Page 5 - Heritiage Guide 2016
P. 5

Sebastopol 19 acre island host to guests, goats and indian artifacts
By: Emily Koehler
Lake Livingston, one of the largest reservoirs in Texas, consists of 83,000 surface acres and stretches well into Trinity County. The lake is home to a variety of marine wildlife, a hotspot for  sherman, and is at the heart of many memories shared by area families. In Trinity County, it’s also home to two islands that are the center of local legend and speculation.
In Sebastopol, TX, an unincorporated community in Trin- ity County, a 19-acre island can be seen from the Hwy. 356 bridge, with lush greenery that spans from one side to the other. Years ago the land was named “Goat Island” due to the aggregation of goats that live there today, and have for years. It’s rumored that the Trinity River Authority who owns the land put the goats out there to control the vegetation, however, Mark Holton, a representative of Trinity River Authority, said that isn’t the case. It’s likely, Holton said, that the goats ended up on the island when the lake started coming in, because it was a high point of land that would keep them out of the water.
Aside from being a home to goats, the island is also a com- mon spot for swimmers to rest, or boaters to stop. Perhaps more interestingly, it’s where local author Guy E. Powell claims Aztec Indians lived prior to their legacy in Mexico.
Powell’s book, “Latest Aztec Discoveries”, hypothesizes that Trinity County – Goat Island and Bird Island, in particular
-- was the home up North Aztecs often referenced to Hernán Cortés after his invasion of Mexico. The book is well known by residents of Trinity County, many of whom have stopped by the Trinity library to read; and some of which have ex- plored the islands on their own and claim to have found Native American artifacts.
The book sets forth an array of evidence, primarily by matching geography and land markings to descriptions Aztecs made to Cortés; and much of which can be cited by locals who have an invested interest in Lake Livingston – where they spent childhood summers or caught their  sh as adults.
One such resident, Rankin Ramsey, 55, has spent plenty of time  shing in the area. About twenty years ago when lake was low from a drought, he said, he even found arrowheads on Bird Island, which is just North of Goat Island near Camp Olympia.
Bird Island – named for birds swooping down at its visitors -- is known for what Powell and locals believe was a sacri cial stone used by Aztecs. The stone is large, smooth, and de- scribed by Powell in “Latest Aztec Discoveries” as around six feet long and two feet in width. Powell also noted that it had what appeared to be a drain hole, and he believed it was used in religious practices.
According to Trinity County law enforcement, there haven’t been any human sacri ces or major crime on the islands since that time, aside from occasional nudity and public intoxication.
John Raiford, 51, is the Chief of Police in Groveton, TX, and a distant relative of Powell. He has a few memories around the islands of his own.
“I remember tubing around there a lot one summer,” Raiford said. “When it was time to take a break, all you had to do was nose up on Goat Island. The goats wouldn’t bother you.”
He also has fond family memories of his dad attempting to catch bass in the area, and occasionally catching him instead; or the time the family Dachshund, “Hot Shot”, leapt from their boat to tree a squirrel. “He barked for about twenty minutes,” Raiford said. “All the while, we kept  shing.”
Fun summer days aren’t all Raiford remembers when he thinks of the islands, however. There was a feeling they gave him, he said, that wasn’t comfortable.
“You get the distinct impression you are being watched,” Raiford explained. “And that feeling doesn’t leave until you do. The hair stands up on the back of your neck.”
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, pottery has been found around Lake Livingston that dates back 2,200 years, and likely belonged to Paleo-Indians, the  rst people to inhabit America. That doesn’t mean Aztecs didn’t  nd the area later, though.
Powell found clues that pointed to Aztec culture in other areas around Lake Livingston as well, including drawings in caves, hieroglyphics, tools, and carvings.
To visit Goat or Bird Island, visit Trinity County, and re- member that both are only accessible by boat.
from pg. 3
Stephenson Jr.
Several Houstonians made
the short trip up U.S. 59 to help with the trash collection, but increasing their participation was listed among the goals
for the next effort. As Mike Read of Onalaska, another of the event coordinators, told the Polk County Enterprise after the 1991 effort, “Lake Livingston is a Houston water supply and the largest number of surface users of the lake are from the Houston metroplex, so we expected some Houston participation, but there was very little.... We are planning for better coordination with Houston in April ’92.”
Organizers also planned to challenge all counties along the Trinity River Basin, which runs from a small creek north of Dallas-Fort Worth to Galveston Bay, to participate in the April clean-up. As one volunteer put it, “It can only improve the quality of life for all of us.”
Lake Livingston’s “Goat Island”
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221 Pan American Dr. Livingston, TX 77315
James L. Mayland, Pastor
[email protected] 936.327.3239
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Family First Health Clinic 1930 US Hwy 190 West Livingston, Texas 77351 (936) 327-9944
Family Health Clinic 16 N Liberty Shepherd, Texas 77371 (936) 628-1694
Onalaska Family Clinic 14181 US Hwy 190 West Onalaska, Texas 77360 (936) 646-7541
Dogwood Family Clinic 613 West Bluff Woodville, Texas 75979 (409) 331-1000
Family First Health Clinic of Splendora 13817 US Hwy 59 Splendora, Texas 77372 (936) 689-6901
Accept Most Insurances At All Clinics

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