While developing the infrastructure of the first down-the-island community of Jamaica Beach, workers accidentally unearthed the site of a Karankawa burial ground. To pay homage to the Indians’ 500 plus-year habitation, a group of Galvestonians marked the site with an aboveground crypt with windows looking down upon the skeletons and artifacts intact as they were found.
I remember visiting the site most vividly as a child on a spring weekend outing with my parents. Standing on tiptoes, I peered down on the bones, pottery, a canoe and various other items, feeling all the while that I was peaking into the past. I was determined to share this story someday.
The opportunity presented itself for inclusion in my second guide to historic Galveston, “Beyond the Beaten Paths,” which launches on Saturday. Indeed, the Karankawa story was my main motivation for Chapter Seven, which travels all the way west to Jamaica Beach.
Unfortunately, I discovered that the exhibit was vandalized during the 1970s and closed. I contacted the office, which provided an online copy of one of the original sales pieces for the development — I was thrilled. They then put me in touch with cousins Cindi Proler and Kathlene Wilson of the Jack and Welcome Wilson Jamaica Beach Museum. They provided wonderful images of the above-ground crypt, as well as the exhibit below. Although my small driving guide could accommodate only two of these images, I can only say “thanks and thanks, and ever thanks” to these cousins for helping to keep Galveston’s history alive for the future.