William Milton Longworth (1869 – 1937) had more to do with popularizing the San Saba legends than just about anyone. He was J. Frank Dobie’s primary source when Dobie wrote Coronado’s Children. Longworth was usually employed as an electrician in San Antonio, but he sought out buried treasure when ever he could. As a child he spent time with his father in California, and the lure of the gold mines was to haunt him for the rest of his life. When he showed up in Texas he went to work right away to find a mine of his own.
As an electrician he developed a sort of metal detector, he called it his “radio sleuth.” The principle behind it may have been sound, but he may have overestimated its ability to detect metal scores of feet away. Besides treasure stories in Texas he also searched for pirate treasure in Florida.
He held the lease on the supposed San Saba mine for several years after World War One. How he lost it was probably due to a family crisis. No matter, he moved onto other legends. If there was a hot new treasure story in Texas, Longworth was not far behind.
Longworth stayed in touch with Dobie from the time he told Dobie about the San Saba treasure up until his death. Dobie was a busy man, but took time to write back to Longworth when he could. Longworth had hoped to follow in Dobie’s footsteps and write a treasure legend book of his own, but it was never published.