Miranda's Inspection of Los Almagres:
His Journal, Report, and Petition
Translated and Edited by RODERICK B. PATTEN*
W HILE OSTENSIBLY CHRISTIANIZING APACHES AT THE SPANISH
mission of San Sabi near present Menard, Texas, the priests
and soldiers used the Indians to work rich silver mines. For years the
enterprise flourished. But one day hostile Indians massacred the in-
habitants and destroyed all evidence of the ore deposits. So goes the
legend of the lost San Sabi mines.' The story, a fanciful blend of the
histories of the ill-fated mission and a mine seventy-five miles east
called Los Almagres, apparently evolved in San Antonio de Bejar
during the 181 o's.
The territory of San Sabi encompassed a large part of the hilly
country between the San Sabi presidio on the upper San Saba River
and the presidio of San Antonio de Bejar. The range of hills now
known as the Riley Mountains in southeastern Llano County was in-
cluded in this district. In the Rileys is the deposit of reddish-brown
gossan or almagre known to the Spanish as Los Almagres.
In 1819 Juan Antonio Padilla reported that north of San Antonio
near the Colorado River there were mineral deposits "known to the
Indians but not worked."" While crossing the Colorado on his first
trip to Texas and Mexico, Stephen F. Austin was told by his escort,
Erasmo Seguin, that up the Colorado on the San Saba River there
was a rich silver mine and that on the Llano River there was a "gold
*Mr. Patten is with the Department of Geology at The University of Texas, Austin.
He wishes to express his gratitude to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for assist-
ance given him under the Clara Driscoll Scholarship for Research in Texas History.
xThe best summary of the legend appears in J. Frank Dobie's Coronado's Children
(Dallas, 1930), 1-61. Some of his account was rewritten from the Texas Folk-Lore
Society's publication No. III, Legends of Texas (Austin, 1924), 12-27. The San Saba
mission was destroyed by the Comanches and their allies in March, 1758, only a year
after it had been established. A nearby presidio remained occupied for at least ten more
years. Robert S. Weddle, The San Sabd Mission: Spanish Pivot in Texas (Austin, 1964),
72-73, 179. The name San Sabi was corrupted to San Saba early in the nineteenth cen-
tury. The present town of San Saba near the mouth of the San Saba River should not be
confused with the Spanish mission or presidio sites of San SabA, seventy miles upstream.
"Mattie Austin Hatcher (trans.), "Texas in 1820," Southwestern Historical Quarterly,
XXIII (July, 1919), 59.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed April 18, 2014.