Paleontologist William P. Huff

Most Texans can easily conjure images of soldiers, hardscrabble farmers, merchants and others associated with setting up a frontier colony. But what about an early Texas scientist? Likely the first paleontologist in Texas, William P. Huff, a resident of San Felipe de Austin, searched the Brazos River terraces between San Felipe de Austin and Cooper’s Shoals several miles downstream. He made several discoveries of fossil animals and collected remains of mastodon and prehistoric bison bones between 1828 and 1845. Although he never opened the museum at San Felipe that he contemplated in 1839, Huff did exhibit the bones in New Orleans and many of his specimens became part of the collections of the British Museum. In 2003, while conducting archeological investigations at San Felipe, archeologist Marianne Marek recovered a number of fossilized mammoth bones that may have originally been brought to San Felipe by William P. Huff.