The Lost Jim Bowie Mine LbNA # 40324 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||May 27 2008|
This box has been lost due to restoration at the site.
James Bowie (originally spelled Bouie), was born in Kentucky in 1796 and spent most of his life in Louisiana, where he was a fine arts lover, horse breaker, alligator wrestler and gambler. He came to Texas in 1828 with a letter of introduction for Stephen F. Austin and settled in San Antonio. By 1830, he had become a Mexican citizen, prospector, and land speculator. His reputation as a fighter preceded him and he was both feared and respected for his prowess with his famous Bowie Knife, which his brother, Rezin Bowie, actually designed. He became friends with the Vice-Governor of Mexico and married his daughter, Ursula Veramendi. Bowie discovered Indians trading silver in San Antonio and after his marriage, he went to live with the Lipan Apaches to learn the source of their silver. He found it near the Presidio de San Saba, which the Spanish had abandoned due to the fierce Indians in the area, in what is now Menard County, Texas, on the San Saba River. He proved himself an able warrior and was adopted as Lipan Chief Xolic’s son and initiated into the tribe. The Chief, some say, gave Bowie the right to work half the silver mine in exchange for food, guns and medicine, and Bowie returned to San Antonio to get men and equipment in order to obtain his share. A warrior in the tribe named Tres Manos (Three Hands, because he wore a human hand around his neck) resented the intrusion of the white man and had Xolic killed, then tracked Bowie to San Antonio to call off the deal. The resulting confrontation led to a fight in which Jim Bowie almost killed Tres Manos with his Bowie Knife. Tres Manos managed to return to the San Saba to recover and lay in wait for Bowie. Bowie returned with ten men, one of whom was his brother Rezin. Upon reaching the San Saba in November of 1834, Bowie encountered Tres Manos and his tribe, who outnumbered Bowie’s outfit 200 to 11. Tres Manos set fire to the area on two occasions in an attempt to flush out the Texians, but a quickly-erected stone buttress and a fortunate shift in the wind direction contained the fires. Only one of his men, Thomas McCaslin, was killed and several were injured, but 80 of the Indians died before finally retreating. Jim Bowie returned to San Antonio for his wounded men to recover. Meanwhile, Bowie’s wife Ursula and their two children contracted cholera and he took them to Mexico, where they died. Some say that Jim Bowie turned to drinking and never came back to the San Saba for the silver. Legend has it that he buried 20 mule loads somewhere in the area before his battle with Tres Manos. He died at the Alamo and soon after, Rezin died in a battle in Monterrey. As far as anyone knows, the mine and all the silver remain lost.
From Junction, Texas, on Interstate 10, take Highway 83 north 31 miles to Menard, Texas. Go north through town until you cross the San Saba River. You’ll see a brown sign on the right directing you to turn left onto Hw. 190. Do so, and just as you cross Celery Creek, you’ll see another brown sign on your right that says “Presidio de San Saba” and below it “Golf Course”. Turn left and continue past the golf cart garage to the Menard Country Club main clubhouse, passing the ruins of the Presidio, which was rebuilt in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. You’ll see an information sign to your right. Park there and read the sign.
To the box:
Go to the arched entrance. Look down to the right at the large white stone, which is original to the 17th century building. Note the name, Bouie, scratched into the stone. Who knew Jim Bowie was into grafitti? Historians believe that he actually carved the name into that stone, probably with his Bowie Knife. Go under the arch and go left along a path to the turret room (watch for falling rocks). When you come back out, sit at the far end of the stone/concrete sitting area. Look down to the left in the corner where the bench meets the wall. The box is there, under rocks. When you are done, please replace the rocks so that the box remains hidden.