El Camino Real is remnant of mission era

This is the 14th, and last, in a series on Milam County's 18th Century Spanish missions.

Milam Count y, in Central Texas has supported human habitation for 10,000 years.

Hunting and gathering peoples established themselves along the San Gabriel River by 4500 B.C.

Thirty-three Native American tribes were associated with the three missions located along FM 908 in the western part of the county.

The Lipan Apache Tribe was not affiliated with the missions and caused much unrest during the missions' existence.

Perils before and during the time of these missions brought havoc to the land and its people.

A "ball of fire" descended from the heavens, raids and murders caused by the attacks from the Lipan Apaches, disease that caused many deaths, the drought when San Gabriel River dried up, and the murders in Mission Candelaria added up to end the Missionaries' effort to Christianize the Natives.

Field data in Dr. Kathleen Gilmore's Thesis indicates that these three missions were found to be:

• 130 miles northeast from San Antonio, or 250 miles west of Natchitoches, Louisiana.

• Between the San Gabriel River and Brushy Creek.

• In an area on the western (dry) edge of humid east Texas region.

The mission sites contain artifacts of Spanish Colonial and Indian origin and have been the sites of archeological digs, the last one earlier this year.

In October, 2004, national legislation designated "El Camino Real de los Tejas" as Texas first National Trail.

The early 1691 route of this trail travels through Milam County and is deemed "significant" by the National Park Service.

The location of the three missions, the historic river crossing, (Apache Pass), the two areas along the confluence of the San Gabriel to Little River and Little River to Brazos (known as "Rancheria Grandees) and Sugarloaf Mountain point out the history of the land and the people in present day Milam County.

Milam, a small rural county, rich in its history both of the land and its people, is part of the history of this great state of Texas.

Research: Dr. Kathleen Gilmore 1969 Master Thesis "San Xavier Missions."

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