While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


LeRoy Johnson, Jr.

FRED YARBROUGH SITE. The Fred Yarbrough Site, in east central Van Zandt County, is located four miles northeast of Grand Saline in an area of rolling plains spotted with growths of hardwood trees. The site consists of two unconnected parts. Area A is a low knoll some fifty yards south of the Sabine River with stone artifacts on and in it, and Area B is a circular place in a plowed field with many prehistoric earthenware shards, 300 yards to the south of the knoll. Both areas were completely excavated by the Work Projects Administration from April through September of 1940. In the middle 1940s Alex D. Krieger examined the collection of artifacts, and in 1962 LeRoy Johnson, Jr., analyzed the specimens and published a lengthy study. Because the site had several stratified prehistoric Indian occupations, it became the key prehistoric pottery site of East Texas.

The knoll, Area A, is a natural rise ten feet above the Sabine floodplain capped with a zone of sandy soil three feet deep containing chipped-stone debris. In Area A several periods of occupation were mixed together, although there was also some stratigraphic separation. The earliest period, Paleo-Indian, is represented by a few lance-shaped flint and quartzite spear points of the Clovis, San Patrice, Meserve, and other types. Occupation from around 7000 B.C. by early Archaic Age people is evidenced by quartzite gouges or adzes, rounded and grooved net weights, and slightly barbed spear points of the Yantis type or other types.

Later Archaic Age people were at the site from 6000 to 2500 B.C. and left spear points with long rectangular tangs, among which the Morrill and Wells points were common, as well as sandstone grinding slabs and hand-held milling stones. The Yarbrough Site is the key representative of the early La Harpe Culture, which existed from 3000 or 2000 B.C. to the time of Christ. The sandy pottery, Gary points, and spear points with pointed tangs characteristic of late La Harpe Culture are also found at Area A. Finally, a few potsherds of still later pottery makers, dating to A.D. 1300 or 1400, were found on the knoll.

In the knoll was fair separation by depth of the early La Harpe spear points, which were most common in lower levels; the late La Harpe points, which dominated higher levels; and the potsherds, which were higher yet. The pre-La Harpe periods were recognized by resemblance of specific artifacts to related, well-dated specimens from other archeological sites. At the end of Archaic times, Area A was also used as a small cemetery.

Area B may have been a house site. The spot producing potsherds was about twenty feet in diameter and represents a much later group of people, whose cultural remains are called the Sanders Focus. The inhabitants practiced corn agriculture and were potters who made beakers, cups, large flat bowls, and deep bowls with shoulders below the rim. Deer ulnas made into punches or awls were almost the only other artifacts found in Area B besides the pottery, which may date to A.D. 800–1000. By this time the Indian population of the region had probably reached its peak. A few potsherds of even later pottery makers, dating to A.D. 1300 or 1400, were found on the knoll, Area A. The potters of both areas A and B were ancestors of the Caddo Indians who lived in East Texas in historic times directly east of what is now Van Zandt County. The artifacts and records of the Yarbrough Site are now housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory of the University of Texas at Austin.

LeRoy Johnson, Jr., The Yarbrough and Miller Sites of Northeastern Texas, with a Preliminary Definition of the La Harpe Aspect," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1962). Alex D. Krieger, Culture Complexes and Chronology in Northern Texas, with Extension of Puebloan Datings to the Mississippi Valley (University of Texas Publication 4640 [Austin, 1946]). Dee Ann Suhm et al., "An Introductory Handbook of Texas Archeology," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 25 (1954).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, LeRoy Johnson, Jr., "FRED YARBROUGH SITE," accessed April 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bbf03.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...