El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750 Page: 30
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
on the open range, moving with the herds from place
to place. They built crude lean-to shelters near water
and wood, where they cooked their own food, usually
atole (a corn meal mush), beef or wild game, and pinole,
which is a powder made of toasted corn ground on a
metate and mixed with cinnamon and sugar or piloncillo
Laws Regulating the Cattle Industry
As a consequence of the incredibly rapid growth
of the cattle industry in Mexico, the mesta code of
1537 was revised in 1574, and in this form it regulated
cattle raising in South Texas until December 23, 1823,
when the assembly of Nuevo Santander (soon to be-
come the state of Tamaulipas) passed a law governing
the holding of corridas de caballada mestetinas (round-
ups to capture wild cattle and horses) between the Rio
Grande and the Nueces River. To hold a corrida, one
had to get a license from the governing body wherever
the corrida was to be held, and warn the neighboring
ranchers so that they could join in. Only ranchers or
those who had grazed stock on the lands could get a
license, and they had to file reports after the roundup.
Cattle already branded were delivered to their owners,
and the remainder belonged to those who found them,
after paying the local ayuntamiento (local government)
two reales for each head. These roundups could be held
only between October i and December 31 each year, a
law which remained in effect until 1831 (Graf 1942).
Spanish-Mexican Contributions to the
U.S. Cattle Industry
By the end of the Establishment Period of the ranch
in South Texas, the elements of ranching, having
evolved over eight centuries, were securely in place.
Ranches in the northern Mexican states, which were
larger than an)y in the United States at that time, intro-
duced the knowledge and skills to transform dr); arid
lands into productive ranches that would one day help
to feed large populations. With the ranch came the
highly skilled vaquero and his cattle-working techniques
-including branding, ear marking, seasonal roundups,
cattle roping, long cattle drives, the problems of cattle
rustling and the laws designed to end it, and the tech-
nique called "brush popping" (chasing cattle through
shrubs and thorny brush). He also brought his equip-
ment, including the vaquero saddle, the rawhide lariat,
the braided horsehair rope (cabresto), the garrocha, the
branding iron, chappareras, the bridle bits and reins,
hackamores (jicimas), spurs, and the vaquero's costume
Challenges to Early Ranchers
Ranching was a way of life in early South Texas,
but it was by no means idyllic. Those who chose
to live on the haciendas faced the threat of violence
from two different sources: Indians and Anglo Texans.
Indians, understandably hostile at their loss of terri-
tory, constantly raided ranches in the region from the
late 1700S until 1872, the year of the last documented
Indian raid of a ranch in South Texas. Warlike tribes
from the north-particularly the Comanches and the
Lipan Apaches, who had acquired horses and become
skilled horsemen-proved a major threat to ranchers.
The ranchers living closer to the Rio Grande, who
could escape to Reynosa, Mier, Revilla, Camargo, and
Laredo, were safer from Indian attacks than were those
living great distances from the river. Those living far
from these villages were at the mercy of the Indians.
During the first decade of the i8oos, for instance, the
Dolores hacienda suffered a number of Indian raids and
many of its inhabitants were killed. In 1814, a tower was
built there in an effort to protect the settlers, but four
years later, Dolores had to be abandoned because of
the intensity of the attacks. It was re-occupied in 1830,
but destroyed completely in the 185os. Still, the last re-
corded murder by Indians in Zapata County occurred
on the Dolores lands in 1888. Alejandro Vidaurri, Jr.,
was killed while herding cattle on the northern section
of the grant (Fish 1991).
At one time in the 184os, only seven of the forty-
seven ranches in the Laredo area were occupied be-
cause of the threat of Indian attacks. Even the in-
habitants of the villa of Laredo were not immune to
the warlike Indians. In spite of many strong pleas to
the Mexican officials, Laredo never received military
30 El Rancho in South Texas
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Matching Search ResultsView 73 pages within this book that match your search.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Book.
Graham, Joe S. El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28328/m1/42/?q=el%20rancho: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.