THE ENCHANTED ROCK  |   PART  FOUR:

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"The groundwork for an accurate and comprehensive knowledge about Texas is found in the work of the Englishman Kennedy,
for a number of years British consul in Galveston. In addition to
a detailed history, there is also an extensive description of all the natural conditions of the country. Careful critical use of all available sources gives this work especial worth. It must be remembered, however, that the author learned to know only a small portion of the country through personal observations and that he had to rely
upon reports of other persons, which caused errors and discrepancies to creep in."

--Dr. Ferdinand Roemer (1852)

 

goldminer.jpg (85623 bytes)Since the time of the Spanish, San Antonio had been the wellspring of legend regarding the Central Min-eral Region. While many adventurers left San Anto-nio in search of lost Spanish mines, British diplomat William Kennedy visited San Antonio to mine the rich vein of tales regarding the mysterious frontier. Kennedy’s book, Texas, published in 1841, was so well received in Germany it became the catalyst that shaped the destiny of the Texas frontier. Kennedy’s descriptions of the "flower-spangled" landscape, lost mines, and the mysterious landmark Enchanted Rock fueled the imaginations of the German noblemen, who organized a society for Texas immigrants.

"Some specimens of gold and silver have been brought from the neighborhood of the San Saba hills and the mountainous region about one hundred and fifty miles north-east [sic] of Bexar," Kennedy wrote. Although Kennedy clearly noted his reliance on Mexican legend regarding the Spanish mines in the region, the stories had the ring of truth.

Enchanted Rock, the most unusual landmark in the area and the gateway to the land of lost mines was described by Kennedy: "About twenty-five miles from the Colorado, on the northwestern branch of the Piedernales [sic.], is a rock, considered one of the natural curiosities of Texas. It is about two hundred feet high, of an oval form, and half embedded in the soil. It is composed of parti-colored flints, and reflects the sunbeams with great brilliancy. A spring gushing forth near its summit sprinkles its sides with water. Owing, it is supposed, to the presence of some phosphoric substance, it wears an illuminated aspect on dark nights. This rock is held sacred by the Indians, who visit it at stated periods, for the purpose of paying homage to the Great Spirit, after their wild and primitive fashion."

Despite the factual errors—there is no spring on its summit, it is composed of granite, not flint, and there is no phosphoric substance, etc.—the influence of Kennedy’s work cannot be underestimated. It was the most comprehensive book on Texas written by a man who had a remarkable grasp on the political and economic issues of the time. In print, legend and rumor often carry the weight of fact, and many people of the day believed Kennedy’s observations. And their belief determined their actions. Consequently, Kennedy’s book actually shaped the course of Texas history.

Kennedy’s remarks regarding the presence of gold and silver mines were actually true. Shortly before the turn of the century Gail Borden, founder of the Borden Milk Company, owned a gold dust mine on Sandy Creek. Furthermore, silver mines have been in almost continuous operation in Llano County since Miranda’s discovery in the 1700s.

INTRODUCTION |  PART 1: THE FIRST PEOPLEPART 2: THE IMAGINARY FRONTIER  |  PART 3: GONE TO TEXAS 
PART4:
WILLIAM KENNEDY'S TEXAS | PART 5: JACK HAYS  |  PART 6: THE NEW PROMISED LAND  |  PART 7: THE OPEN FRONTIER 
  PART 8:
PIONEER ARTIST  |  PART 9: INTO THE MODERN ERA  |  PART 10: POSTSCRIPT

(c) 1999   Ira Kennedy   All rights reserved