In the past, archaeological research in eastern North Carolina and Virginia has tended to concentrate on bits and pieces of history, telling only parts of the whole story. Seldom has an effort been made to connect the information gleaned from the ground, revealing a picture of Indian life in the past, with groups of Indian people in the state today. Often this is because of the uncertainty of the actual tribal origins of many of the Indian groups presently living in North Carolina. The Meherrin of Hertford and Bertie counties, for example, are almost certainly a mixture of Nottoway, Chowan, and Coastal Algonquin, as well as Meherrin, ancestry. In many cases, archaeologists have not been aware of the existence of Indian descendants in the areas where archaeological work has been done, or have not taken the time to investigate whether or not a connection exists between the living Indians and the sites being studied.
In 1983, when the Research Laboratories of Anthropology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began work at the Occaneechi village on the banks of the Eno River near Hillsborough, North Carolina, archaeologists were not aware that there might still be descendants of these villagers living in the area. Yet, within 15 miles of the site are two distinct communities of Indian descendants, both of which conceivably could have had connections with the Occaneechi village. Over the past six years the author has made an in-depth study of the history of one, the Texas community, and a cursory examination of the other, the Burnette's Chapel community. This is a summary of the information dealing with the Texas community (more commonly known as Pleasant Grove). This information strongly suggests that these families were Saponi who did not die off or wander away into oblivion, but who remained in their old homelands. Gradually, they were deprived of their lands and, ultimately, were deprived of their very identity as Indian people.
The story of the Texas community is more or less complete. It is an instance where the Indian people living today in Orange and Alamance counties can learn something about how their ancestors lived and take renewed pride in their sense of history. Archaeology here has an opportunity to make the past relevant to the present in a way which is often not possible.
The Texas community is located in the rolling farmland of northeastern Alamance County, in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina. Most of it is contained in Pleasant Grove Township, but it also spills over into adjacent parts of Caswell and Orange counties. It is more commonly known today as Pleasant Grove community. The "Texas" name is of unknown origin; however, it is known to date at least as far back as the 1890s. William Spoon's 1893 map of Alamance County labels a road in the northern section of Pleasant Grove Township as "The Texas Road," and labels the section below it "Texas." This name also occurs on Spoon, Lewis, and Camp's 1928 map of Alamance County, although "Texas Road" is used to identify a different road in the same area. Folk etiology gives two reasons for the name: (1) it was called Texas because the appearance of the people living there resembled that of Indians or Mexicans; and (2) the section was a rough place, like the "wild west," and so it was called Texas. Research has not revealed any other clear or definitive reasons for the name.
Excavating Occaneechi Town: Archaeology of an Eighteenth-Century Indian Village in North Carolina by R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr., Patrick Livingood, H. Trawick Ward, and Vincas Steponaitis. Web edition © 1998, 2003 by the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.