Caddo Mounds Historic Site volunteers vow to rebuild grass house destroyed by tornado

Caddo Mounds Historic Site volunteers vow to rebuild grass house destroyed by tornado
SFA's baseball team helped with the cleanup of debris at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site Monday. (Source: SFA Athletics Facebook page)

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - Volunteers who helped construct a grass house much like those that once existed at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site have vowed to rebuild after a tornado destroyed their most recent replica.

The volunteer group, Friends of Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, labored for months in 2016 building the grass house by Caddo methods. On April 13, 2019, one of two tornadoes which hit Cherokee County tore through the Caddo Mounds historic site, taking the grass house along with it.

The process of rebuilding the grass house by hand will be just as laborious as before, but the president of the Friends of Caddo Mounds group said there were lessons learned the first time around that will help in the rebuild.

“The first thing we’ve got to do is collect poles, pine poles, and we’ll do that with a Native American collection permit, and we’ll do that in the Davy Crockett National Forest,” said Jeff Williams, FCM’s president.

Williams said in 2016, the group received guidance from a Caddo tribe elder, who has tentatively agreed to help in the rebuild, “even though he said the last one was his last house,” Williams joked.

To make the house as authentic as possible, workers will again use only material that would have been used on the houses that were populating East Texas, southeast Oklahoma, southwestern Oklahoma, and northeastern Louisiana as early as 1,200 years ago.

READ MORE: Caddo Mounds Historical site finishes Grass House construction

“The [pine] poles will need to be peeled, and then we’ll raise the poles and bend them into shape,” Williams explained. “We hope to do that around this time next year; we hope to do that on a long weekend.”

Williams said he hoped to begin the project by summer 2020.

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