Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 4
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BY MARSHALL J. DOKE JR.
Your membership in the Texas Historical
Foundation has a direct impact on
research in, and preservation of, Texas history.
Our article in this issue by Christopher
Caran discussing the recent discovery
of what is believed to be the lost Spanish
Los Almagres silver mine in Llano
County is a direct result of financial and
other assistance provided by the Texas Historical
Caran's article also demonstrates that
cooperative Texas landowners can contribute
significantly to the discovery of new
historical information. There is, moreover,
a fascinating story preceding the story in
The story began in 1950 when a young
child, James D. Stotts, moved with his family
to a ranch inherited by his mother at
Packsaddle Mountain, about 15 miles
southeast of Llano, Texas. At the time,
there was only one old mine known to exist
on the southern ridge of the mountain.
According to Stotts, most of the area
on the side of the mountain with the mine
was covered with mesquite trees and was
"super brushy," so thick that "a jackrabbit
would have had trouble getting through it,
and you could not have seen a mine five
feet away." Around 1960, the mesquites
and brush on the ridge of the mountain
were "burned off slick," exposing eight
more mines previously unknown in the
memory of anyone in the area.
In the 1980s, Stotts and a friend did
some preliminary research regarding the
lost Spanish mine, but they gave up upon
learning that, in 1907, University of Texas
History Professor Herbert E. Bolton had definitively
located the Los Almagres mine
several miles away.
Much later, a retired game warden and
amateur historian, Joe Wallace, entered the
story. Wallace, who currently is employed
by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,
leased the Stotts' property for hiking tours.
Wallace told Stotts in early 1997 that he
believed the legendary Los Almagres silver
mine from the Spanish Colonial period
could be among the group on Stotts' ranch.
Both Stotts and Wallace began their
own search for information regarding the
lost Spanish mine. This work eventually
included Stotts personally paying for a new
translation of the 1756 report and diary of
Bernardo de Miranda, who was tasked by
the Spanish Governor to evaluate the
mine. Stotts says he concluded from this
translation that Professor Bolton's mine
location was on the "wrong side of the
creek." However, both Stotts and Wallace
repeatedly were told by professionals that
Bolton had identified the Los Almagres
Stotts contacted archeologists in several
Texas universities requesting their examination
of the mines. One professor expressed
interest, but said he was committed
to work in his own area in West Texas.
Several archeologists declined based on
Professor Bolton's work; others simply ex
pressed no interest or never returned telephone
The most favorable response Stotts received
was while he was attempting to talk
to an archeologist at a south central Texas
university. Stotts told the person who answered
the telephone that he wanted to
talk to the "head man," and the person said,
"I guess I'm him."
Stotts related the known history of the
Los Almagres mine in detail and recited his
reasons for believing the mine was on his
property. The man expressed increasing personal
interest and enthusiasm, even excitement,
for a professional assessment and concluded
by saying he needed to put Stotts in
touch with the university's Archeology Department.
Stotts nearly shouted, "who are
you?" The man replied that he was the head
coach in the Athletic Department.
After more "dead ends," Stotts finally
was referred in 1998 to Oliver Franklin, our
Texas Historical Foundation executive director.
Franklin arranged for a meeting with
a recognized expert on old mines, Christopher
Caran, who recognized the potential
significance of the mines on Stotts' property
on his first visit. Caran's article in this
issue is the "rest of the story."
We hope you will share our excitement
regarding Caran's preliminary conclusion
that the legendary mystery of Los Almagres
has been solved. You also can share in our
pride in this project because your membership
in, and contributions to, the Texas
Historical Foundation were part of making
this discovery possible.
Marshall Doke is a lawyer in the Dallas office
of Gardere & Wynne, L.L.P. He welcomes
your comments or suggestions regarding the
Texas Historical Foundation at his e-mail address
of mdoke@gardere. com.
HERITAGE * 4 * FALL 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000, periodical, Autumn 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45391/m1/4/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.