Real Presidio de San Saba

Terence Russell

Hillsboro, United States

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Artist's Description

The story of Presidio San Sabá is the story of Texas. It is the story of contentions and competing interests. It is the story of the Spanish Colonial pursuits of God, glory, and gold, and of the struggle of Native American groups to thwart the foreign invaders.

Today the presidio (Spanish for “fort”) lies in ruins, but it is not hard to imagine how it looked at its height in the mid-1700s, when it was home to more than 300 Spanish soldiers and civilians, some of them women and children. You can picture the soldiers practicing drills in the presidio’s open courtyard while herders tended cattle and farmers worked the nearby fields. With imagination, you might catch a whiff of fresh-baked bread and meat roasting on a spit or hear children playing in the courtyard. But then, suddenly, the reverie ends with the shout “Fore!” followed by the sharp thwack of a metal club striking its target, and then the quiet thud of a golf ball finding purchase on the green.

Today, Presidio San Sabá lies just outside the town of Menard, Texas, at the western edge of the Texas Hill Country. The presidio sits amid Menard’s Municipal Golf Course, not far from the clear, winding San Saba River. The standing stone ruins are evocative, but they are not from the original 1760 stone construction. Instead, they are the remnants of a past project to reconstruct the presidio. In 1936 and 1937, a crew hired by the Texas Centennial Commission and paid for by a grant from the Texas Legislature reconstructed the northwest portion of Presidio San Sabá as a tangible reminder of the past. These reconstruction efforts, relatively faithful to the design of the original presidio, began to deteriorate not long after their completion. Today they are just a ruin, another crumbling testament to Texas history.

Presidio San Sabá, originally known as Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, was constructed in April of 1757 by a Spanish force led by Captain Don Diego Ortiz Parilla. The presidio, which was subsidized by the Spanish crown, had a threefold purpose: to protect the nearby Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá, to assess the validity of rumors of rich silver deposits in the area, and to guard the Spanish frontier against the threat of Indian encroachment. The companion Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá was built a few miles downstream for the purpose of Christianizing the Lipan Apache. But by soliciting the Apache, the Spanish unwittingly made enemies of the Norteños, long-time foes of the Apache.

The Indian groups the Spanish called Norteños (“northerners”) included various bands of the Comanche, Wichita, Kitsai, and Caddo tribes who were united in their hatred of the Apache. The Nortenos were also trading partners and sometimes competitors whose territories covered a huge swath of the Southern Plains and into the forests of East Texas. In March of 1758 a large force of Nortenos attacked, looted, and burned Mission San Sabá, less than one year after its founding (see the Texas Beyond History exhibit on Mission San Sabá). The mission was never rebuilt, however, the presidio lived on for another 14 years until hope for silver riches waned. The presidio was abandoned in 1772 by order of the Viceroy of New Spain.

info from Texas Beyond History

Historic Marker data:

Real Presidio de San Saba
Marker Title: Real Presidio de San Saba
Address: US 190, at Menard Country Club
City: Menard
County: Menard
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Designations: na
Marker Location: 1.5 miles W of Menard off US 190 about .5 mile (on grounds of Menard Country Club)
Marker Text: Originally established on the San Gabriel River as the Presidio of San Francisco Xavier in 1751 moved to the present site in 1757 as a protection to the Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba known as the Presidio de San Luis de Las Amarillas 1757-1761. After March 1761 the name was real Presidio de San Saba the stone building was completed in 1761.(source: Texas Historical Commission)

National Registry of Historical Places data

Site of Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas ** (added 1972 – Site – #72001369)
Also known as Real Presidio de San Saba’
Address Restricted, Menard
Historic Significance: Information Potential, Event
Area of Significance: Religion, Military, Historic – Non-Aboriginal
Cultural Affiliation: American Indian
Period of Significance: 1750-1799
Owner: Local Gov’t
Historic Function: Defense
Historic Sub-function: Fortification
Current Function: Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function: Sport Facility

Camera info
Canon EOS Rebel T1i
Canon 18-55mm lens
F-stop f/9.5
Exposure 1/180
ISO 100
Focus 36mm

HDR data
tripod, 1 RAW image, Photomatrix Pro 3.2


in Unique Buildings Of The World

Artwork Comments

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