The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 1
Redrawing the Southwestern Boundary,
JOSEPH RICHARD WERNE*
W HEN THE ORIGINAL UNITED STATES AND MEXICAN BOUNDARY COMMIS-
sion completed its survey from the Rio Grande to the Pacific
Ocean in 1857, the engineers who composed it were confident that the
line was correctly and permanently established. The monuments mark-
ing the boundary had been erected and the maps of the line finished.
For much of its length the international boundary ran through desolate
and uninhabited territory, and while there were numerous illegal cross-
ings of the border which presented problems for Mexico and the United
States, there was no question as to where the line ran. This began to
change, however, as ranches were established, mining deposits discov-
ered, and settlements along the line grew into sizeable communities.
This and the fact that the monuments were few and far between eventu-
ally led to a number of disputes, particularly along the Arizona-Sonora
border, and a little-known re-survey of the boundary in 1891-1896.'
An incident that drew considerable attention involved the location of a
ranch called Ssabe situated on the Sonoran side of the line. Its proprietor
* Joseph Richard Werne is professor of history at Southeast Missouri State University and au-
thor of "Surveying the Rio Grande, 1850-1853," SHQ, 94 (Apr., 1991), "Major Emory and Cap-
tain Jimenez: Running the Gadsden Line," Journal oJ the Southwest, 29 (Summer, 1987), "Partisan
Politics and the Mexican Boundary Survey, 1848-1853," SHQ, 90 (Apr., 1987), and "Pedro Gar-
cfa Conde el trazado de limites con Estados Unidos desde el punto de vista mexicano
(1848-1853)," Hzstona Mexicana, 36 (Juho-sept., 1986). The author wishes to express his grati-
tude to Professor David J. Weber of Southern Methodist University for his helpful comments on
Luis G. Zorrilla, Monumentacrn de la frontera norte en el szglo XIX, Nim. 5, Cuarta 6poca, Archz-
vo hst6rdro dilonitlzro mexicano (Mexico: Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, 1981), 15-23;
Paula Rebert, "Mapping the United States-Mexico Boundary, 1849-1 857 (Ph D. diss., University
of Wisconsin, 1994), 356, 366--369, 415-416; "Remarking the Mexican Boundary," Science, I
(Mar. 29, 1895), 349-350; Horacio Herrera, "Estudio sobre el limited Internacional terrestre de
los Estados Unidos de Norte Amdrica con la Repdblica Mexicana," Boletin de la Soczedad Mexicana
de Geografia y Estadistwa, 65 (1948), 186-187. See also William Hemsly Emory, Report on the United
States and Mexican Boundary Survey (2 vols.; Washington, D.C.: Nicholson, 1857, 1859, reprint,
Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1q87)
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. C1V, NO. 1
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/29/ocr/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.