Dou't eiee :Me h
MALCOLM D. McLEAN
THE following amusing incident in the fencing of the
open range originated from a simple attempt to separate
the cattle from the corn, but it proved even more difficult
to corral the settlers themselves.'
It was springtime two centuries ago in the tiny frontier vil-
lage of San Fernando (now known as San Antonio, Texas), and
the pioneer Spanish settlers were planting their corn. Don Juan
Leal Goras, who held the resounding title of Perpetual Senior
Councilman and Ordinary Alcalde (by order of His Majesty,
the King of Spain), surveyed the scene with the benevolent
solicitude of a patriarch. Ever since he had been chosen by the
Judge of the Indies to lead this little band of immigrants on
their perilous journey from the Canary Islands to the province
of Texas, he had felt a special responsibility for their welfare.
Farming lands had been distributed to the settlers in 1732,
and, by common consent, they had all cooperated in the building
of a stockade to protect their field adjoining the village, but
during the course of the next three years some of the posts had
been removed, and now this year's crop would surely be dam-
aged by livestock unless something were done to prevent it.
Consequently Alcalde Leal had issued an order for all the settlers
to get together to repair the stockade within fifteen days.
When this order was published, some of the settlers said that
it would be inconvenient to have the fence where Leal wanted
it; so Leal called them together and had them vote on two pos-
sible sites: either along the irrigation canals next to the village
or along the edge of the land belonging to Joseph Cabrera,
which was about four hundred "fathoms" from the village, as
Leal expressed it, reverting to the seafaring language of the
Canary Islanders. When the votes were counted, it was discov-
'This account is based upon official records on file in the Bexar Archives of the
University of Texas Library, expediente: Juan leal goras v. Martin Lorenzo de
Armas, Juan Curbelo, and Francisco Joseph de Arocha, April 14-November 3,
1755. A translation of the complete expediente is available in the Bexar Archives
Translations, Volume VI, pp. 83-168. Typescript copies are on file in the University
of Texas Archives and in the Bexar County courthouse.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/. Accessed February 26, 2015.