Heritage, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1995 Page: 21
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The John C. and Antonia Navarro Ross
Homestead: A Case Example of Survey
Efforts and Results
During the second quarter of the 19th
century Jose Antonio Navarro, a prominent
statesman and signer of the Texas
Declaration of Independence, petitioned
the Mexican government for a four-league
grant of land. In 1830, he selected his four
leagues on the Atascosa River. Ranching
operations on Navarro's four leagues began
within a brief period after its acquisition. In
1847, Theodore Gentilz, while on a trip to
the Laguna San Miguel, visited the Navarro
Ranch and reported the destruction of the
ranch buildings by Comanches seven years
earlier (Kendall 1974:114). Navarro, instrumental
in the formation of the county,
donated land for the first courthouse and
county seat, which was named Navatasco.
Navarro died in 1871, and an Agreement
pertaining to the disposition of his lands
was filed in Atascosa County.
Navarro's granddaughter Antonia
Navarro received a portion of her
grandfather's holdings in 1870, at the time
of her marriage to John Ross, an immigrant
from Scotland and the subsequent founder
of Rossville, Texas. Ross cleared and cultivated
the land, and around this time erected
the initial family dwelling (Site I.D. No.
133). The primary construction consisted
of a double-pen, center passage (dogtrot)
log house similar to the extant building
(Figure 1). Significantly, the double-notch
corner notching used in the construction
of the dwelling, while common in Mexico
and northern New Mexico, is rare in Texas
With the births of three of his seven
children between 1871 and 1878, an expansion
of the modest dwelling was undertaken.
Prior to the completion of the additions,
a fire apparently consumed a portion
of the dwelling's west pen. The rebuilding
and additions to the house were made with
load-bearing, sandstone walls with a partially
stucco exterior. The finished house,
(Figure 2), known locally as the "White
House" because of its color and grand size,
included the addition of a second floor
with a two-story porch. The complex also
included a detached log one-story rear
kitchen, and a stone spring house or "Indian
house" used for protection from Indian
raids (Hanna Bush, personal communication).
Other buildings once present at
the site consisted of corrals, barns, a dipping
vat, sheds, and worker's quarters. John
Ross lived in the house until his death in
000_ v 4 0 '
Above, Figure 1: The John Ross home in 1994 (photograph by Ralph Edward Newlan). Below, Figure 2:
The John Ross home in circa 1900 (photograph by Ralph Edward Newlan, from an original photograph in
possession of Hanna Bush, Rossville, Texas).
1925. Family members continued to occupy
the house until 1934, when extensive
hail damage forced them to demolish the
upper floor. After this time, the house
occasionally served as tenant quarters or as
a bunk house for various laborers. Remarkably,
165 years later, Navarro's descendants
continue to live, farm, and ranch on
portions of his original grant.
Long abandoned, the John Ross house
now remains a silent but powerful testimony
to the courage, dedication, and perseverance
of the pioneer settlers of
Atascosa County. It is through such survey
efforts, funded by the Texas Historical
Foundation, that we are able to identify,
record, and document these significant
resources -- vestiges of our multicultural
and multi-ethnic heritage -- for the future
References Cited In This Article
1978, "Texas Log Buildings: A Folk
Architecture". The University of Texas
Press, Austin, Texas.
* Kendall, Dorothy Steinbomer and
1974, "Gentilz: Artist of the Old West".
The University of Texas Press, Austin,
Ralph Newlan is an historic preservation consultant.
Kay Hindes is the chair of the Atascosa
County Historical Commission.
HERITAGE * SPRING 1995 21
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1995, periodical, Spring 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45410/m1/21/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.