Frio Indian Village

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Attached is a story about a lost Indian village found by students of Pearsall High School in 1964. The Thompson ranch is now owned by Gary Boyd of Pearsall and I understand he lives in the Thompson ranch house south of Derby. I thought this story would be interesting for any one interested in Frio County History.

Scott Wyatt, Austin, Texas

Frio Indian Village By Scott Wyatt Pearsall HS Class of 1965 During my high school years in the early 1960ís, football coach Charles Whatley announced to our math class that he intended with our help to find an Indian village on the Frio River. He then held up a large book about Texas Indians and read to the class a description of how there were many of abandoned Indian villages on the rivers of south Texas, including the Frio River.

I agreed to ask permission from my cousin, who owned a ranch on the Frio River, for our class to search his land for an Indian village. Jim Thompson and his wife Marge owned the ranch.

Although my home was in Pearsall, I had practically lived at the ranch every summer. The Thompson ranch was located between Dilley and Pearsall, south of Derby and was bordered on the south by several miles of the Frio River.

The next day, it was agreed that the class would meet on Saturday morning and car pool to the ranch. Only four students showed up and they were all football players. After introductions at the ranch, Jim told coach Whatley he had lived on the ranch since the 1930’s and was not aware of any evidence that Indians had once lived there. He did state that whatever the class found, they could keep and share with the rest of the students.

As we traveled through the brushy pastures toward the river, we passed mesquite and cactus thickets that were as high as the truck. I could tell Coach was getting worried that the tall brush might limit our search. However, as we cleared low rocky bluffs overlooking the river, the entire river bottom had been recently cleared. All the trees had been stacked in great piles and burned. You could also see great ruts in the soil where large plows pulled by bulldozers had removed roots and stumps dragging up to the surface any thing that might have been buried by river floods over the years. To the south lay the river hidden by a large canopy of trees. To the north lay a network of low hills consisting of flint rocks.

Coach became excited about the possibility of walking the entire river area. However, his students including me did not share his excitement since there appeared to be miles of cleared land that would have to be searched. Then Coach had an idea; he would climb the nearest hill and look down over the river basin to locate the best spot for a possible village. The village would have been situated on the highest point nearest the river to avoid floods and yet near enough to low hills for the villagers to flee any rising water.

Soon Coach came down and announced he had located the village and pointed to the highest point of land next to the river. We drove near the area and began to walk toward the spot and immediately one of the students shouted he had located an Indian arrow point in the soft soil. Then I found several broken pieces of flint that appeared to have been shaped into some type of crude stone tools. Coach then shouted for all of us to hurry to the highest point and to our amazement were not just hundreds of flint chips covering the ground, but thousands of these small pieces of rock. Most were situated in circular areas approximately ten feet across as if they had been left there as an outline of the round shaped dwellings or huts.

While everyone found a variety of Indian made flint pieces such as arrow points, stone tools, and spear points, the majority of the rocks found were either broken in half or in most cases just large unfinished pieces of flint rock. Coach said we should come back the next week and bring shovels to dig up the area.

As we were about to leave, Coach Whately said he wanted to climb the nearest flint hill and look out over the river bottom one more time. He was not gone but a few minutes and we heard a whoop and off we went running up the hill. Standing like a modern day explorer, Coach Whatley was holding a large flint spear point, approximately five inches long and perfectly formed. Coach then explained since this was the highest hill near the village; it was probably an area where the Indians buried their dead along with flint objects such as spear and arrow points.

The next weekend, I was the only student to make the return trip to the ranch. Coach selected several areas to dig and within six inches of the surface we found not only more flint pieces, but also several red sand stone rocks used by the Indians to paint their skin. Then the best of all was found, several pieces of broken clay pottery proving Indians had lived there, possibly for hundreds of years.

The next year, I left for college. I did visit the ranch several years later and was unable to find the village, as the land was now completely overgrown with mesquite trees and brush. Since it has been over 40 years since the class first discovered the village, the entire village is again lost to a land of thick trees, heavy underbrush, and the floodwaters of the Frio River.

The proof I have of the village is that I still have the flint rock tools, arrow points, and spear points, including the red paint rocks. The pieces of pottery have long since deteriorated and have turned to dust. These are my only physical reminders of a football coach’s determination to find an Indian Village in Frio County.

TXGenWeb, Frio County - Frio Indian Village updated on 08/10/2005

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