HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In what is now Brownsville, historians believe there was once a colony of freed slaves.  

“There’s evidence that they came up the river and they formed an agricultural colony right here,” said Eugene Fernandez, History Central Director.  

It started when an English ship captain came into the port of Veracruz with slaves on board.

Valley historian Eugene Fernandez said the captain was confronted by the Spanish Navy and could not enter the country with slaves because slavery was outlawed.

The slaves were left at the mouth of the Rio Grande River and evidence suggests they traveled into what is present-day Southmost Brownsville. 

“There was evidence of human habitation that has been found out in this field out here over the years, to indicate that there were humans here,” Fernandez said  

Fernandez believes the colony flourished. However, a great flood overtook the river and wiped out a major portion of the colony.  

The inhabitants are believed to have traveled north toward San Antonio.  

“It is extremely important because it really gives a capsule version of the plight of the hardship that the slaves had during that era,” Fernandez said. “And, of course, their perseverance to survive in a bleak environment, because this was nowhere near several civilized back in those years.”

“It is another capsule in the patchwork of Texas history, in particular, the early years of the development of Texas, prior to statehood and all it showed who went over the trails who came into this land,” he said.