321 years of History in Milam County
First in a series of three articles on El Camino Real de los Tejas National Trail
October 8, 2012 is the date set to dedicate El Camino Real de los Tejas National Trail
in Texas. Milam County is the first county to receive NPS Trail signs. The following
32l year’s history tells how this history contributed to Texas El Camino Real de los
Tejas National Historic Trail.
In 1691 there were explorers and missionaries in, what we know today as Milam County,
writing diaries to identify the area and inhabitants. They researched the San Gabriel
area, site of the Xavier Missions and Apache Pass River crossing.
In 1747, Father Fray Marino accompanied by soldiers and Native Americans traveled to
Xavier River to investigate establishing missions there. That resulted in San Xavier,
San Ildefonso and Nuestra Candelaria Missions being established near the river in the
San Gabriel area. There was a garrison/presidio that was manned by soldiers lead by
Captain Rabago sent to protect the Missions. The land was lush green, buffalo roamed
the area, the soil was rich with wild onions, plums and small game and buffalo.
Lipan Apache and Comanche tribes were not friendly to residents of the missions.
Tonkawa, Caddo, Mayeye, Deadose, Yerbipiames and other small tribes were residents of
the three missions. The missions were not successful and in 1755 they were disassembled
and moved to the San Marcos River area. Missions left were in San Antonio and La Bahia
(Goliad) and in East Texas.
After the Missions were relocated, little history is available until the United States
began dealing with filibusters infiltrating Texas and causing trouble with the Spanish
authorities in 1791.
From the removal of the missions until 1820’a when the anglo-pioneers encountered
Indians in Milam County, little is known about the Indians here. This was during Robert
Leftwich and Sterling Robertson‘s colonization to bring some 800 families to Texas to
seek land and set up homesteads. Some of the native tribes were still short term
inhabitants. The tribes that remained in the area raided homes set up by settlers
around San Gabriel and Nashville area where Sterling Robertson, Impresario, set up his
headquarters, naming Nashville as the Capitol.
Research: Malcolm McLean
Matchless Milam, Milam County Heritage Preservation Society 1984
Bit of History