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NEW BOOK: THE MILLINGTON ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN PRESIDIO, TEXAS 


On December 2, 1747, Spanish Captain Commander Joseph de Ydoiaga arrived at the Pueblo of San Cristobal after crossing the Rio Grande somewhere in the vicinity today's Presidio, Texas. Captain Ydoiaga, escorted by a contingent of militia and six Indian guides, came to San Cristobal during his exploration of the La Junita region to report to the Viceroy of New Spain the feasibility of establishing a presidio to protect the Spanish missions near La Junita against Indian attacks. Apache and Comanche raids had decimated La Junita and northern Mexico forcing the Spanish to seek a military solution to the ongoing Indian problems. Ydoiaga made careful and detailed written observations of the people and places he saw in the region and his writings offer the single best single source of information we have about Spanish colonial attempts during this time. Enrique Madrid superbly translated Ydoiaga's writings in the excellent "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" published by the Texas State Historical Commission 1992. This is a book that everyone with an interest in Big Bend history needs to read. When Ydoiaga came to San Cristobal, he held talks over a three day period with the pueblo leaders and residents, inquiring about their community and their farming methods, which were greatly affected by droughts, and flooding of the Rio Grande. Also, the Captain conducted a census of the community that numbered 157 individuals.

In June 2003, city workers were digging a trench with a backhoe to replace an aging water line on Third Street on the southeastern edge of Presidio. To their surprise, they accidentally dug up some very old human remains and reported the incident to the Center For Big Bend Studies in Alpine. CBBS archaeologists came to the site and during an initial assessment documented three burials in and near the backhoe trench. In January 2006, armed with grant money from the Preservation Texas Trust Fund, the City of Presidio, and the Trans-Pecos Archaeological Preservation Program of the CBBS, archaeologists began an extensive investigation of the Millington Site. CBBS Director William A. Cloud worked as Principal Investigator and Project Archaeologist with Dr. Jennifer Piehl as Assistant Project Archaeologist. The archaeologists discovered fourteen features including parts of three structures, five human burials, a ring midden, and two small hearths along with a total of 2,745 artifacts. The Millington site proved to be the place described by Ydoiaga 261 years ago as the San Cristobal Pueblo.

The project finally resulted in a fine new book by William A. Cloud and Jennifer C. Piehl titled, "The Millington Site: Archaeological and Human Osteological Investigations Presidio County, Texas". Published by the Center for Big Bend Studies, the 211-page book contains an amazing amount of data and information. As a historian, I found this book to be absolutely fascinating because in addition to the detailed and complete archaeological information, the authors did a superb job of explaining the importance of the data, the historical context and how the study greatly advances our knowledge of the La Junta people and their environment. It like, "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" is a book that cannot be overlooked by anyone wanting to truly understand Big Bend history.

"The Millington Site" is available at Front Street Books in Alpine. It can be ordered online at: http://www.fsbooks.com or by calling 432-837-1126.

Gj












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