San Esteban was a settlement of adobe buildings on Alamito Creek near what is now the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line, three miles west of Tinaja in northeastern Presidio County. The first record of the San Esteban site dates from the last quarter of the 1500s, when Spanish explorer Agustín Rodríguez erected a special cross at the San Esteban water hole. Capt. Juan Domínguez de Mendoza, another Spanish explorer, visited San Esteban early in 1684, when he followed Alamito Creek in search of the Jumanos Indians and the rumored river of pearls. The small settlement of San Esteban developed around the famous water hole about a century after Mendoza's visit. About 1824 Comanches massacred a group of prison colonists called the Condemned Regiment as they hunted near San Esteban. In 1839 the Chihuahuan trader Henry Connelly stopped at San Esteban with seven wagons and 100 men as his expedition followed Alamito Creek toward the Red River. His journey opened the Chihuahua Trail (see CHIHUAHUA EXPEDITION), on which San Esteban became a regular stop. In the late 1870s the grassland around San Esteban attracted cattlemen: the Bishop family arrived to ranch in 1879; the Jordan family, in 1885. W. W. Bogel and his five sons raised cattle and mules at San Esteban Ranch and sold horses to the United States Army. The San Esteban Dam was completed in 1912, and the townsite was flooded. In the 1980s the historic settlement was at the bottom of San Esteban Lake.
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