homecoming: The Story of African American Farmers. Beacon Hill Press, Boston.

Granger, G.
1865   Granger’s Proclamation Abolishing Slavery in Texas, June 19, 1865. Document No. 87 in Documents of Texas History, edited by Ernest Wallace, David M. Vigness, and George B. Ward, p. 201. State House Press, Austin, Texas, 1994.

Photo of the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin
The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin plans a full exhibit on the Ransom and Sarah Williams Farmstead.
Cover of report on the farmstead by Prewitt and Associates, Inc. See information on how to download an electronic copy of the final report
Image of the Cover of the two-volume oral history by Dr. Maria Franklin.
Cover of the two-volume oral history by Dr. Maria Franklin

Grose, Charles William
1972    Black Newspapers in Texas, 1868-1970. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin.

Haney, Lewis H. and George S. Wehrein (editors)
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2000   "The Little Spots Allow'd Them": The Archaeological Study of African-American Yards. Historical Archaeology 34(2):38–55.

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Joseph, J. W.
2011   All of Cross—African Potters, Marks, and Meanings of Folk Pottery in Edgefield District South Carolina. In thematic volume Crosses to Bear: Cross Marks as African Symbols in Southern Pottery edited by Charles R. Ewen, Historical Archaeology 45(2): 134-155.

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Kyriakoudes, Louis, M.
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Lee, Nedra K.
2014   Freedom’s Paradox: Negotiating Race and Class in Jim Crow Texas. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin.

Leone, Mark P. and Gadys-Marie Fry
1997   Conjuring in the Big House Kitchen: An Interpretation of African American Belief Systems Based on the Uses of Archaeology and Folklore Sources. The Journal of American Folklore 112 (445): 372-403.

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2005   The Archaeology of Black Americans in Recent Times. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 575–98.

Mears, Michelle M.
2009   And Grace Will Lead Me Home: African American Freedmen Communities of Austin, Texas 1865–1928. Texas Tech University Press.

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Sears, Roebuck, and Company
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1902b   1902 Sears Roebuck Catalogue No. 112. Unabridged 2002 reprint by Princeton Imaging, New Jersey. Electronic document,

1908   1908 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue: A Treasured Replica for the Archives of History, edited by Joseph J. Schroeder, Jr. 1971 reprint by Digest Books, Inc., Northfield, Illinois.

Schweniger, Loren
1997   Black Property Owners in the South, 1790-1915. University of Illinois Press, Champaign.

Sitton, Thad, and James H. Conrad
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South, Stanley
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1979   A Historical Guide to Wagon Hardware & Blacksmith Supplies. Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton, Oklahoma.

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1983   The Black Press in the South, 1865-1979. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

Wade, Melvin
1984   ‘Justin’ to the Change”: Traditional Agricultural Practices Among Freed Black Farmers in East Texas, 1865–1900. In Texana II: Cultural Heritage of the Plantation South (revised second edition), edited by Candace Volz, pp. 35–41. Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Wahlberg, Molly
2010   Digging up the Past, Close to Home: Artifacts, descendants tell story of freed slaves in Texas. Life and Letters: College of Liberal Arts Magazine Fall 2010. University of Texas at Austin. Download pdf Download pdf

Westmacott, Richard
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Wilkie, Laurie A.
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Once Upon a Time Ransom Williams Crossed State Highway 45
A 28-minute segment on Juneteenth Jamboree 2010 produced by Michael Emery for KLRU-Television, Austin, Texas.

The Rubin Hancock Farmstead
TBH exhibit on excavations at an 1870s farmstead established in north Austin by emancipated African-Americans.

Hendrick and Ware Plantations
TBH exhibit on two 19th-century plantations in Rusk County in northeast Texas that tells the story of the plantation families and the enslaved African Americans who lived and worked there during the Civil War era.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
This website from The New York Public Library contains excellent educational resources, lessons and timelines.

TheTexas Runaway Slave Project
Stephen F. Austin University's online database of runaway slave advertisements, articles and notices from newspapers published in Texas, documenting the names of over 400 individual runaway slaves.

Digital Library of American Slavery
A searchable database of information regarding persons and subjects involved in the whole system of slavery, including slaves, slaveholders, and free persons of color in the United States from 1775 to 1867, published by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Race and Slavery Petitions Project.

History of Austin’s Racial Divide in maps
An online section of the Austin American Statesman tracing the city's history of segregation from the late 1800s through the1960s. Included is the video, Austin Revealed: Civil Rights Stories.