Box Colony

By: Donald E. Everett

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 25, 2019

Michael James Box, at times a member of the Texas Rangers, heard a story that a man could make $25,000 a day from the gold in "Red Mountain" near Durango, Mexico. Counterreports did not prevent him from collecting more than 300 followers, including women, children, and his aged parents and leaving Laredo, in March 1861, in search of riches. During the next five months the colonists experienced thirst, extreme fatigue, and the tyranny of Box's leadership. As they neared their destination, the little mining town of Corneta, smallpox broke out, and Box had to obtain medical assistance through the governor of Durango. None of the colonists could speak Spanish, a factor that contributed to their delusion. Box and ten men departed on a fruitless two-week search for Red Mountain. Upon the return of the party, the angry colonists attempted to have the governor of Durango prosecute Box, but the Mexican official refused. Thereafter the colonists broke into confused groups–one man was killed at a fandango, some were too poor to return to Texas, and a dozen went to work in the nearby mines, but most of the Texans returned home. Some of these were murdered en route. Box remained at Corneta as a miner, although other members of his family returned to Texas.

James P. Newcomb, Secession Times in Texas (San Francisco, 1863).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Everett, “Box Colony,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2019