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Traces of French, Spanish, and Native American Lives

During a brief period in Texas history, first the French, then the Spanish, lived along the banks of Garcitas Creek, an area long frequented by the Karankawa Indians. Archeologists uncovered remnants of each of these cultures: traces of structures, more than 150,000 artifacts, and the skeletal remains of three French settlers.

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Skeletal Remains
Remains of what are believed to be three French settlers, shown following excavation. Image courtesy of Texas Historical Commission.

The fragmentary remains of three individuals were found co-mingled in a small pit at the Fort St. Louis site and were carefully excavated by archeologists from the Texas Historical Commission. Forensic anthropologist Gil King of North Texas State University, working with FBI forensic specialists, analyzed the bones, searching for clues about the identity of the individuals, what their lives had been like, and how they had died. King also weighed his findings against historic documents, particularly General Alonso De León's 1689 report describing the discovery of the bodies of three French settlers and the subsequent burial, as well as other records of the time.

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