A Bit of Rice Prehistory, 1966

I opened a file folder labeled “Rice Land” and was astounded to discover this correspondence from a man whose ancestors had owned a piece of what became our campus. It begins rather oddly, inspired as it was by an article about cutting cedar trees in Texas. Honestly, it occurs to me that the entire letter might be considered odd. There are some assumptions buried in there that seem a bit dubious. But still, it’s awesome. Stick with it!

The sketches that the author describes were also in the folder, with detailed captions firmly glued thereto. I folded them back a bit and scanned them separately so everyone can see the full drawings:


I did some digging and discovered that the gentleman who produced this missive, Edwin Bonewitz, is a compelling story himself. Here is the biographical note that accompanies the finding aid for his collection which is housed downtown at the Houston Metropolitan Research Collection:

Edwin Bonewitz was a lay historian interested in the history of Texas and especially Houston during the Republic and early statehood periods. Ed Bonewitz spent countless hours in the Harris County Court Records and in the Houston Public Library researching various topics with all the intensity of a perfectionist. Although he was an antiquarian concerned with esoteric subjects and completely caught up in detail, the results of his research are impressive.

It’s hard to argue with that.

Bonus: As I read the letter and the captions I worried that no one at Rice would have cared much about this. I was wrong, though. I’ve always liked Hardin Craig and this makes me like him even more.

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8 Responses to A Bit of Rice Prehistory, 1966

  1. Michael Bludworth says:

    Awesome entry! …make sure all Houston “historians” are made aware of this collection!

  2. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen 76 says:

    It may have been wise to have kept Harris Gully as a major property boundary and allowed it to flow freely to Brays Bayou.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I think it would be fantastic to restore it but I don’t think that’s in the cards.

      • Linda Wild says:

        As part of Classroom Connect last spring, Dr. Cin-Ty Lee led a walk through Harris Gully

        Birds, Bugs and Botany: A Guided Walk Through Rice’s Harris Gully
        Speaker: Cin-Ty Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

      • marmer01 says:

        There has occasionally been discussion of reopening it over the years, but often in the context of moving or greatly shrinking the stadium and redeveloping most of the existing parking into green space. The pictures are pretty, but there’s a lot of money (and significant opposition) to deal with.

  3. Bill Johnson '57-'58 says:

    During a Surveying class, Dr.Jim Sims had us look for a USGS Bench Marker in he gravel in front of Fondren Library. We never found it and Dr Sims concluded that it must have been removed during the construction of Fondren. Looking back on the curriculum I wish there had been a project of searching old Court House records and Rice Land Deeds.

  4. effegee says:

    NGS shows only one marker on campus now: https://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/ds_mark.prl?PidBox=AW6576 The map shows it in the quad behind the sallyport.

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