Jonas Short Site

By: Edward B. Jelks

Type: General Entry

Published: February 1, 1995

The prehistoric Jonas Short site, now submerged by Sam Rayburn Reservoir, was on the north bank of the Angelina River in southeastern San Augustine County. Its principal feature was a conical mound, 7½ feet high and ninety-five feet in diameter, with a flat, circular surface, estimated to have been erected between A.D. 100 and 500. It was partially excavated in 1956 by E. B. Jelks as part of salvage archeological studies preceding the construction of the dam.

The Jonas Short mound was unusual because it contained a submound cremation and artifacts similar to burials and artifacts of the Marksville culture of Louisiana and of the Adena-Hopewell cultures centered in the lower Ohio River area. Excavation revealed that a shallow pit was dug in the ground and one or more bodies were cremated in it. A mound of sandy soil (Zone A) was then was heaped over the cremation, and an upper mantle of tough red clay (Zone B) was added to seal off the cremation and Zone A. Five small caches of artifacts were placed in the mound fill as it was being raised, three of them in Zone A, two in Zone B. Artifacts from the mound included two copper bracelets associated with the cremation and, from the caches, a copper reel-shaped gorget, two boatstones made of hornblende syenite, perforated elk-tooth beads, a perforated pendant of polished quartz, and large, stemmed, chipped-stone bifacial tools so heavily polished that most of the flake scars were obliterated. The gorget and the boatstones, especially, bore striking resemblances to forms found in Adena-Hopewell-Marksville contexts. Within the mound fill, as well as in the ground around the mound, were potsherds, stone projectile points, and other artifacts of types that occur commonly in other sites in San Augustine and surrounding counties. Patently, the Jonas Short Mound is related to the Coral Snake Mound in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, forty miles northeast, where, between 1965 and 1967, B. B. McClurkan and H. R. Jensen found artifacts similar to some of the Adena-Hopewell-Marksville artifacts at Jonas Short.

Edward B. Jelks, The Archeology of McGee Bend Reservoir, Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1965).

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

Edward B. Jelks, “Jonas Short Site,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995