Shoal Creek Marks the Spot For New Undertold Marker
September 6, 2016 | By Shoal Creek Conservancy
AUSTIN, TEXAS- Shoal Creek Conservancy (SCC) has been selected to receive an Undertold Marker from the Texas Historical Commission (THC) for the Wood Street Settlement. The marker will be located along the Shoal Creek trail just north of the 6th Street bridge. The Marker Program seeks to address historical gaps through markers that represent untold aspects of Texas history. According to Historic Bridges Chair, Charles Peveto, the Undertold Marker symbolizes a significant piece of Austin’s history as well as three years of team efforts.
The Wood Street Historic Settlement is a significant, yet all but forgotten, treasure located right in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas. The settlement was a community where rural ex-slaves made their homes in Austin after the end of the Civil War. Austin’s freedmen communities were essentially “unplatted, unincorporated” residential neighborhoods where many black landowners settled after the promises of “40 acres and a mule” were proven hollow.
The Wood Street settlement is a unusual remnant of a small minority neighborhood where many freedmen and later, working class Mexican American families built their lives in the early 20th century. It is located on the west bank of Shoal Creek off of Wood Street near the intersection of Lamar Boulevard and West 6th Street. The location of this settlement is unique because of its adjacency to the more affluent Anglo neighborhoods near downtown Austin. The driving force behind the Undertold Marker was to preserve the landmark and educate the public about this important and relatively unknown piece of Texas history.
Working alongside Peveto throughout the application process were community member Mitchell McGovern, Preservation Planner and Cultural Resource Specialist for the Parks and Recreation Department Kim McKnight, Executive Director of SCC Joanna Wolaver, and SCC intern Shelby Acosta. Over the past three years, the team researched the history behind the Settlement and helped Peveto pull the application together.
“This has been a three-year process and truly a group effort” says Peveto. “This was our third try for the application.”
The Settlement is one of 15 markers selected by the THC this year. Peveto says the next step is to develop a narrative and placement for the marker. Plans for an Undertold Marker unveiling reception are currently in the works, so stay tuned!