ColONizing Projects ini reras
South of the Yueces, 1820-1845
LE ROY P. GRAF
DURING the years after Mexican independence the Nueces
River marked the boundary between the Mexican states
of Texas and Tamaulipas. Historical studies have made familiar
the story of the peopling of the country north of the Nueces.
In fact, the colonizing activity and success of Stephen F. Austin
and his neighbors are the staples of Texas colonial history. But
what about the territory-now part of Texas-between the
Nueces and the Rio Grande? Did the state of Tamaulipas, to
whom this land belonged, make an effort parallel to that of
Texas to introduce settlers into its unoccupied lands? If it did,
then why do these colonies not loom more prominently in the
history of later-day Texas? The answer to this last question
is found in the fact that all attempts to establish colonies in
this region failed. This study reports the melancholy story of
these failures, the reasons for which it will try to formulate
after examining the specific attempts.
The most striking difference between colonizing activities
in Texas and in the northern part of Tamaulipas is found in the
amount of unassigned land available for grants. The Spanish
authorities had distributed either as porciones or as larger
grants most of the desirable locations in this country.' The
remaining land, of little value even for stock raising, was com-
pletely unsuited for agriculture, the occupation in which most
foreign immigrants settling in northern Mexico wished to en-
gage. Salt-water marshes or quasi-desert land remote from an
easily available water supply were the unattractive offerings of
'See Map of Land Grants in the Lower Rio Grande in E. J. Foscue,
"Agricultural History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Region," Agricul-
tural History, VIII (1934), 129. Compare this map with the map of natural
vegetation regions in the same author's "The Natural Vegetation of the
Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas," Field and Laboratory, I (1932), 26.
Harbert Davenport, to whom I, like all students of the Rio Grande
country, am indebted, observes that Spanish grants covered not only the
lower reaches of the Rio Grande but also the right bank of the lower
Nueces. These Nueces titles have been lost and long since relinquished but
"would surely have been resurrected had settlements been attempted in
conflict with them, prior to 1836." Letter to L. P. G., October 10, 1945.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/. Accessed August 30, 2015.