San Gabriel is on Farm Road 486 seventeen miles southwest of Cameron in western Milam County. In the 1730s and 1740s several Spanish missions were established near the site in an effort to Christianize the Indian tribes living in the area, but these projects were abandoned by the mid-1750s. The mission buildings soon fell into ruin, and by the end of the nineteenth century little trace of them remained. The town of San Gabriel began in 1843 or 1844, when Jesse and Peter Mercer built cabins on the San Gabriel River. The community was granted a post office in 1850. By the mid-1880s San Gabriel had a steam gristmill-cotton gin, a church, two schools, and 130 residents. Cotton, corn, and oats were the principal crops grown by area farmers. Population estimates for San Gabriel ranged from a low of twenty-five in 1890 to a high of 350 in 1929. The number of residents fell to 200 by the early 1940s, and to seventy-five by the late 1950s. San Gabriel served as the center of a common-school district until 1960, when the school was consolidated with the Thorndale Independent School District. The San Gabriel post office was discontinued in the late 1960s. Two churches, a business, and a community hall were marked at the site on county highway maps in the 1980s. The population in 1990 was 100. The population remained the same in 2000.
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San Gabriel by the Numbers
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