Communities - Willacy County, TX

Communities

El Sauz is a ranching community and game preserve on Farm Road 497 some thirteen miles east of Raymondville in Willacy County. Sauz is a variant of sauce, Spanish for "willow." The ranch is on the San Juan de Carricitos land grant, which was given to José Narciso Cavazos in 1781 by the Spanish government (see SPANISH TEXAS). He took possession of the land and stocked it with 900 cattle. Richard King claimed to have come across a deserted ranch named El Sauz in that vicinity in 1852 while riding north from the Rio Grande. According to some sources, another community named El Sauz was established around 1852 on Redfish Bay, had a post office from 1870 to 1875, and was moved to the current site after the storm of 1882. In 1881 Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy took ownership of much of the land in the grant, including El Sauz, which became a subdivision of the King Ranch. The settlement was a stage stand between Alice and San Antonio, and a post office by the name of Sauz was in operation there from 1893 to 1915. The El Sauz school district was established on March 6, 1925. In the 1950s, when the ranch was owned by the Atwood branch of the King family, the ranch encompassed 100,000 acres. The school district was still in operation in the mid-1950s. During the early 1990s several dwellings were maintained on the ranch. El Sauz made national headlines in November 1936, when two residents of San Perlita, Luther Blanton and his son John, disappeared while hunting on the ranch. Some locals claimed that the two were murdered by King Ranch fence riders, and that the Kleberg family covered up the incident. Enough of the area's residents threatened to enter the ranch to destroy property that Governor James Allred ordered a company of Texas Rangers to the area. Capt. Bill McMurray found no evidence of foul play, however, thus confirming the previous findings of Willacy county sheriff Howard Cragg.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1957).

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

Filigonia was at the junction of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and Farm Road 490 on the Hidalgo-Willacy county line, 1½ miles northeast of Hargill. The town was built by the Missouri Texas Land and Irrigation Company in an effort to develop the area. The company dug a well and erected a clubhouse to entertain and lodge prospective buyers. The clubhouse was located on what is now Farm Road 490 just north of the county line in Willacy County. A town began to spring up around the clubhouse and well, and in 1915 a post office was opened with Anna Richards as postmistress. The town is said to have been named after Filigonio Cuellar, a prominent resident. During its peak period the community supported a school, a dairy, two stores, and a garage. However, shortly after its founding the area experienced a serious drought and attacks by bandits. Among the victims killed by the bandits was Cuellar. Soldiers were stationed in the area to protect the townspeople, but the majority of residents left rather than face further hardships. The post office was closed in 1926 and moved to Hargill, and the settlement was apparently abandoned.

William E. Richards

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online

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Lasara (La Sara) is on State Highway 186, Farm Road 1015, and the Missouri Pacific line, eight miles west of Raymondville in western Willacy County. The land was part of the Las Mesteñas, Pititas, and La Abra and San Juan de Carricitos land grants. Lasara was laid out in 1924 and was named for Laura Harding and Sarah Gill, wives of early settlers William Harding and Lamar Gill. The Lasara school district was approved on March 18, 1925. A post office was established at the community in 1926, and in 1931 Lasara had eight stores. In 1933 it had an estimated 100 residents and four businesses. Lasara comprised the post office, a general store, and a grade school in 1947. By 1950 its population had increased to 150 and the number of businesses to ten. In 1987 Lasara consisted of a grain elevator, a school, two churches, two factories, and eight other businesses. The community's population was reported as 100 from 1971 to 1990.

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

LYFORD,TEXAS is on State Highway 448 and the Missouri Pacific line, between Farm roads 498 and 1921 in central Willacy County. It was named for William H. Lyford, attorney for the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. Before the town was founded, part of its future site had a lake known locally as Laguna Del Como Se Llama; the vicinity was known as the Como Se Llama area. In the early to middle 1700s, Spanish colonists settled along the Rio Grande and owned the three land grants in the Willacy County area. The grant on which Lyford was eventually built was the San Juan de Carricitos land grant. The first railroad through the area, the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway, built through on July 4, 1904, and was eventually bought by the Missouri Pacific in 1956. Employees of the Rock Island Company formed the Gulf Coast Irrigation Company, which with a capitalization of $500,000 bought 34,000 acres from the King Ranch for $9.00 an acre; Lyford was on this tract. Between 1904 and 1906 Lyford was a tent city, and in 1906 it was served by the grocery store of Hood and Schlecht. The Lyford Realty Company was organized, and the plat for Lyford was filed in Cameron County on March 19, 1907. Many of the early settlers were from Illinois and adjoining states. Pioneer Hall was built at Lyford in 1907; it was the first place for public worship, public school, and other gatherings. A post office also opened that year, and the Lyford Hotel was constructed in stages between 1907 and 1909. Reuben Deyo planted one of the first citrus orchards in the vicinity. In the early to middle 1900s Mexicans in Lyford were segregated; the leaders of Lyford set up a separate town for them so that they could "do and build as they wished." During the Mexican Revolution, when raiders sometimes crossed the United States-Mexico border, soldiers and Texas Rangers were stationed in Lyford in 1913 and 1914. In 1914 the town had 300 inhabitants, four general stores, a bank, a lumber company, a blacksmith, and a drugstore. A newspaper, the Lyford Gulf Current, was also in publication, with B. D. Stevenson as publisher. The community had a population of 600 in 1928. It grew steadily through the 1930s and in 1940 had a population of 1,150 and fifteen businesses. There was a small population decline between 1941 and 1950, but in 1968 its population was 1,541. In 1972 it was 1,425, and in 1976 Lyford reported forty-eight rated businesses. In 1990 it had a population of 1,674 and sixteen businesses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

NOPAL, TEXAS (Willacy County) was four miles east of the Laguna Madre and seventeen miles southeast of Raymondville in southeastern Willacy County. It was established about 1855 at a ranch headquarters on the Alice stage road and was a dispersed community in 1948. In the early 1990s there were no dwellings at the site. The name is Spanish for cactus.

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

PALO BLANCO, TEXAS (Willacy County). Palo Blanco is a ranch settlement on the King Ranchqv in Willacy County. The name is Spanish for "white stick."

Ruth Musgrave Coole

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

 Pan American Camp was east of Willamar in eastern Willacy County. The community was established in 1943 as a result of oil development in the vicinity. The Pan-American Company leased several area oilfields including the Willamar field southeast of Willamar. The Pan-American offices, a store, and houses for fifteen to twenty families made up the settlement of Pan American Camp in 1947. The community was not shown on the 1948 county highway map.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Willacy County News, February 13, 1941, July 29, 1943.

Ruth Musgrave Coole

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

Paso Real is nineteen miles southeast of Raymondville on the southern border of Willacy County and the northern bank of the Arroyo Colorado. The site served as a ferry crossing. Gen. Zachary Taylorqv crossed there when he was in the area during the Mexican War.qv A school, a store, and a post office served the community when the stage ran through the eastern part of the county. In 1948 there were three dwellings in Paso Real, and it served as a fishing point. Paso Real was a dispersed rural community in the early 1990s.

Ruth Musgrave Coole

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

Sebastian is nine miles south of Raymondville on State highways 413 and 448 and the Missouri Pacific Railroad on the southern border of Willacy County. The community, settled before 1906, was first known as Stillman but was renamed Sebastian around 1912 in honor of John Sebastian, vice president of the Rock Island Railroad Company, which helped to develop the area. In 1914 Sebastian had a population estimated at ninety, one grocer, one cattle breeder, and two general stores. In 1925 the community had a population of seventy-five; by 1927 it had 200 residents. In 1931 Sebastian had eighteen businesses, a post office, and an estimated population of 300. A railroad stop, various dwellings, a tourist camp, fifteen businesses, two churches, and seasonal industries were in Sebastian in 1948, when the estimated population was 400. In 1953 the population had increased to 500 and businesses to twenty-two. In 1969 Sebastian reported a population of 404 and thirteen businesses, and in 1990 it still had 404 residents but only seven businesses.

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

Willamar is on Farm roads 490 and 1420, ten miles southeast of Raymondville in central east Willacy County. It was named for Will Harding and Lamar Gill, who founded the town in 1921 on land belonging to descendants of the original grantee, José Narciso Cavazos. The Willamar school district was approved on March 9, 1923. In 1931 the community had two businesses, and in 1933 the population was estimated at twenty-five. In 1947 the name was used to refer to the railroad loading point, the school, the rich farming community, and the highly productive oilfield being developed by five or more major companies. That year the population was estimated at twenty-five, and one business was in operation. By 1950 Willamar had an estimated forty residents and two businesses. In 1967 the population was still estimated at forty, but there were no businesses. In 1980 the community had a school, a business, and a factory.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Alicia A. Garza

This information comes from the Texas State Historical Association
Handbook of Texas Online.

Copyright 2005-2008 David W. Pitt

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