The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
For years the six settlements had comprised the largest concentration
of population on the northern frontier, and they numbered about 8,ooo
inhabitants at the beginning of the Mexican period. El Paso del Norte
and San Lorenzo were largely criollo, that is, composed of persons of
Spanish descent born in America, while the others were predominantly
Indian, although Socorro had a significant criollo and mestizo popula-
tion. El Paso del Norte was the largest settlement, with a greater num-
ber of residents than the others combined.3
For more than a century El Paso del Norte, roughly midway between
Chihuahua and Santa Fe, had served as a commercial center and way
station on the Camino Real. Stock raising flourished on the nearby
haciendas and ranchos, lands owned by wealthy Pasefio families, as did
agriculture on the ejidos, or communally owned lands lying along both
banks of the river and belonging to the five downriver settlements-
"los pueblos de abajo." A dam across the Rio Grande and a series of
acequias provided an ample supply of water for the fertile soil. Grains,
fruits, and vegetables were grown in abundance, and the vineyards
produced the best wine and brandy in Mexico, as almost every traveler
who came through the area had observed. The cottonwoods on the
village ejidos furnished the settlers with timber, and the salt deposits
north of the river were of sufficient size to supply both New Mexico
and Chihuahua.4 The river was thus a unifying force that tied this re-
gion together and gave it a large measure of self-sufficiency.
Although the El Paso settlements had been linked administratively
in the Chihuiahuan Acquisition (El Paso, 1971), 131; Paul Horgan, (;eat Rave?: The Rio
Grande in Noith American Histo,y (2 vols.; New York, 1954), II, 786.
SHubeit Howe Bancroft, History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530-1888 (San Francis-
co, 1889), 30oo-301. In view of Bancroft's use of the term "El Paso district" on page 300,
he is referring to the six settlements south of the river when he uses the term "El Paso"
on page 3ol. A population figule of 8,495 for the six settlements and three ranchos in the
1830s is given in J[os]j A[gustin] de Escudeo, Notca.s estadilluas del estado de Chi-
huahua (Mexico City, 1834), 77. (The Escudero phrase "son por todos. i villa, 6 pueblos, y
33 ranchos" Is a misprint It should lead "1 villa, 5 pueblos, y 3 ranchos." El Real and San
Lorenzo ale one and the same; the full name of ,an Lorenzo Is El Real San Lorenzo.) A
document in the Juirez Archives, dated Novembel 2, 1833, Reel 4, frame 144, shows El
Paso del Norte with a population of 5,8ol out of a total population of 9,139 for the six
4"Description of the most notable characteristics of the settlement of El Paso del Rio
del Norte . . . Sept., 1773," Charles Wilson Hackett ked.), Hi.stoical Documents relating
to New Mexico, Nueva fizcaya, and Approaches thereto, to 1773, Collected by Adolph
F. A. Bandelier and Fanny R. Bandelie? (3 vols; Washington, D C., 1923-1937), III, 507;
Alexander de Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain ..., trans. John
Black (4 vols.; London, 1811), II, 317; Escudero, Noticias estadistzcas, 163; Josd Maria Ponce
de Le6n to the ayuntannento of the Pueblo del Paso, Chihuahua, Feb. 13, 1824, Juarez
Archives, Reel 3, frame 5.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/22/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.