Spanish Fort Sites

By: Edward B. Jelks

Type: General Entry

Published: June 1, 1995

The so-called Spanish Fort Sites, a series of historic archeological sites, stretches for several miles along both banks of the Red River in Montague County, Texas, and Jefferson County, Oklahoma. Remnants of earthworks found at the location by nineteenth-century settlers were erroneously associated with the Spanish. Later studies identified the sites as a group of Indian villages affiliated with the Wichitas. Most authorities believe these to have been the villages of Taovayas Indians and their allies, attacked unsuccessfully by Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla in 1759 in an effort to punish the Indians responsible for the massacre at Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission the previous year. In the mid-twentieth century Joseph Benton and R. K. Harris collected numerous artifacts from the surface of the sites. E. B. Jelks and J. N. Woodall conducted the only controlled excavations at the Texas sites in 1965 and 1966. In limited testing, they found five house pits, four cache pits, and a number of artifacts, including typical French trade goods (gun parts, brass kettle fragments, steel knife blades, etc.) plus potsherds, clay and stone pipes, clay figurines (of people, animals, and birds), and other items of Indian manufacture. Similar artifacts and features were found in Oklahoma components during test excavations in 1965–67. Artifacts and field notes from the Jelks-Woodall work are stored at the archeology laboratory of Southern Methodist University.

Robert E. Bell, Edward B. Jelks, and W. W. Newcomb, comps., A Pilot Study of Wichita Indian Archeology and Ethnology (Final Report for Grant GS-964, National Science Foundation [Mimeograph, Southern Methodist University, 1967]). Elizabeth Ann Harper, "The Taovayas Indians in Frontier Trade and Diplomacy, 1719–1768," Chronicles of Oklahoma 31 (Autumn 1953).
  • Archeology
  • Land Sites
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

Edward B. Jelks, “Spanish Fort Sites,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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