Saturday, October 7, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Descendants of the original grantee of the Potrero del Espiritu Santo Land Grant awarded by the Spanish Crown in 1781 to Jose Salvador De la Garza want the State Historical Commission to place a marker on the remaining strip of land that once was part of a vast tract of  59.5-leagues of land (284,415.8 acres).

Within that tract now lie the cities of Brownsville, San Benito, Harlingen, La Feria and most of the land from the Rio Grande to the Arroyo Colorado. The original boundaries of the grant included the site of Rancho Viejo and the Ft. Brown Military installation. It is also recognized as the first ranch established north of the Rio Grande (Rancho Viejo).

The Spanish Crown in granted the land to De la Garza some 236 years ago and – after years of land disputes, wars, and legal wrangling that stretched over that period – only a seven mile-plus long, 300-foot wide strip of land now known as the De Los Santos-Vera Strip remains. However , this is the only section of land that remains in the hands of the descendants of the original grantee, a direct link to the days before there was a Texas, a Cameron County or a Brownsville.

That in itself is noteworthy since the United States had come into being in 1776, 241 years ago, only seven years before the Crown issued De la Garza title to the land. Also noteworthy is that the grant predated the 1836 establishment of the Republic of Texas by 55 years, and the annexation of Texas into the United States in 1855 by 64 years.

The boundaries of the grant lay between the Rio Grande on the south and the Arroyo Colorado on the north, bordered on the east by three separate land grants; on the south by the Potrero of San Martin, the Potrero de Santa Isabel, and the Potrero de Buena Vista; on the north also abutting the Arroyo Colorado. The Espiritu Santo land grant’s western boundary extended from the Rio north to the Arroyo Colorado. (See graphic attached)

The descendants of the original grantee and tenants continued to occupy and hold absolute possession of said tract, never having abandoned it at any time because of Indian incursions, down to the approach of the U. S. Army in 1846; and all government dues were regularly paid by the parties interested. [Confirmed by Legislature, Act of February 10, 1852. Patented June 21, 1859; No. 968, Vol. 12. General Land Office File San Patricio 1-432.]

Today, after countless legal disputes, land sales and transfers of property between numerous parties, all that is left of the original 284,415.8 acres granted in 1781 in the hands of the original grantee’s descendants, is that strip of land now known as the De Los Santos-Vera Strip. Unlike other sites of similar age, this land has never left the descendants of the original owner who received the land 236 years ago. (See genealogy graphic. Click to enlarge.)

Virtually all of the ancestors and descendants of the original settlers who lived and ranched on this land – in a straight line of decent from Blas de la Garza Falcon through Salvador de la Garza, his daughter Doña Estefana de la Garza Goseacochea, her sons Sabas Cavazos and Juan Cortina down through Andrea de los Santos Vera, daughter Amelia de los Santos Vera de Leon (deceased) son Ramon de Leon Jr. (deceased), daughter Nora de Leon Ramirez, and her brother Ernesto de Leon and their offspring – have remained loyal stewards to their heritage and history.

The strip lies 2.35 miles North of Highway 281 (Military Highway) on New Carmen Road that runs between 281 and Farm to Market Road 1732. The marker would be 1.4 miles south of FM 1732 at the entrance of Resaca de la Palma State Park and World Birding Center.

The state park and the state has acquired an easement to establish the birding center that required them closing that section of Old Carmen Road where the property is located. The seven-mile-plus, 300-foot wide, strip actually runs from the Rio Grande south of Military Highway, across FM 1732, and north to I-69E adjacent to the Town of Rancho Viejo. (See graphic.)

One of the main proponents of the marker is none other than former City of Brownsville commissioner Ernesto de Leon who says that recognizing the importance of the Espiritu Santo Gant – what is left of it – has been a concern of the extended descendants of the original grantee. Among those are Oliveiras, Treviños, De Leons, Veras, Tijerinas, Facons, Cavazos, a veritable Who's Who of South Texas history.

"This is the foundation of our South Texas history," he said. "We have to let the future generations and visitors to our area where our roots lie."

De Leon is being assisted in the task of acquiring and placing the historical marker at the entrance to the Resaca De la Palma State Park and Wold Birding Center by Gene Fernandez, Brownsville Old City Cemetery Coordinator and Historic Brownsville Museum Site Manager. He is also a member of the Cameron chair of the Cameron County Historical Commission. Under Texas law, the county commission must endorse and recommend the request.


Anonymous said...

Do not forget to include the Esparza family. That family also has considerable genealogical research documents that ascertain their claim to the Espiritu Santo Land Grant. Their research goes back to Marcos Alonzo de la Garza Arcon.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like pure vanity to me. This land was broken up and sold off many many years ago and now the family is trying to claim a faint glimmer of former glory way way to late. In other words, who but the family gives a shit!

Unknown said...

Tejano's give a shit, Justice is the word which elludes your voacabulay.

Unknown said...

Best of Luck to this family for trying to keep it original and available for their generations !

Anonymous said...

I, give a Big Shit if that's what you like...Last Name Cortinas...History dumb ass... Texas History, no faint glimmer of former glory my tio Cheno's Blood, Sweat, and Tears stolen land and his Soldiers. Read up it will help your ignorant tendecies...enjoy! & Let's hope you find vanity in yourself. Tejano history at it's best.