Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988 Page: 10
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THE SEARCH FOR SAN SABA
by Shawn B. Carlson
D uring the eighteenth century, the Spanish presence
in Texas was deliberate and calculated. Efforts were
focused on establishing settlements populated by indigenous
peoples and Spanish emigrants, with little or no tolerance for
outsiders. One of these settlements, conceived of as a center
for Spanish operations on the Great Plains, has been largely
overlooked by modern researchers. Plans are currently underway
to identify the location and investigate the remains of
this settlement, the Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba, and the
presidio with which it was associated, the Presidio de San Luis
de las Amarillas, situated along the San Saba River in presentday
Menard County, Texas. According to Robert S. Weddle,
the Spaniards "...had planned the Mission and Presidio of San
Saba as a base from which to penetrate the Great Plains. They
had visualized, first, the development of a flourishing town,
then of the entire region, and second, the establishment of
trade routes across the Plains country to New Mexico after the
country to the north and west had been explored." The
importance of the Spanish vision of conquest in the New
World cannot be ignored in assessing the significance of
events that occurred along the San Saba during the eighteenth
century. These ambitious plans may, in part, explain
why the Presidio de San Luis de las Amarillas was the largest
presidio ever constructed in what is present-day Texas. A collaborative
effort by the Center for Historic Resources, the
Texas Historical Foundation, and the Archeological Research
Laboratory, all located at Texas A&M University, has
made preliminary steps towards implementation of a proposed
three-phased investigation which may provide an
answer through the use of historical documentation, archeological
survey, and archeological excavation.
In May of 1756, Colonel Diego Ortiz Parilla succeeded
Don Pedro de Rabago y Teran as commander of the San
Xavier Presidio, located in present day Milam County, and
was ordered to remove the remaining inhabitants to San
Antonio. "From there he was to leave for the San Saba River
with the San Xavier garrison of 50 men, plus 22 men from San
Antonio, and 27 recruits. Parilla was to transfer all the
property of the three San Xavier missions to the new site at
San Saba where he was to build a presidio and establish three
missions." (San Sabd Mission, Weddle, page 38)
Between April 5 and April 17, 1757, Parilla led an expedition
of 61 men, six missionaries, and nine families of
Tlaxcalteca Indians from San Antonio to present-day
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988, periodical, 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45436/m1/10/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.