Introduction

 

Pioneer families who helped Don Jose de Escandon settle his towns on the Lower Rio Grande (1749-1755) had preferred status compared with settlers arriving later. When allocation of lands for agriculture and ranching at last was carried out, the largest and best tracts went to primitive settlers, who had been in the colony six years or more, or to their heirs. Old settlers, residents for more than two years but less than six, received less land suitable for agriculture. Agregados, settlers who had migrated within two years, were eligible for pastureland only.

Considerable pride and leadership was attached to the titles established during the 1767 Visitation by the Royal Commission. Today a great many families on both sides of the Rio Grande proudly trace their lineage to the sturdy pioneers who

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settled Camargo, Reynosa, Mier and Revilla (Old Guerrero) on the south bank, and Dolores, Laredo and Rio Grande City on what is now the Texas side. Dolores, below Laredo near San Ygnacio, vanished after repeated Indian attacks.

As colonizer and governor of Colonia del Nuevo Santander, Escandon founded a total of 23 villas, most in northern Mexico. He chose his Rio Grande colonists with the utmost care. He knew they would be exposed to the greatest danger from Indians. Most came in oxcart caravans from rancherias in Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, owned considerable livestock and were accustomed to the perils of frontier life. Natives of New Spain, all were of pure Spanish descent, and a surprising number were of noble lineage.