The End of Escandon's Dreams

Recurring floods in the Rio Grande soon destroyed his early dream of building a permanent system of canals for irrigation. Efforts of the colonists thereafter centered on stock raising. Texas' great ranching industry began with the rapidly expanding herds that soon spread north across the Rio Grande. As herds multiplied, the need for additional pastureland became acute. Escandon continued to press for acceptance of his recommendations for further distribution of land to the colonists. His disappointment over delayed response by vice-regal officials was the beginning of a series of calamities.

After years of exposure in all kinds of weather, the tough old Spaniard's health began to fail. At the same time he was opposed and maligned by unscrupulous men who conspired to strip him of authority and prestige. A suit against him was in progress at the time of his death in 1770. Loyal friends said he had sacrificed his health, his family and a considerable part of his fortune in his undertaking in New Santander. "Only a man of valor," said one, "could have succeeded." Escandon was completely exonerated when the case ended in 1774. Restitution of the family estate was made to Manuel Ignacio de Escandon, who succeeded his father as El Conde II*.

Soldier, explorer and the greatest colonizer this hemisphere has known, Don Jose de Escandon fulfilled his obligations to the Crown and to his colonists so well that nearly all of the towns he founded are thriving today.

*The title of El Conde (count) ranked between baron and marquis.

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