Residential Segregation in Two Early
West Texas Towns
A NGLO SETTLEMENT OF SOUTH AND WEST TEXAS INVOLVED THE SOCIAL
and economic subordination of the Mexican population with an
associated segregation of Mexicans from Anglos in the towns that devel-
oped.' Pauline Kibbe has described the resulting residential patterns typi-
fying west and south Texas settlements prior to World War II:
The usual pattern is for Latin Americans to live, more or less, in one section of
town. .... In smaller towns, this section is usually set apart from the other resi-
dential sections by a railroad track, a highway, or perhaps a river. As a rule, the
"Mexican colony" is devoid of paved streets, sewer lines, frequently even electric
power, gas mains, and garbage disposal service. One can spot such a "colony" or
section in almost every case; it is "on the wrong side of the tracks."'
However, given different settlement histories and economic functions,
it is reasonable to expect that patterns of residential segregation varied.
Fort Davis and Alpine, adjacent county seats only twenty-five miles apart
in the Big Bend region, offer a test of this premise. Of more importance
substantively is whether the amount of existing residential segregation
affected the relative position of Mexicans in a given locale.
If residential segregation is an important precondition of the subordi-
nation of a minority group, one would expect that Mexicans would have
been significantly better off in early Texas towns characterized by low
levels of residential segregation. As the marked differences between
early Anglos and Mexicans were the cause of, rather than the result of,
*Paul Wright is an associate professor of geography and sociology at Sul Ross State University
S"Anglo" is used here for persons of unmixed European or Middle Eastern heritage.
"Mexican" is used to describe persons of Mexican heritage because this population was culturally
much closer to Mexico than to the United States during the time period under consideration.
2Pauline Kibbe, Latin Amerscans in Texas (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
1946), 123-124 (quotation).
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. CII, NO. 3
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed December 26, 2014.