The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920 Page: 92
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92 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
at a few points, however, and here the Indians, having an accurate
knowledge of the country and no regard for international lines,
crossed and recrossed at will. From El Paso downward to Pre-
sidio del Norte, more than 350 miles by the sinuosities of the
stream, the river makes its way through alternating gorges and
Along its course from the mouth to El Paso there is altogether
a considerable amount of rich soil adapted to cultivation when
.slightly irrigated. A strip of such land from five to ten miles
wide extends almost continuously for 100 miles southeastward from
El Paso; between Roma and Rio Grande City, Edinburgh and
Brownsville, are even richer belts, while from Laredo to Bellville
are occasional flats which could be irrigated.'
Number and Character of the Population.-After the Mexican
War, a few American settlers, encouraged by the somewhat meager
protection of Texas Rangers and of the United States troops, be-
gan to move into this No-Man's-Land between the Nueces and the
Rio Grande and establish their ranches. More of them, preferring
the trading advantages of the immediate borders of Mexico, pushed
across this region to the banks of the river. A large number of
Mexicans, too, returned to their former homes in the Rio Grande-
Nueces region, or settled along the bottoms of the left bank of the
Rio Grande. Unfortunately a great many Mexican criminals and
political misfits made their way into this border region, and thither
-came a considerable number of American desperadoes. But at no
time previous to 1860 was the population within a strip of country
300 miles wide, and extending from the mouth of the Rio Grande
to El Paso, at all numerous.2
Settlements on the Mexican side, though less sparse, were by
no means dense along the lower part of the river. As one ascended
the stream the population gradually decreased, vanishing almost
entirely in the arid mountains of northwestern Nuevo Le6n and
northern Coahuila and Chihuahua. Moreover, it was wretchedly
1This description is based mainly upon Major Emory's report of the
survey of 1849-53, in House Ex. Doc. 135, 34th Cong., 2d Sess. Other
valuable references are, F. L. Olmsted, A Journey Through Temas (New
York, 1857); Cora Montgomery, Eagle Pass (New York), 1852.
'There were probably 25,000 in this section in 1860, of which 80 or 90
per cent. were Mexicans. U. S. Uensus, 1860; Olmsted, op. cit., 165;
House Ex. Doc. 52, 36th Cong., 34-35, 39-40, 41-43.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920, periodical, 1919; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101075/m1/98/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.