In Southwest Texas there were few men better known in his time and none were more enterprising and active than Refugio San Miguel. A man of great energy and perseverence, he forged his way from obscurity and poverty to a position of local prominence and influence. He was a native of Mexico and was born at Matamoros about the year 1828 and grew to manhood in Mexico. His father, Pablo San Miguel, was a stockman of that country and raised his sons in the business.
When our subject arrived at his majority he left home and went to Santa Rosa, Mexico, to seek employment. The opportunities in Mexico for young men to advance were not good and, being ambitious to accomplish something in the world, young San Miguel became restless and decided to try his fortune in Texas and, accordingly, went to Eagle Pass about the year 1851. There he found employment, saved his earnings and was soon enabled to commence business for himself. He engaged in raising cattle and sheep on a small scale, and, by close attention, his stock prospered and increased. He also engaged in freighting and this branch of business finally grew to large proportions, extending to towns far distant into the interior of Texas and Mexico.
Mr. San Miguel's stock business prospered, and in the spring of 1863 he located lands and opened one of the largest stock ranches, at that time, in his section of the State. This was situated about fifteen miles above Eagle Pass on the Bruckett road. Indians at that time were roaming at large in that portion of Texas and were troublesome and sometimes hostile; so much so, that it was difficult to find men who cared to risk their lives in herding stock. For their retreat and better security Mr. San Miguel built a rock fort on the ranch, which afforded them protection and answered the purpose, also, of a ranch house. This structure still (1896) stands. It not only served the purpose for which it was built but was also utilized, or visited at times, by the United States troops during the late war between the States. When the war broke out Mr. San Miguel allied himself with the cause of the new Confederate States and served as an enlisted soldier in his own locality.
In 1855 Mr. San Miguel married, at Eagle Pass, Miss Rita Alderate, a daughter of Miguel Alderate an esteemed citizen of Eagle Pass. She was born at Santa Rosa, in the State of Coahuila, Mexico, January 8, 1842, and still survives in the prime of vigorous womanhood. She was a most faithful and dutiful wife, and is the mother of six children, all living at Eagle Pass. Mr. San Miguel was yet a poor man when they were married, having only an ox and a flint musket. The latter he traded for another ox, and bought a cart and ran in debt for another ox. His success in life is in a great measure due to the support, encouragment and fortitude of his estimable wife. Mr. San Miguel met a sad and untimely death at the hands of a murderous Mexican employee who, for some imaginary wrong, laid in ambush and shot him dead, on the Brackett road, about five miles north of Eagle Pass, while on his way home from his ranch, September 8th, 1863. He owned at the time of his death 3,000 head of cattle, about 600 being work-oxen. He also owned 9,000 head of sheep, and horses enough to handle the extensive business of his ranch. Mrs. San Miguel was made administratrix of the estate, and the admirable manner in which she managed its affairs shows her to be a woman of great executive ability. Refugio San Miguel was essentially a self-made man. He cared nothing for public affairs and devoted all of his time and energies to his business. He was a kind and considerate husband and father and was always loyal to his friends. He was a man of the strictest integrity and had the full confidence and esteem of all who knew him. The children of Mr. and Mrs. San Miguel live at Eagle Pass and are, in order of their respective births: Jesua, now Mrs. Francis Garza; Trinidad, who married Angelita Diaz ; Martha, now Mrs. Miguel Falcon; Refugio, now Mrs. Jesus Geln; Nicolas, now Mrs. Trinidad Herrera; and Miguel, who married Miss Refugio Galan. Trinidad San Miguel is the oldest son and the leading business man of Eagle Pass. He has inherited the excellent business, moral and social traits of his father. He was born August 5, 1859, and was a lad when his father died; but being matured in mind for one of his years, he soon relieved his mother of many of the cares and burdens of business and also became practically the head of the family. He received a good business education at San Antonio and has put it to a most satisfactory use. He took charge of the ranch and stock interests when a youth and conducted the business successfully. He now, with a younger brother as partner, owns a fine stock ranch near Eagle Pass upon which they range 2,500 head of cattle, and Mr. San Miguel himself has paying wine rooms, of the best class and finest equipped, in Eagle Pass, Texas, and Porfirio Diaz, Mexico. He has held office of State Stock Inspector at Eagle Pass for a number of years. He was United States Inspector of Customs at Eagle Pass during the presidential term of Benjamin Harrison, and performed the duties of the office with credit to himself and the entire satisfaction of the government authorities. Mr. San Miguel also served four years on the Board of School Trustees of this city and declined thereafter re-election.
He is a cool, conservative and valuable citizen and successful business man. He is popular with the public, and has the bearing and address of a courtly and affable man of affairs. Refugio San Miguel died without leaving a picture and the publishers are therefore pleased to present an engraving of Trinidad San Miguel, as representing the family. He is said to bear a strong resemblance to his father; has inherited his talents and is one of the leading citizens of the section of the State in which he resides.