1880 Browder Springs Article

This would appear to be an April Fools joke. The image of “Phoenician” symbols appears to be the work of some local Masonic lodge member. It is similar in tone to the bogus article containing the byline “Sam Slick” reporting on the exploration of a subterranean chamber near Rockwall. A few scraps of fact are buried in the obscure 19th century humor.
-David Campbell, August 31, 2009

While checking web stats for Anarchaeology.com I came across this item which was posted at the Dallas Hisorical Society forum in 2003. There is another on Rockwall in 1907 mentioning the arched passageways and the discovery of a mammoth fossil in a Dallas gravel quarry, which distracted the author from further investigation. George Wilson in his 1949 Masters thesis on the geology of the Southern Rockwall Quadrangle mentions the discovery of a mastodon between Rowlett and Rockwall near what is now Chiesa Road but neither have been associated with the buried walls directly. Pranks such as the following are typical of 19th century humor and provide no end of frustration in trying to sort fact from filler in these old newspaper accounts.


More Specimens Found Near Browder
Springs–Does the Light of Other
Days Shine on Us Through

It is a fact well known in this city that in the many excavations, diggings and borings that have been made by the Water Supply company, and others around Browder Springs, numerous geological and zoological specimens have been found. The teeth and different bones of mastodons on different occasions have been dug up, and fossilized shells, and not a great while ago at a considerable distance under the surface, Mr. Duncan, City Engineer, while getting out gravel near these springs, found a number of eggs of either some member of the saurian species, or of some large fowl, the shells in a perfect state of preservation. The waters of these springs being strongly impregnated with lime, seem to have a tendency to petrify animal and vegetable matter. These specimens that have been found, go to show that this country, in the ages past, was the home of the mastodon and other orders of the animal kingdom long since extinct. We find, too, in various parts of the Union, traces of the existence of peoples who lived centuries ago, and who have left behind them no mark to tell who, or what, they were, save these traces as shown in pottery, in hieroglyphics and in the bits of skeletons of themselves found in the mounds, many of which, have become noted and about which much has been written, both in prose and poetry. Col. L. J. Dupree, formerly editor of the Austin Statesman, but now in Washington, has investigated the subject of the mound builders, and written a number of papers for Harper’s Monthly and other magazines, about them, and he has also poetized on the subject. In some parts of the country, too, walls and the ruins of seeming fortifications have been found, erected by hands that centuries ago, crumbled into dust, the hands of a people far more intelligent and advanced in civilization than any of the Indian races found in America. All these things lead the cultivated and informed people of the country to believe that this country, in the long ago, was inhabited by a race or races of people who had advanced as far in the arts and sciences as obtained in the days of Hiram, when Solomon was building the temple at Jerusalem, and when the mighty tomes were being gathered into the great library at Alexandria. Yesterday, while some excavations were being made at Browder Springs, at the depth of some twenty feet below the surface, three tablets of a peculiar nature were discovered. They were rough and encrusted with dirt when first dug up, but their triangular shape and a ringing sound they emitted when struck with a pickaxe, arrested the attention of the workmen, and they stopped to examine them. The dirt was scraped off of them and they were then washed clean. They seemed to be petrified wood, but were perfect, no part having decayed on one of them, the other two being somewhat defaced. As we said, they were triangular in form, being isosceles triangles, the sides of one being six inches in length, and the other two, four inches. A description of the large one is a description of all, and we give it. Near the apex is a letter, and immediately underneath it, the figure of a human eye, on each side of which, is a letter, and underneath the eye, another letter. Underneath this last letter, is a skull and cross-bones, on either side of which, is a letter. The two smaller tablets have evidently the same symbols on them, though they are defaced apparently by the decay of the wood. The human eye and the skull and cross-bones are the work of a master hand. No wood engraver of this day and time could make better. The letters are old Phoenician characters. The tablets were brought to the HERALD office, and to decipher the heooglyphics was the work of the hour. Research soon revealed the fact that they were Phoenician characters, and corresponding with our letters, A. D, M, O, S, L. Below we give an exact diagram of the tablet, substituting English letters to correspond with the Phoenician characters.

The query, naturally, is, how did those tablets come to be buried near Browder Springs? That they had lain in the earth there for centuries, there can be no question. The earth above them was the gradual, slow formations of long, long years. Dynasties and empires passed away and generation after generation was called to their final account during the years they have lain there. Ethnologically, the Phoenicians were Arabs, or connected with the Arabian family. Nomadic in nature, they were disposed to roam over the face of the world, and we can readily believe that they found their way to America, wandering through the wilds of Asia, the snows of Siberia and across Behrings Strait, either in boats improvised for the purpose, or perhaps upon the ice, to the American continent. Once on this continent, they could, without much difficulty, each this portion of it. They were dark in color, as our Indians are, and it may be that the American Indians is descended from this people. The Phoenicians, we known, made the first alphabet and originated mathematics. We know, too, that they were skillful workers in gold and silver, iron and brass, and that the products of their looms were prized over the then known world. They were proficient in letters, arts and the sciences. Hiram, King of Phoenicia, sent to Solomon when he was building the temple, an artist skilled to work in gold and silver, and stone and timber, and who could grave any manner of graving. They had a religion of their own, and wherever they wandered, they clung to the traditions, legends and ceremonies of their country. Is it impossible that these three little triangular tablets, with their Phoenician letters to speak for them, are not relics that speak to us from the grave of buried centuries, to tell us that once, where we now live and boast our intelligence and civilization, a people lived equally as intelligent and learned in handicraft as we? This is but speculation, it is true, but the tablets are here, and can be seen by any one at the office of the Water Supply company, on Austin street.

– April 1, 1880, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 3.

“An exact diagram” of the mysterious relic.

Drawing of Mysterious Relic

Drawing of Mysterious Relic


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