History

This land was purchased by Pedro Zepeda in 1874 from Claxito Gomez and Benito Garcia, who purchased the land from Julian, Pilar and Catarina Villarreal, the heirs of Placido Villarreal. Placido inherited the land from his sister Maria Concepcion who was married to Jose Maria Villarreal. Jose Maria was the son of Pedro Villarreal, the original grantee of the San Pedro de los Carricitos land grant deeded to him by the King of Spain in 1784.

Pedro Zepeda and his brother Simon were the first Zepedas to come to the Encantada Ranch. They came as Mexican soldiers to Matamoros from Villa Aldama, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. When they left the military in 1859 they crossed the river and came to La Encantada Ranch, which was part of the "San Pedro de los Carricitos" land grant. Pedro and Simon were working with cattle, drying the meat to keep it from spoiling. By drying the meat it could be kept for long periods of time and be easily transported. Pedro took some of his meat to Miguel Fernandez, a merchant in Brownsville, Texas. The Civil War had started in the United States and the troops were needing food supplies. Mr. Fernandez wanted this meat for the Union Soldiers which had their ships off the coast of Port Isabel.

Photo courtesy of Cameron County Historical Commission

He told Pedro he would set him up in business if he could provide meat for these troops and also for anyone else wanting to purchase it. The demand for their product enabled Pedro and Simon to make a good living, as business was very good because of the war.

In 1862 Pedro and Simon Zepeda brought their brothers Ruperto, Andres Jr, Felipe, Lazaro and their father, Andres, fromVillaldama, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to La Encantada Ranch.

In 1874 Pedro started the Zepeda Cemetery on his ranch. The custom at that time was to have a cemetery on your land for your family and the families of the people who worked on the ranch. In the large "boveda" or tomb the first people buried were his parents and his brothers.

Pedro and Simon Zepeda's wives both inherited land on the Encantada Ranch in 1879 after the death of Pedro Esparza. Pedro Zepeda already had his ranch in another section of the San Pedro Grant, where the Zepeda cemetery is, so he and his wife Luisa sold their part of the inheritance to Simon Zepeda and his wife, Rita. They each had their own ranch where they raised their families.

Simon and Rita Zepeda had one son, Manuel. They have descendants still living on the ranch in El Ranchito, Texas. Pedro and Luisa Zepeda had three sons and one daughter. Their sons Enrique and Carlos married back into the Esparza Family. Enrique Zepeda married Eloisa Esparza, the daughter of Roman Esparza and Petra Lerma. Carlos Zepeda married Eloisa's cousin, Olivia Esparza, the daughter of Antonio Esparza and Maria Hilaria Reyes. Pedro Jr. and Francisca had no children.

When Pedro Sr. died in 1903 he was buried in the "boveda." Luisa died in 1912 and was also buried in the Zepeda "boveda". After Luisa's death the land was divided between her three living sons. Pedro Jr, Enrique, and Carlos Zepeda.

In 1919 Pedro Zepeda, Jr., his cousin Carlos Lerma Esparza, both Sheriff Deputies, and three other friends died in an ambush. Pedro was buried in the Zepeda "boveda", and his cousin, Carlos, was buried down the road in the Esparza Cemetery. Since Pedro never married or had a family his part of the land was divided between Enrique and Carlos. They both raised their families on the ranch. Enrique died in 1921 and Eloisa, his wife in 1958. Carlos died in 1947 and Olivia in 1926. They are all buried in the "boveda".

Carlos and Olivia Zepeda had three boys: Pedro, Eduardo and Gilberto, and one girl, Maria Luisa. Pedro, their oldest son, married Evangelina De Leon. They had five boys and three girls. Pedro and Evangelina are both deceased and are buried in the Zepeda Cemetery. One of their sons, Carlos, died as a baby and is buried in the cemetery. Their oldest son, Roy is in charge of the Zepeda Cemetery and still lives at the Zepeda ranch.

Carlos and Olivia Zepeda's son, Eduardo, married Anita Leal. They had two girls, Olivia and Celeste. Eduardo and Anita are living in San Benito. Maria Luisa Zepeda died in 1975 and is buried at the Zepeda Cemetery.

Gilberto is the youngest son of Carlos and Olivia Zepeda. He married Clara Williams. They still live in El Ranchito in 1999. They had three children, Carlos, Gilberto Jr. and Diana. Their son Carlos died in 1987 at the age of 34 and is buried in the Zepeda Cemetery. He was an actor who traveled the world acting in Shakespearean pays. He was also a creative artist. When he became ill he came home to the Valley to be with his family. Before his death he designed his unique grave marker which depicted his life of happiness and sadness, like the plays he acted in; his favorite being "Hamlet." His grave inscription, "Goodnight, sweet prince, and flight of angels sing thee to thy rest!" is taken directly from the play. It is an old custom for those who die to be surrounded by the things that made them happy.

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