TxDOT FM 455 Expansion... AmaTerra searching for historical artifacts at Bolivar 4-way stop

September 26, 2019

Sara Parkin of AmaTerra Environmental screens dirt material where the Sarkin Hotel once stood, from the mid 1800’s.  Workers in the background document the duck pond and spring water well that was in the foyer of the hotel, according to property records.   The company has been working in Bolivar at the corner of FM 455 and FM 2450 since August 28.  

 

AmaTerra Environmental has been working since August 28  near the 4-way stop in Bolivar at FM 455 and 2450, searching for historical artifacts.  TxDOT is expanding FM 455 from Bolivar to Marion Road. It is well documented, the historical significance, even a historical maker stands nearby in Bolivar. Amaterra needs to document any historical findings before the property is covered from the widening of FM 455.  During the 1800’s. Bolivar was the westernmost fort in Denton County and the first settlement west of Collin County. Two stagecoach lines changed horses in Bolivar. The town thrived and could count three hotels, several stores, a gin, flour mill, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, a church and a school.  

“It was here, that the Texas Cattle Trail joined the Jesse Chisholm Trail, but it was John Chisum, a Texas cattle baron, who had herds here and furnished beef to the Confederacy during the civil war.  Bolivar and the surrounding area were havens for Sam Bass and his men.  Two Bolivar men were jailed in 1890 for harboring notorious marauders.”

“Named indirectly for Simon Bolivar, South American Statesman, general and patriot, it might have been called ‘New Prospect’, but for a mug of rum.  When the town was founded in 1852, a man who settled here from Bolivar, Tennessee, wanted to name the community in honor of his hometown.  But a preacher-doctor insisted that it be named ‘New Prospect’. An election was called to settle the matter and the Tennessean exchanged mugs of rum for votes, Bolivar won,” it reads on the marker. 

Reba Marshall’s family lived on property in the 1920’s and two small houses that were torn down in the 1950’s peaked AmaTerra Environmentalist’s interest.  Also, one of the hotels from the early years of the town are on that land.  It was called the Sartin Hotel, owned by Jesse Sartin in the 1860’s.   This land is located on the north side of FM 455.  Amaterra has found the foundation blocks of the two houses.  They found the hotel foundation and a duck pond and flowing well from the foyer. Amaterra has uncovered the stones, mostly intact. Property records confirmed the old spring in the foyer.  

“This is regionally important, since the hotel was here since the mid 1800’s,” said Sara Parkin, of AmaTerra.  She’s is pictured screening dirt material on Monday afternoon.  They have found glass, nails and more and have them separated in four (blue) buckets.  She said phase-2 should be completed by this week and the company is going to request a phase 3 in the near future.  Phase-3 would allow them to dig deeper and do a more thorough search of the hotel area.  

Contrary to some rumors, there isn’t an old cemetery.  They did find a bone, but it was a dog bone.  

On the south side of FM 455 was an old filling station from the 1930’s. That is currently on Craig and Christine Waggoner’s property.  Amaterra has screened the dirt of that area but are not recommending further testing.  They found some artifacts, but nothing with historical significance.  

Bolivar dried up when the railroad tried to come through Bolivar, but the town opposed it and it was build four miles east and that created the town of Sanger.  

Sanger was founded in 1886 as a stop on the Santa Fe Railroad. Cattle from the ranches of north Denton County had been driven up the old cattle trails through the site of Sanger to northern markets. The cattle industry of the prairies of north Denton County contributed to the founding of the town, and wheat-growing contributed substantially to its economy. Sanger was named by the Santa Fe in honor of one of its customers, the Sanger family, who owned stores in Waco and Dallas.       The town was laid out on land owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Huling. Lots were sold. The F. M. Ready family, the first to settle in Sanger, came in October 1887, the same year as the first engine and caboose.

Parkin hopes TxDOT approves the  phase-3 request. After the completion of their search, the documentation and findings will be fowarded to the to Denton Historical Society, and available to the public to view.  Parkin is enthusiastic about the work AmaTerra is doing and she is very informed about this dig site.  “A lot of people have stopped by and are curious about what we are doing,” Parkin added.  

AmaTerra Environmental, Inc. is an award-winning, environmental consulting firm headquartered  in Austin, Texas.  The firm is federally certified as an economically-disadvantaged, woman-owned small business (EDWOSB), among other Federal, State, and Local certifications.  The staff of respected environmental professionals provides a variety of environmental coordination and compliance-related services covering a wide range of disciplines -Terrestrial Archaeology, Historic Resources, Compliance, Biological Resources, NEPA, Wetlands, Marine Archaeology, GIS, Geophysical/Remote Sensing. Clients include Federal, State, and Local governments, as well as Private Industry clients across the United States.

NOTE: Parkin requested to the Sanger News that no close-up pictures of their findings be published in a publication until the dig is complete. 

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