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HARRIS COUNTY

KARANKAWA INDIANS

In the coastal area along Chambers County, to the East of Harris County, running on along Galveston County, to the South of Harris County, Brazoria County to the Southeast of Harris County and on down the Gulf Coast toward Corpus Christi there existed a group of indians called the Karankawas. The Karankawa Indians were a group of Indian Tribes that lived along the Texas Coast. By 1860, at the start of the American Civil War, the Karankawa had been completely exterminated. The Karankawas had camp sites along the lagoons and bays along this Texas Gulf Coast area, which undoubtedly included areas of Harris County, as well. This bays were mostly smooth and the water was shallow, which waters enabled the Karankawas to go out into the pools and in the clear, slowly ebbing water take the fish and oysters and other marine life for food.

The Handbook of Texas includes the following information: [citation Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "HARRIS COUNTY," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/HH/hch7.html]

Archeological sites in Harris County reveal the presence of human beings 6,000 years ago. The oldest contains a previously undisturbed deposit of bone remains and dart points dating from 4000 to 1000 B.C. A site on Clear Lake features a shell midden and cemetery with early ceramics dating between 1400 B.C. and A.D. 950. Other sites in the western area and along Galveston Bay have yielded pottery, stone tools, and points from 2,000 years ago. Many shell middens along the bayshore and brackish streams were destroyed in the nineteenth century when residents used the convenient shell heaps for construction. Although Spain claimed the Texas Gulf Coast, few Europeans visited the future Harris County between 1528 and 1821. It is possible that Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vacaqv ascended the San Jacinto River from Galveston Island about 1529 to trade with the woodland Indians, but his adventures failed to stimulate interest in the Texas coast. A few French traders from Louisiana visited Indians living on Spring Creek between the 1730s and 1745, but made no settlement. A Spanish mission and presidio complex, El Orcoquisac,qv was maintained near the mouth of the Trinity from 1756 to 1771 to monitor and oppose the intrusion of foreigners. In 1746 Capt. Joaquín de Orobio y Basterra from La Bahíaqv visited the Orcoquisac villages along Spring Creek while looking for French traders. He reported the lack of roads or maps and on his return blazed a trail westward to find the Old San Antonio Road,qv on which he had traveled to Nacogdoches on his way to the lower Trinity and San Jacinto rivers. The first Anglo-Americans to explore Harris County were members of the various filibustering expeditions launched from New Orleans between 1815 and 1820 to aid the Mexican Republicans rebelling against Spain. Using Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsular as a base, the men belonging to the expeditions and encampments of Louis Michel Aury, Francisco Xavier Mina, Jean Laffite, and James Longqqv looked around the San Jacinto estuary for future homesites, their expected reward for freeing Mexico from Spain. Some of these men were among the pioneer settlers arriving by boat from Louisiana in early 1822, just after the Mexican War of Independence.