Sabinal Canyon

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Utopia, located in the Sabinal (or Ugalde) Canyon, is on the Sabinal River at the junction of Ranch Road 187 and 1050, twenty-three miles north of Sabinal in Uvalde County. Archeologists have found evidence of Paleo-Indians in the canyon. Spanish explorers made several excursions into the area to take careful inventory of tribes, to note the flora and fauna of the area, and to name the rivers, mountains, and streams. They called the Sabinal River Arroyo de la Soledad. In 1790 Juan de Ugalde united Comanches, Taovayas, and Tawakonis and led a decisive victory over the Apaches at the site of future Utopia. The Spaniards also found silver and dug a shaft on the east side of Sugarloaf Mountain, five miles south of Utopia. This mine was seen by John C. Duval in 1836. On June 10, 1839, a party under John C. (Jack) Hays and Juan N. Seguín pursued a band of Comanches into Sabinal Canyon, where they destroyed newly deserted villages. Hays encountered the Comanches again on June 24, 1841, when eight Comanches were killed and two taken prisoner. Capt. William Ware, a soldier in the Texas Revolution, moved to the canyon with his son and six slaves in 1852, thus fulfilling a resolution he had made in 1835, when he first saw the place. With 600 head of cattle and two ox-drawn wagons full of seeds, fruit trees, food, and tools, they had to move large boulders to get the wagons through the pass into the canyon. Gideon Thompson, Aaron Anglin, John and James Davenport, Lee Sanders, Henry Robinson, and Chris Kelley soon arrived. More settlers arrived in 1853, and by 1856, a store-post office was built by Charles Durbon, who became the first postmaster of Waresville. In 1856 Victor P. Considerant purchased 47,000 acres of land in the canyon from the Cañon de Ugalde Land Company. This purchase was financed by the European and American Colonization Society. Considerant's plan to establish a Fourierist phalanx in the canyon did not materialize because the failure of La Réunion, near Dallas, had made potential colonists too wary.

Settlers had friendly contact with Tonkawa Indians who had come to plant crops for their people, who were due to come later. The Kickapoos raided many times during the early years. Lipan Apaches captured Frank Buckelew in 1866 and held him captive for eleven months. They also raided Mr. Kincheloe's home that same year while he was away. His wife, Sarah, Captain Ware's daughter, was lanced seventeen times, and Mrs. Ann Bowlin was killed. Warfare continued until 1876. Kincheloe moved his family to land a mile north of Waresville, where he built a two-story home in 1873, marked off and sold lots, and donated land for churches, a park, and a school. In 1884 a survey for the town of Montana was filed in Uvalde County, and the post office was moved from Waresville to Montana. When they learned that another place in Texas was named Montana, residents renamed the place Utopia. By 1880 a stage stopped weekly at the community, where 150 citizens supported two gristmills, a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, a store, and three churches.

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Janie S. Tubbs | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Sabinal Canyon is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Sabinal Canyon is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Utopia)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated