Las Escobas Ranch

The Founding of Las Escobas Ranch

        Don Felipe purchased large tracts of land from descendents of the original porcion grantees.  Las Escobas Ranch was founded around the 1850's. The main headquarters of the ranch is located in porción # 109, original grantee being Joseph Salvador Garcia, of the jurisdiction of Cd. Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Porcion #110 consisted 6,288.3 acres. The original grantee  was Santiago de la Garza.  Porción # 111 consisted of 6,198.5 acres granted to the original grantee Jose Antonio Guajardo

          Las Escobas is named for a plant called escobilla which was a native plant in the area at that time.  It's a bitter herbal plant. The land was principally arid brush land.  

        Because there  was no wire available at the time, borders were marked to show boundaries but it did not keep the livestock in or out. Later mesquite wood was used to build "corrales de leña". Corrales de leña are a type of corral built with an interwoven mesquite log wall. Two posts were crossed and logs of wood were placed at the base of the posts to hold them in place.  

    By 1860, Don Felipe (Papa Felipe) had moved his family to Las Escobas Ranch . There were six houses and six families living at the ranch consisting of 25 males and 15 females.  Construction of the headquarters main house began.

    By the early 1880s Don Felipe had established himself as one of the largest ranchers in Starr County. In about three decades, he had bought most of the porciones # 69, 103, 109, 110, 111, eight state scripts of 640 acres each, three tracts of the Cuevitas land grant; one of 4,500 acres and the others of 340 acres and 31 acres with house, corrals, and a well, two other state scripts of 385.5 and 393 acres or a total of 46,450 acres.

     According to Starr County tax rolls from 1866 and 1884, the last year Don Felipe Guerra appeared on the rolls, he maintained an average herd of 280 horses, 422 cattle, 1,564 sheep, and 528 head of goats. His best year was 1883 when he had 641 head of horses , 1,404 head of cattle, 1800 head of sheep, and 500 head of goats. He also was listed as having five carriages. His net worth for the 1884 year including all livestock, land, and personal items was $60,480.

     In 1894, Las Escobas was partitioned with Doña Josefa's (Felipe's wife, my great great grandmother) five children receiving most of porciones #109, 110, 111. Descendents of Jose Felipe and Josefa still retain the headquarters of Las Escobas today.

    Click on  Jose Felipe Hinojosa Guerra button to view more information.

    

Old abandoned "canoga"

Construction of the Main Headquarter's Ranch House

     Jose Felipe began building the ranch headquarters in 1850s when he moved from Roma to Las Escobas Ranch. The ranch house was built in two sections. It took 20 years to complete the ranch headquarters. The second section of the house was finished in 1880. The house has the date inscribed with initials, "4/18/1870 , FGH y JG de Guerra" imbedded into the beam. According to my uncle Uvaldo Salinas, timbers used to support the concrete ceiling were hauled in from Corpus Christi by ox cart. The lime stock used on the walls was carried in from Cuevitas about 12 miles away. The walls of the house are about two feet thick and help keep the house cool even in the hottest of weather. Thick double doors made intrusion by bandits virtually impossible. The stone mason who constructed the house was Rafael Fuentes and his three sons; Benito, Feliciano, and Adolfo. Jose Felipe and Maria Josefa made it their family home and raised their children there.

    The Anastacia Guerra and Salvador Salinas family descendents still retain the headquarters home of Las Escobas Ranch today. My mother, Margarita G. Salinas and my father Ruben J. Salinas lived in the main house for a short time after their marriage. My parents got married and my grandparents house was not big enough to accomodate them so they moved into the big house with their uncle Salvador (my grandfather's brother). I have very fond memories of my visits to main house and running around the side porches of the house. I sat at Tía Tacha's kitchen table as a young child and enjoyed her delicious food and conversations. It is wonderful that the main house is still standing today after almost 150 years since it was built. It needs repairs and I am hoping maybe someday it can become a historical land mark.

Resources: Guide to Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in South Texas,   Texas General Land Office, Archives and Records Division, 2003.

Descendents of Jose Felipe Guerra Hinojosa & Maria Josefa Gonzalez Garcia, Researched by Dario R. Garcia and Prepared by Raul J. Guerra, Jr., Feb. 6, 2001.

Interview: Uvaldo Salinas, owner/manager of headquarters home.

"El Mesteño", Homero Vera, May, 2001.

Starr County Census: 1870, 1880.

Tax rolls: 1866-1844.