Archaeologist Kathleen Gilmore has unlocked some of the most elusive mysteries of Texas history.
By ALLEN HOUSTON, The Dallas Morning News, 05:01 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
VICTORIA, Texas –
Kathleen Gilmore, the first archaeologist to prove the location of explorer La Salle’s Fort St. Louis, returned to the site near Victoria, Texas, earlier this year with a French documentary film crew.
She spent decades hunting down the location of the French explorer La Salle’s lost fort before discovering it near the Gulf Coast. She also excavated a number of Spanish colonial forts in Texas, including Mission Rosario, near Goliad.
At age 92, the Preston Hollow resident will visit Spain in December to study a recently discovered cache of documents sent from early Texas missions.
But her greatest accomplishment may have been digging the way for other women to follow in her footsteps….
[Now, why would she need to dig her/our way forward? for example,
Jeff Durst, an archaeologist with the Texas Historical Commission, added: “She’s got an incredible amount of spirit and spunk for her age.”
Time’s passage hasn’t slowed Dr. Gilmore.]
Dr. Gilmore grew up in Tulsa and in the 1930s attended the University of Oklahoma, where she studied geology, believing that it would be easier to help support her family during the Depression.
Instead, the only work she could find was as a secretary for a geologist in Houston.
“That’s the way it was at the time, and me and a lot of women were forced to accept that,” she said.
In the early 1940s, Dr. Gilmore married her husband, Bob, and moved to Dallas, where they had four children. She didn’t go back to school until she was 49, enrolling in the archaeology program at Southern Methodist University.
… Dr. Gilmore became the first female president of the Society for Historical Archaeology and was an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas for 15 years. She also was the first archaeologist to prove the location of La Salle’s Fort St. Louis, according to the Texas Historical Commission….
Fort St. Louis lasted from 1685 to 1689 before its last inhabitants were killed by Indians, according to the Texas Historical Commission. By the camp’s end, La Salle had been murdered by some of his men while trying to make his way to French settlements in Canada.
Dr. Gilmore’s search for the fort began in the early 1970s when she helped analyze some ceramic fragments found in a field near Victoria. The shards turned out to be from the Saintonge area of France…. “One of the great what-ifs of Texas history is, ‘What would our state be like today if the French had been successful with their colony?’ ” Dr. Bruseth said, laughing….