Digging into College Station’s past at Carter Park

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By Ben Gracia, Heritage Programs Intern

College Station has an abundance of beautiful parks with playgrounds, athletic fields, and other amenities. Some also have interesting historical aspects, but one has particular significance for local history buffs.

Longtime residents probably know the story of Richard Carter, and some may even recall the 1986 dedication of Richard Carter Park on Brazoswood Drive near his original homestead.

IMG_4267Who was Richard Carter?

A veteran of the War of 1812, Carter is regarded as the first white settler in the area now known as College Station. He acquired 4,428 acres through a land grant in the Stephen F. Austin’s Colony in 1831 and soon became one of Brazos County’s wealthiest landowners. He died in 1863 at the age of 74.

The Carter homestead was known to be near Carter Creek, but little remained a century after his death. In the early 1980s, the City of College Station asked researchers from Texas A&M to determine the exact location of the home site and preserve what remained. They dug trenches and found bits of glass and metal that revealed how the home was constructed and provided details about the Carter family’s daily lives.

The researchers also found pieces of the wrought-iron fence that originally surrounded the family cemetery, which had been vandalized in the 1960s. The poor condition of the cemetery later led Carter’s descendants to ask the city to relocate the graves to the new park. Photographs taken by Parks & Recreation staff documented the process of excavating and relocating the graves.

Project HOLD

Archeological reports, photographs, documents, and news reports about the study of the home site, the relocation of the family remains, and the development of the park can be viewed online at Project HOLD, the city’s digital archive. Simply click these folders: City > City of College Station > City History > Richard Carter Homesite.

If you have time, explore Project HOLD’s many other important images and documents to discover more about Bryan-College Station’s rich history. If you have items you’d like to add to our collection, let me know at bgracia@cstx.gov.

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