Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000 Page: 8
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Candelaria is a tiny, secluded village
located on the banks of the Rio
Grande River in remote northwest
Presidio County where the pavement
of Farm Road 170 abruptly comes to an
end. Isolated from the outside world by
the Sierra Vieja Mountains, Candelaria
lies in a Chihuahuan Desert valley watered
by the Rio Grande River near a
point where the southern Rocky Mountains
meet the vast Sierra Madre of
Mexico. The town was originally called
La Gallina, meaning, in Spanish, "the
chicken." It cannot be said with certainty
how long the village has been in
existence. The archaeological record
points to human occupation of the
Candelaria area as long ago as the archaic
stage about 6000 B.C. Also, there
is credible evidence that Jumano Indians
lived in or near Candelaria in 1680
when an expedition commanded by the
Spanish explorer Juan Dominguez de
Mendoza passed nearby. One of the oldest
buildings in the village is the Catholic
Church. Its date of establishment
remains unclear, but the old church bell
bears a casting date of 1881. Sometime
in the late 19th century, an unknown
party of engineers came to La Gallina
and renamed the village Candelaria.
Their inspiration is said to have come
from a beautiful Mexican girl they
found living there.
The Mexican Revolution
Beginning in 1910, during a decade
of terrible destruction, more than a
million Mexicans perished in a bloody
civil war now remembered as the Mexican
Revolution. The uprising had its
beginnings not far from Candelaria,
about 40 miles down river at Ojinaga,
Chihuahua, when small landowners
took up arms to prevent their property
from being seized by a group of powerful
hacendados, including the Terrazas
family. In those days the Terrazas were
not only the largest single land owners
in Mexico, but also in all of Latin
America, and they hoped to profit from
the sale of the land in advance of the
A Big Bend Borderland Community
With a Colorful But Little Known Past
construction of the Kansas City, Mexico,
and Orient railroad across Chihuahua.
Within two years, disorder spread across the
muddy Rio Grande River to the remote, isolated
communities of the Texas Big Bend.
Candelaria was home to approximately 540
residents who suddenly found themselves
thrust into a war raging just across the river,
only a mile away, where pitched battles raged
in Candelaria's sister village San Antonio
del Bravo, Chihuahua.
In early 1914, Pancho Villa's dreaded
Division of the North captured the vital
border port of Oj inaga and, for a time, Villa
dominated the Mexican side of the Big Bend
border. More than half of the inhabitants
of Candelaria fled their homes on the river
seeking the safety of Marfa, Alpine, or El
Paso. Most never returned. J.J. Kilpatrick
and his brother, Dawkins, owned and operated
the general merchandise store in
Candelaria from 1910 until the late 1940s.
HERITAGE * 8 * SUMMER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000, periodical, Summer 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45389/m1/8/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.