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Throwback Thursday: The Beginnings of Brownsville

Throwback Thursday

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Let us go back to the 19th century to the year 1848. It was the time of the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that gave this land open to colonization. In order to get a true picture of what went into making of Brownsville we have to go back to the year 1781. It was the year of the formation of the Espiritu Santo Grant. It covered a land area of a quarter million acres all the way from the Rio Grande River to the Arroyo Colorado. That land was given to Jose Salvador De La Garza by the king of Spain.

There was very little settlement by European colonists in this part of the country for a good reason. Prior to Brownsville’s establishment, Matamoros was establishing and was designated as pastor lands for the Villa of Matamoros. When Matamoros started going under the power of the Republic of Mexico problems as to the land ownership began. Matamoros had the right to incorporate lands to expropriate lands within a certain distance from its town square. Those encroached upon the original Espiritu Santo grant and that was the portion right by the river. There was great confusion because a lot of  people that were involved in the Mexican-American War thought that it was similar to other conquests by military victory in the United States at the time and that was not true. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo allowed for the preexisting Spanish land grants and the ownership thereof so there was no conquest by war.

When General Zachary Taylor came to this area in 1846, that is when the battle began to establish a hard border for the United States. There was precedent for that because in the land ownership of this region this was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase that was held by France. In those documents it clearly states the Rio Grande River as the border separating it from new Spain. Also, there was a mention of the Rio Grande as being the hard border by treaty after the battle of San Jacinto. It was taken care of and established by General Taylor coming back. The war between Mexico and the United States took place and then it was firmly established that this land was part of the United States and part of Texas.

As the years went on lands were trading hands by the second in this part of the country. They had to establish though the difference between the old and new Spain land grants and the new Republic of Mexico land grants in the area. On the horizon was the coming of the railroad in 1904. That was what firmly planted south Texas into a growth mode because it gave the region transportation in and out for all agricultural products and everything that went into the building of cities. In 1910 was the emergence of the Mexican Revolution and Brownsville was center stage. Military posts were established and activated. There was all kinds of hustle and commerce at the time of the Mexican Revolution and into the first world war. What we see here now is the result of so much effort by the people that came to colonize to live and to build their.

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