We are starting a new phase – fundraising for justice

We partnered with MTDN a major network that is supported by celebrities and people nationwide to help raise funds for the Spanish Land Grant Heirs and Descendants injustices.  We met as a team together to decide what step is next while major litigation is going on, funds must be raised for now and our future.

This isn’t just about those who have been able to afford an attorney, this fight is for equality of all Texas Spanish Land Grant Heirs and Descendants who have a rightful inheritance.

This is our first goal, please help us meet the goal. The MTDN was started by actress Jessica Biel and then as her brother was shutting down the network, because it got to overwhelming, the network was purchased continued to change focus on more specific causes that address the concerns of peoples , not just in the United States but globally.

For more more information about the cause, please visit MTDN cause at this link, click here.  Please spread the word, every dollar counts.


Porcion 47 – the Los Porciones Series

Porcion 47 in the Jurisdiction of Reynosa was originally granted to Joquin Ysidro Ponce in 1767. It consists of 6,713 acres and is located in Hidalgo County. The next owner is listed as Francisco Guerra Chapa.


Los Sauces – Antonio Longoria – Los Porciones Series

Los Sauces was originally granted by the state of Tamaulipas on the 16th day of November 1831 to Antonio Longoria. It was surveyed for his legal assigns the heirs of Francisco Ygnacio Farias. 11, 475 acres are located in Nueces County and 6,237 are located in Jim Wells County.


FOWLER & MORGANROTH Facebook Events and Raffles Texas Spanish Land Grant Heirs

Don’t miss this and share with all of your family and relatives (clients of Mrs. Fowler)  .  Thank you.

Mrs. Fowler has asked us to share all of this in our network, so no one gets left out.  We created Facebook events so people could get information quickly and share with their families and groups.

The Arena Event is here  with direct links to the tickets, however for information please follow Mrs. Fowlers Website or Facebook site 

You can also contact her committee members for more information, as we are sure she is over flooded in her emails.

The raffle information and events are here: There are two separate raffles you can join both, you do not have to be present to win.

Again please join these facebook events and share them with everyone and encourage them to share them with everyone in their family and groups. You can check to see if it is sold out, but as of this post, there are still seats available.


We will not be silent, what about you?

What happened to we will not be silent? Our team is not silent and we are not sleeping giants, we are awake. Many of the descendants are watching and listening to everything that is going on but they are not getting involved. We are having some people like our posts, or post a comment, but we do not have very much active involvement, just followers. Yet the South Texas Spanish Land Grant Heirs are still suffering this gross injustice. One of our network members Richard Alaniz just posted something here ,


It does not take much to be a voice for change, to be one voice united, to get involved. The days of just liking a post, are soon coming to an end. We need your likes but we need your comments, and your shares, and your membership, and your support, and your Voice, and your volunteer, and your involvement.

So as Mr Alaniz so elegantly stated, “its time to join this coalition and movement on behalf of our decedents,” It’s time to be a Voice of Change, it’s time to rise up. So here are some ways you can get involved

1) Become a member or a Premium Plan Member
2) Make a donation
3) Here are many ways you can start getting involved click here
These include fundraising, grant writing, plan an event, contact a celebrity or business to get involved and don’t forget to tell us what you are doing with our volunteer submission form,

These are just some simple ways to grow our network, for our network to be heard (a voice of change)

The truth is many people are subscribed, listening but how many of you are active ?   We had asked for people to share stories, interviews, information about there history and land,  get involved in elections, and many more things.  Yes it is great to listen and read, but this is not the time to sit back and watch your inheritance fade away. This is a time of war, to fight and go through fire.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. – Dr. Martin Luther King

” Survival demands that we grapple with problems – Martin Luther King .. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and in a hurry, to bring the ..peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. …Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. “


We were asked to get the event news out to our network.  Many people are asking about seating.   Here is info about the event click here

Groups and Families Sitting together, please visit Mrs. Fowler’s Facebook page

We think it would of been nice for a volunteer to coordinate seating with large groups if you can help please contact Mrs. Fowler.
Another suggestion is have a group reps go in a little early to reserve a section (maybe bring some colored string or rope). Also Mrs. Fowler mentions having a group sign, this is crutial.

Here is a map of Laredo Energy center.  Click on the map for a link.


If you need tickets click below

Ticket Price: $25

(Other fees may apply)




Undrinkable – A Third world problem in Texas Hispanics

Many along Texas border still live without clean, safe water

An Avant filling station during a recent water outage in Rio Grande City. Photo by Spencer Selvidge.

Turn on the faucet. Fill a glass with water. Drink it. Acts so commonplace you perform them without thinking twice.

Flora Barraza cannot. Neither can José Garcia, nor the cooks at Los Pasteles Bakery No. 2, nor the elderly at the Epoca de Oro Adult Day Care.

Along the Texas-Mexico border, nearly 90,000 people are believed to still live without running water. An untold number more — likely tens of thousands, but no one is sure — often have running water of such poor quality that they cannot know what poisons or diseases it might carry.

“Some people have no idea that there’s still third-world conditions in the most powerful country in the world.”

— U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo

They are mostly low-income Hispanics, some living in isolated pockets or low-grade developments on land nobody else wanted. Poor, powerless and out of sight, they continue to grapple with the illnesses and hardships that come from lacking such a basic necessity.

“Some people have no idea that there’s still third-world conditions in the most powerful country in the world,” says U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat whose constituents live in some of the worst conditions.

It is not a new problem. State and national governments launched massive efforts to solve it in the 1980s when the border’s population surged. They created huge institutions to funnel billions of dollars toward building treatment plants and pipelines.

But many people have been left behind. Whether rooted in sloppy development, political infighting, lax enforcement or environmental hurdles, each border community’s challenges tell a version of the same story — families struggling for an essential resource most people take for granted.
Nestled in the mountains of West Texas near Big Bend State Park, the small community of Las Pampas is so remote that it has never been worth the cost to run pipes to just a few dozen homes. Residents are left to haul their water from miles away.

In Rio Bravo and El Cenizo, neighboring border towns a few miles south of Laredo, a brand-new water treatment plant was supposed to provide nearly 10,000 people with clean drinking water. But local leaders never mustered the political will or dollars necessary to run it properly, and last year eight workers were indicted for allegedly faking water quality reports.

On the dry banks of the Rio Grande in far West Texas, many in the village of Vinton have hoped for decades to give up contaminated groundwater wells and pipe in clean water from big-city neighbor El Paso. But local political infighting got in the way.

And in the Rio Grande Valley, a new water plant should have delivered clean drinking water for 14,000 people in Rio Grande City. But a tangled web of locally owned corporations still serves much of the city.

From poorly treated water to no running water at all, concerns about the damage being inflicted on public health are grave. The burdensome lifestyles thrust upon these four communities and others along the border are emblematic of a widespread indignity: Despite the state’s development and economic progress, some Texans hold a more tenuous grasp on a civilized life.

“What’s interesting about this is that despite these hardships, [these communities] continue to grow,” said Jacqueline Angel, a public affairs professor who studies Hispanics’ health outcomes and demographics at the University of Texas at Austin. “The population is growing. The problem is not fading.”

How many Texans don’t have drinkable water?


The best guess is that 90,000 Texans — roughly 3.5 percent of those living along the border — don’t have running water in their homes.
SOURCE: Border Environment Cooperation Commission, 2010 U.S. Census.

But it’s likely that tens of thousands of Texans have running water that might not be fit to drink. The Tribune visited four communities, home to at least 24,059 Texans, whose water is suspect.

Rio Grande City: 14,021
Rio Bravo/El Cenizo: 8,067
Vinton: 1,971
Las Pampas: Unknown (estimated 30 families)

People who live in the village of Vinton, just outside El Paso, are more likely than their neighbors to have skin problems and gastrointestinal issues — stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea — among other maladies.

Researchers believe high levels of arsenic, E. coli and other contaminants found in their drinking water are responsible.

Vinton is one of the few towns that have been formally studied, but its experience is echoed along the border. Bad water makes people sick.
Stomach and intestinal issues mostly result from drinking water contaminated with bacteria. Chronic public health concerns — like cancer and debilitating diseases — more likely spring from chemical contaminants such as arsenic or pesticides.

But data on the health toll of bad water in most poor Texas communities is murky.

“We provide funding to Texas’ health department, and even then we have difficulties [finding] that data,” said José Luis Velasco, U.S. executive director of the United States-México Border Health Commission.

Because many living on the border do not have health insurance, and others are undocumented immigrants, it’s likely most diseases and ailments resulting from unsafe water are underreported.

Texas physicians are required to report cases of certain infectious diseases to local and state health departments. But they can’t report illnesses they never see.

“It’s very difficult for [poor border residents] to go to clinics and hospitals, so obviously the data won’t get reported,” Velasco said.

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo who has worked to improve water quality in border communities, says lingering distrust of tap water — evidenced by the many border residents who buy bottled water even where tap water is safe — proves that local and state officials have more work to do.

“Ensuring clean water is a cost-effective investment,” Zaffirini said. “It’s expensive, but it’s less expensive than dealing with the health consequences.”

Alejandra Rodriguez, who sells party supplies like piñatas, hasn’t trusted the tap water since moving to El Cenizo from Mexico. She claims that the water coming out of the tap is the culprit behind her recurring skin rashes. Photo by Jennifer Whitney.

Institutions run by Texas, the U.S. and Mexico have for years struggled to provide border communities with clean drinking water. And for hundreds of those communities, it has worked, officials say.

In the past three decades, state and federal programs together have pumped at least $1.79 billion into water improvement projects on the border.

The money has brought water treatment plants to small Texas border towns, wastewater treatment facilities to Mexico to prevent raw sewage from being dumped into the Rio Grande, and water pipes to countless homes and businesses.

But the Texas secretary of state’s office still counts tens of thousands of residents in impoverished communities lacking running water — and suffering from it.

Because of the sheer number of agencies involved on both sides of the border, no one accepts primary responsibility for finding and helping communities in need of clean water. Ask any of them who’s in charge and most point the finger at someone else.

“Ensuring clean water is a cost-effective investment. It’s expensive, but it’s less expensive than dealing with the health consequences.”

— State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo


What is clear is that dwindling funds and endless bureaucracy are blunting progress at all levels.

In 1994, the U.S. and Mexico created the North American Development Bank, or NADBank, to keep an eye on environmental issues — especially water — along the border as the North American Free Trade Agreement kicked in and populations exploded in border towns.

In the 1990s, Congress approved hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to NADBank for border water projects. But the bank lacked enough staff to administer all that funding at once for the poor communities that needed it.

Frustrated, lawmakers began to choke off the flow of grant money. Today the bank mostly gives out loans to communities that are big enough or have the wherewithal to pay them back.

“Every single agency has felt the pinch of scarcity of money,” said Temis Alvarez of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, which helps administer NADBank funds.


The story is similar at the state level. In 1989, the Texas Legislature gave the state’s Water Development Board funding for water and sewer projects in the infamous colonias, which proliferated as developers took advantage of poor residents along the border by peddling cheap housing but never delivering basic necessities like running water.

That funding has since been redirected to any economically distressed area along the border, including colonias. The Water Development Board continues to loan money to such border communities for water projects, but there’s a waiting list. And grant money for those that can’t pay back loans is almost nonexistent.

Simply asking for money takes resources, too. Applying for government funds often takes hundreds of hours of work and expertise that poor communities lack. And even for those border communities that do manage to get funds and build water projects, the story doesn’t end there.

Local governments often fail to properly manage treatment plants, or the money and expertise required to operate them doesn’t last. And regulators — like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — only have a limited ability to make sure things run smoothly.

Eric Razo, 11, helped load five-gallon water containers into the back of his aunt’s vehicle during a recent water outage in the part of Rio Grande City serviced by Union Water Supply Corporation. Photo by Spencer Selvidge.

“You’ve got to look at what authority the Legislature’s given to everybody,” said Steve

Niemeyer, the agency’s head of border affairs. “They’re ultimately the ones responsible if they want to step in and do something.”

He added, “We just do what we’re told, given the authority that we have.”


Along some stretches of the Texas border, the biggest challenge to providing clean water is the Rio Grande itself.

More than 1,200 miles of the river separate Texas and Mexico, and in many stretches it isseverely polluted. Cities and companies on both sides dump toxic waste, untreated sewage and other hazardous material into the river each day.

That’s a particular problem in Mexico, where growing cities with overwhelmed treatment plants dump their raw sewage into the Rio Grande, contaminating it with E. coli and other harmful bacteria.

In other areas, where the river is dry, people dig shallow wells and pump water from underground, which carries significant risks of its own. Much of the groundwater along the border has natural contaminants like arsenic. And agricultural and industrial activity, along with the lack of sewer service, mean that toxic waste ends up in the ground, seeping into the groundwater supplies people rely on for drinking.

Not all the problems of the Rio Grande — and the groundwater sources that other border communities rely on — are manmade. A 2012 report from the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that much of the border “must rely on source waters of compromised quality due to high [levels of dissolved solid materials], arsenic, fluoride and other natural contaminants.”

A young boy plays on the street in a mobile home park in Vinton that is served by a private groundwater well. The wells in Vinton were found to contain high levels of arsenic and salts. Photo by Jennifer Whitney.

And dozens of cultural barriers also stand between government and the people it’s supposed to help.

Border residents already living in austere conditions are often too scared to ask for relief, said John Henneberger, co-director of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, a nonprofit that works on housing and community development problems.

Navigating complicated bureaucracy is difficult enough for low-income Texans, let alone for those who don’t speak the language. More than one-third of the Texas border’s 2.7 million residents do not speak English well, according to the state’s Office of Border Health.

In these largely Hispanic enclaves, also home to a large population of immigrants, others distrust the government, or live in fear that speaking out may attract unwanted attention to their immigration status.

“Often these are small rural communities, a number of people may be immigrants, there may be language problems, and people are poor so they don’t have the resources and the time to be able to attend meetings and to stay on top of what government does to them and for them,” Henneberger said.

Flora Barraza, 66, has lived in Las Pampas without running water for more than 20 years. She fills up a 200-gallon tank at a friend’s house with just enough water for a few days. Photo by Jennifer Whitney.

Meanwhile, political will to help improve water quality on the border is largely spent. While the state’s drought has brought a swift response from elected officials, the cries from some border lawmakers about unsafe water have gone largely unheard before the full Legislature.

Other elected officials have either passed the buck to someone else or been reluctant to admit that some of their constituents live in near third-world conditions.

At the local level, border communities operate in silos and have failed to find regional solutions to water challenges, said Carlos Acevedo, a senior project manager for the Border Environment Cooperation Commission.

Added Cuellar: “We’re in an environment of dwindling monies from Washington, and to be quite honest, I don’t hear much from Austin on colonias. I think we need a renewed effort on the colonias, both at the state and federal level.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

To donate to this cause click here

Zapata County Land Grants – is your grant here?

ZAPATA COUNTY. Zapata County (S-14) is on U.S. Highway 83 south of Laredo in the Rio Grande Plain region of South Texas. The county, named for local rancher Antonio Zapata, is bordered on the north by Webb County, on the east by Jim Hogg and Starr counties, and on the west by Mexico. The center of the county is at 26°58′ north latitude and 99°10′ west longitude. The county’s largest town and county seat is Zapata, which is on the Rio Grande at the junction of U.S. Highway 83 and State Highway 16. Other communities include San Ygnacio, Ramireño, Escobas, Falcon, and Lopeño. Zapata County covers 999 square miles, with elevations from 200 to 700 feet above sea level. The county generally has light-colored loamy soils over reddish or mottled clayey subsoils; limestone lies in places within forty inches of the surface. The flora includes thorny shrubs, grasses, mesquiteqv, and cacti. Less than 1 percent of the county is considered prime farmland. Natural resources include caliche, clay, lignite coal, sand, gravel, oil, and gas. Crude oil production in 1990 was 445,503 barrels. Zapata County’s climate is subtropical-subhumid. Temperatures range from an average of 44° F to 69° in January and 75° F to 100° in July. The average annual temperature is 74°. Rainfall averages nineteen inches a year, and the growing season lasts 295 days.

Artifacts dating from the Paleo-Indian period (9200 B.C. to 6000 B.C) demonstrate that humans have lived in the general area for perhaps 11,000 years. The local Indian population seems to have increased during the Archaic period (6000 B.C. to A.D. 1000), when many groups of hunter-gatherers spent part or all of their time in the region. The hunting and gathering life persisted into the Late Prehistoric period (A.D. 1000 to the arrival of the Spanish), though during this time Indians in the area learned to make pottery and hunted with bows and arrows. During historic times Zapata County was inhabited by Carrizos and Tepemaca Indians (Coahuiltecan groups) and Borrado Indians. The first European exploration of the region was probably made by Capt. Miguel de la Garza Falcón, who in 1747 led a group down the northern bank of the Rio Grande from the site of present day Eagle Pass to the mouth of the river following a route that later became known as the Old Military Highway. Garza described the land as “barren, with little or no water, scanty grass…and unfit for settlement for lack of an adequate water supply.” Nevertheless, the first settlement in the future county was founded just three years later by José Vázquez Borrego, a rancher from Coahuila. On August 22, 1750, he founded Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Hacienda a few miles from the site of present San Ygnacio. To settle the area Vázquez moved twenty-three families from Coahuila. The same year, José de Escandón was in the area founding new settlements. Vázquez contacted Escandón and proposed that Dolores Hacienda be added to Escandón’s list of proposed settlements. In exchange, Vázquez offered to establish a ferry on the river at his own expense. Escandón agreed, gave Vázquez the title of captain, and assigned him fifty sitios. After a visit to Dolores in early 1753, Escandón wrote to the viceroy commending Vázquez and his colonists and noting that the community was well established. Eventually Vázquez’s holdings increased to 350,000 acres, and by 1755 the ferry at Dolores was the most important crossing on the Rio Grande. Originally, the southern part of the county was in the jurisdiction of Revilla, and both colonies were incorporated into Nuevo Santander. Colonists of Revilla, whose lands extended across the river, made a settlement at Carrizo (later Zapata) about 1770, which eventually became the area’s largest settlement. Ranching was the primary industry in the early years. In 1757 Vázquez owned 5,000 horses and mules, 3,000 cattle, and more than 1,000 donkeys; he exported an estimated 500 mules per year. In 1818, after a series of Indian attacks, Hacienda Dolores was abandoned, though by 1830 it was once again occupied. In 1821 the future Zapata County, along with other settlements between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, became part of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

From the Texas Revolution until the Mexican War the region was disputed territory, claimed by both Texas and Mexico. In 1839–40 Antonio Zapata and other residents joined Antonio Canales Rosillo and Jesús Cárdenas to fight for the Republic of the Rio Grande. Despite political turmoil, the population of the area continued to grow. By 1848 thirty-nine porciones and fifteen other tracts of land had been granted to individuals either by Spanish authorities or by the Mexican government. But raids by Comanches, Apaches, and other Indians continued to plague the settlers. During the 1850s Dolores Hacienda was destroyed by Indians, and sporadic attacks on isolated haciendas continued until well after the Civil War. Among the earliest Anglo-Americans in the region was Henry Redmond, who in 1839 filed a claim for a headright that became known as Habitación de Redmond. A small settlement eventually grew up at the site, which was called Habitación until 1858, when it was renamed Bellville. In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the Texas claim to the region, and the area of future Zapata County was included in Starr and Webb counties. On January 22, 1858, the legislature passed a measure establishing Zapata County, which was organized on April 26, 1858, with Bellville (later known as Carrizo and subsequently as Zapata) as the county seat.

On the eve of the Civil War, Zapata County was a ranching area on the Texas frontier with a population of 1,248. Because of its isolation and the fact that there were few white residents and no slaves, the county remained largely unaffected by the war and its aftermath. The area’s wealthy Mexican landed elite supported the Confederacy, and under the leadership of Santos Benavides of Laredo they banded together to protect the area from “renegade” Mexican leaders such as Juan N. Cortina. Nevertheless, because of the absence of federal and state troops, the region underwent protracted lawlessness, particularly in the early postwar years. Before the war Zapata County had been known as a haven for outlaws. During the war, cross-border raids, carried out by bands living on both sides of the border, became increasingly common. In December 1862, for example, the county’s chief justice, Isidro Vela, was murdered, and the assailants fled into Mexico. In retaliation Capt.Refugio Benavides and twenty-five Confederate soldiers pursued the men into Mexico, where they killed three of the raiders and dispersed the others. After the war both Mexican and American outlaws made frequent raids on Zapata County ranches, stealing cattle and horses and sometimes killing the occupants. After a district judge, a clerk, and various other county officials were killed in a raid in 1875, Governor Richard Coke declared that until order was restored all county judicial proceedings should take place in neighboring Webb County. Despite the threat of violence, however, the population continued to grow. By 1870 it reached 1,488, and by 1880, 3,636. Ranching remained the chief occupation, but the postbellum period saw a steady increase in sheep ranching. There were 34,960 sheep in the county in 1870 and 77,285 in 1880. The number of cattle grew from 6,957 in 1870 to 9,202 in 1880. What little farming existed was largely of the subsistence variety. Corn was the leading crop, with some 5,000 bushels harvested annually in the 1870s and 1800s. As late as 1890 the county had only 1,530 improved acres. After the 1890s, ranchers sold most of their sheep and replaced them with goats, which proved better adapted to the harsh climate and sparse vegetation. In 1910, when goats were first listed on the agricultural census rolls, there were 12,741 in the county, and the export of mohair was one of the county’s chief sources of revenue. The period after 1900 also saw a growing emphasis on farming. Cotton began to be grown in commercial quantities after 1910, and by 1920 the county’s farmers were producing 2,000 bales annually. During this same period, the population, which had declined slightly between 1880 and 1890, grew to 4,760. Although the number of white residents increased during the second half of the nineteenth century, the overwhelming majority of the population remained Hispanic, many of them the descendants of the original land grantees.

Unlike the situation in much of South Texas, relations between Anglos and Hispanics remained generally harmonious. This was partly due to considerable intermarriage. But, more importantly, large-scale farming was never introduced into the area. Many Hispanic landowners were unwilling to sell their land to Anglo newcomers, and Zapata County residents, like those in adjacent Starr County, rejected irrigation development and were thus spared an influx of northern farmers. Moreover, although Zapata County was occasionally the target of raids during the Mexican Revolution, it escaped the worst of the violence, and as a result the harsh racial polarization of many South Texas counties did not occur. Also, although Anglos took control of politics in many of the farm counties of the region, the old Mexican ranching elite in Zapata County was generally able to hold on to power, and social divisions generally were between economic classes rather than ethnic groups.

Oil was discovered in 1919, and during the 1920s the first commercial oil and gas wells were drilled in the Mirando Valley. A toll bridge between Zapata and Guerrero, Tamaulipas, was completed in 1931. In 1932 a water system was established for Zapata. Highway 83 was completed from Brownsville to Laredo in 1935, for the first time allowing Zapata County access to outside markets; many other county roads were graded and improved. Like most other Texas counties, Zapata County was hard hit by the Great Depression. Falling prices for crops and livestock made it difficult for farmers and ranchers to make ends meet, and many laborers and agricultural workers found themselves without work. The economic downturn had a particularly devastating effect on the area’s cotton farmers, who suffered the combined effects of low prices, soil depletion, and boll weevil infestations. In 1929, 11,300 of the 13,440 acres harvested in the county was planted in cotton; by 1936 that figure had fallen by more than a half, and annual production had declined from 1,031 to 426 bales. By 1946 only a very small amount of cotton was being grown. After World War II cattle ranching once more emerged as the dominant industry. Goat ranching declined after the war, and by 1969 only 128 goats remained. The number of cattle, on the other hand, increased steadily, rising from 10,733 in 1930 to 34,613 in 1969.

The postwar years saw other important changes for the county as well, including the construction of the massive International Falcon Reservoiron the Rio Grande. The project, designed to protect the lower Rio Grande valley from flooding, first entered the planning stages in the late 1940s. To oversee the project, a governmental commission known as the International Boundary and Water Commission was formed. After lengthy deliberations the board selected the line between Zapata and Starr counties as the site for the new dam. The choice of that location, however, meant that more than 115,000 acres of land in Zapata County would be inundated and would force the evacuation of 3,000 people and three of the county’s largest towns, Zapata, Falcon, and Lopeño. Problems arose when the United States government proposed to relocate all of the individuals to a single site. Some residents chose to stay on their land. But when the Rio Grande flooded in August 1954, it filled the reservoir three years before the projected date and forced immediate evacuation. As a result, residents had to move to new towns that did not yet have water systems, schools, or much housing. There were also numerous problems with the compensation the government offered to those who were forced to move. Before the inundation, the “I Bully Widows and Children Commission,” as the IBWC came to be called locally, had gone about assessing the value of land and homes that were to be lost to the reservoir. But residents were paid the supposed “fair-market” value rather than “replacement value” for their property, and many lost land that had been in their families for generations. Most also lost mineral rights. Although residents were allowed to retain mineral rights for their original property, no mineral rights were granted on their new land. Consequently, residents filed a lawsuit against the United States government for just compensation. Hearings lasted from 1954 until 1962, when the court ruled that the plaintiffs should be paid additional money for lost homes, land, and accrued interest. The reservoir nevertheless was a boon to the county, for it fostered tourism, which by the early 1960s was one of the county’s largest sources of income. Indeed, developments on the lakeshore became the focus of both commercial and social activity. For the next three decades, tourism, ranching, and oil and gas were the county’s leading industries. In the early 1990s, 90 percent of the land in the county was in ranches and farms, though less than 1 percent of the farmland was under cultivation.

From the turn of the century through the 1970s the county’s population fluctuated between 3,800 and 4,400. Between 1980 and 1990, however, the area grew rapidly, as retirees and others attracted by the reservoir came to take advantage of the low cost of living. The population was 6,828 in 1980 and 9,279 in 1990. Although the number of Anglo residents had increased, the county remained overwhelming Hispanic; in the 1990 census 81 percent of the population identified themselves as Hispanic. In 1990 the largest town was Zapata, with 7,119 inhabitants. Politically, Zapata County has been a traditional Democratic stronghold. Although Republican presidential candidates won a number of contests during the early years of the century, Democrats outpolled their Republican counterparts in every election from 1924 to 1992. Zapata residents have also generally supported Democrats in local and statewide races. Education levels in the county have generally been quite low, although the situation has improved. In the early 1990s the county had one school district with three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Approximately half the high school graduates now attend college. Nearly three-fourths of the population is at least nominally Catholic, and the estimated combined membership of the area’s churches exceeds 7,000. Recreation facilities in the county include the Falcon State Park, the San Ygnacio Historic District, Corralitos Ranch, and San Francisco Ranch. The Texas Tropical Trail, which links the counties of the lower Valley, runs through the area. There are extensive hunting opportunities throughout the year. Special events include the county fair, parade, and horse races held annually in Zapata.


Patsy Jeanne Byfield, Falcon Dam and the Lost Towns of Zapata (Austin: Texas Memorial Museum, 1971). Jean Y. Fish,Zapata County Roots Revisited (Edinburg, Texas: New Santander Press, 1990). Robert Fish, A Preliminary Index to the Royal Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in Zapata County (Zapata, Texas: Zapata County Historical Society, 1986). Jovita González, Social Life in Cameron, Starr, and Zapata Counties (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1930). Stan Green, Laredo, Antonio Zapata, and the Republic of the Rio Grande (Laredo, Texas: Border Studies Publishing, 1900). Virgil N. Lott and Mercurio Martinez, The Kingdom of Zapata (San Antonio: Naylor, 1953). Frank Cushman Pierce, TexasLast Frontier: A Brief History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Menasha, Wisconsin: Banta, 1917; rpt., Brownsville: Rio Grande Valley Historical Society, 1962). Florence Johnson Scott, Spanish Land Grants in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939). J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1954). Zapata County Centennial Commission, Zapata County Centennial Celebration, 1858–1958 (1958).

Porción 37 Zapata – the Los Porciones Series

The Treviño Circle T Ranch, one mile west of Zapata in west central Zapata County, was founded by Bartolomé de Lizarraras y Cuellar and María Gregoria Martínez. Lizarraras was a member of the Cuellar and García families, the original settlers of Saltillo, Coahuila. The Lizarraras family was among those who took part in the colonization of Nuevo Santander under José de Escandón. They settled in Villa Revilla (present-day Guerrero) and were assigned porción 37, which comprised 7,085.41 acres. The tract came to be called Capitaneño. Don Bartolomé raised cattle, goats and sheep and grew vegetables and hay. The family eventually moved across the river to what is now Zapata County, Texas, where their earliest buildings date to the 1760s. The floors of the structures were made of clay or flagstone; each of the dwellings had a fireplace for cooking and heating as well as loopholes through which muskets could be fired. In 1767 Lizarraras was granted another tract by the Spanish crown. After his death his ranch passed to his son José Miguel, who already owned two porciones. The younger Lizarraras completed construction on the ranch’s buildings and with his wife, María Gertrudis González, had six children, of whom José Antonio inherited Capitaneño at his father’s death in 1816. John James Audubon is said to have visited the ranch to sketch roadrunners for his Birds of America.


The next to manage the ranch was Juan Nepomuceno Lizarraras, who inherited it in 1859. He and his wife, Nepomucena Ochoa, kept the ranch going through the Civil War. Upon his death in 1889 the ranch was divided, and 943 acres went to Nepomuceno’s son Manuel. In 1922 Luisa, daughter of Manuel and Nepomucena Ochoa Treviño, inherited 132 acres, on which she and her husband, Filiberto Treviño, continued to raise cattle and crops. During the early 1950s most of the ranch was inundated by the International Falcon Reservoir. All the original buildings were submerged, but the family was able to save a mesquite door and some hand-hewn sandstone that was subsequently used in constructing the present ranchhouse. In 1959 Antonio Treviño, one of Luisa and Filiberto’s nine children, acquired eleven acres of his mother’s land and added 117 more acres of the original grant, which he bought from an uncle. Antonio, with his wife Evangelina González, raised horses and cattle and grew hay and had the land resurveyed. They also built a house, fences, pens, and barns and dug a tank; more recently, they drilled a water well and a gas well.

Special thanks for all the research to: Maria Rebecca Lara-Garcia. All content used with permission

El Potrero de Buena Vista in Cameron County – the Los Porciones Series

Manuel de la Garza y Soza was the original grantee of the land grant known as El Potrero de Buena Vista in Cameron County which bordered the Laguna Madre. He received this grant in 1828.

I found an excerpt from a lawsuit in which this land was in dispute: While I don’t necessarily like the lawsuit aspect, the history behind the land is fascinating and discussed. Here is a brief excerpt from the document (which I have if anyone is interested):

The ultimate issue in this dispute between the State of Texas (defendant below, by consent, and respondent here) and the plaintiffs, Luttes et al. (our petitioners) is the title to some 3,400 acres of mud flats or former sea bottom in Cameron County lying along, and alleged to be accretions to, the mainland or westerly edge of the long, narrow lagoon known as Laguna Madre, about fifteen or twenty miles north of Port Isabel and the mouth of the Rio Grande River, and about fifteen miles south of Port Mansfield on the Laguna. The Laguna, of course, lies between the mainland on the west and, on the east, the long, narrow, sandy island called Padre, the eastwardly side of which latter is the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

The flats about to the west upon a line of the upland or mainland characterized by a steep angle of elevation, although the altitude of the land along this line is hardly enough to justify the name ‘bluff line’ which the parties call it. This line was the original easterly boundary of the now admittedly valid 1829 grant of lands on the mainland from the Mexican State of Tamaulipas to Manuel de la Garza Sosa, to whose rights the petitioners-plaintiff have succeeded. The grant, known as Potrero de Buena Vista, stipulated as its easterly or seaward boundary the westerly ‘shore’ of the Laguna.


Special thanks for all the research to: Maria Rebecca Lara-Garcia. All content used with permission