||In April 2007, I joined archaeologists from the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in preservation efforts at the Bull Hill Cemetery in Marlin, Falls County, Texas. Fieldwork at the cemetery enhanced local knowledge of slavery and Emancipation in Falls County. Archival and oral history research determined that the cemetery possibly dated to the early 1830s and was used by enslaved blacks residing on several plantations located along the Brazos River. Oral history interviews with local black descendant community members also revealed a shared memory of substantial black land and business ownership that immediately followed the years of Emancipation and extended until the early twentieth century.
This paper will demonstrate how the memories shared with us during the preservation of the Bull Hill Cemetery reflected past hegemonic dominance in Marlin and a need for blacks to carve out multiple places of visibility, resistance and ownership within the city’s larger physical and social landscape. It will also highlight the significance of race in the marginalization of black cemeteries in Texas.
This paper will also show how landscapes and memories are contested and subjected to appropriations and imbalances in power. As landscape archaeology can highlight the multivocality of place and space, this paper will convey how work at the Bull Hill Cemetery further contributed to efforts to record and commemorate blacks’ attempts to achieve visibility and equality in Marlin, Texas.