Military Plaza in San Antonio, 1885 ca.

Celebrate Tejano Heritage

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La Medina

La Medina

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Introduction

The legacy of the Tejano settlers of “La Medina” in South Bexar County, Texas, is steeped in deep ranching traditions, “Villa” (early towns), roots, and a very frontier identity.

For generations, these Tejanos came from the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Nuevo Santander New Spain.  Central to their existence was their frontier ranching and villa experiences which provided them with independent and self-reliant character.

These early Texas pioneer settlers came prepared to face the challenges and opportunities of La Medina. This provided them with the abilities to deal with the native Indians, harness the river, champion the longhorns and wild mustangs.

This is a history of La Medina from the late 1700s to the late 1800s. This project provides us with a view of one of the first ranch communities in the state beginning with the secularization of the missions in the 1780s to the late century and beyond. This place became a largely Tejano development that they considered “Nuestro”, ours.

Also, the resulting pioneering and ranching lead to the creation of several towns along the banks of the Medina River; Buena Vista, Carmen, Garza’s Crossing, Losoya, and Von Ormy. Most of these towns developed from the ranching community in the late 1700s and became social, economic, and political hubs for La Medina. These early Tejano settlers were a mixed group with similar experiences and origins from the northern provinces of New Spain since the 1600s.

They came with a desire to improve themselves, their families, and futures along the Medina River Valley. These Tejano men and women were independent and resilient people who harnessed their environment and contributed to the growth of the “Lone Star State”.

 Therefore, the purpose of this project is to bring a complete account of the role Tejanos played in central Texas and San Antonio development. Not much has been acknowledged about their contributions to ranching, farming, town development, and their rich society.

 It has often been said, “the act of ‘Commission of Omission’ [committing to omit]has been inflicted upon the Tejanos.” The result has been that Tejanos are a people without a country, history or contribution to the development of Texas. Yet, Texas history will never be complete without the story of the Tejanos being told.

 

Historical Background

In the early 1700s, Spanish explorers like Alonso de Leon traversed this river area and established crossing and campsites during their search for the French in East Texas. Also, they encountered numerous Indian tribes in this fertile and tranquil river area. It was teeming with wild game and fish. Succeeding years yielded additional river crossings and contact with many native tribes.

By the mid-1750s, San Antonio had become a hub and crossroads for Spanish expansion and military operations. Movement from the South leads to encampments along this river area as it was still a long day’s march to San Antonio. Although there had been vast mission ranches that occupied this region, the secularization of the missions by the late 1700s began the process of administering grants to this land area. As a result, military officers, politicians, and men of circumstance from San Antonio began to acquire Spanish land grants along the Medina River, fifteen miles south of San Antonio at the nexus of the Camino Real and the river.

In 1821, the Mexican Revolution ended and the new Republic of Mexico continued to provide land grants in this Medina River Valley area. It is important to understand that a heavy concentration of Tejanos received these grants and began to create one of the first Texas ranching communities forged with interrelated family ties and the strengthening of the “Compradizimo”, a social family relationship built on trust and responsibility to family continuity. Also, during the Republic of Texas era, land grants continued to be given or sold to Tejanos and in turn, this area began to be known as La Medina and the place they called “Nuestro,” home.

Resulting successful Tejano ranches built a ranching economy based on native Texas longhorns and native “Mustenos”, mustangs. Long before the touted 1870s Texas trail drives, Tejano “Rancheros”, ranchers, along with their “Vaqueros”, first cowboys, were trailing their cattle to market north, east and south. Of interest is the great feat of General Bernardo de Galvez who led over one thousand men to do battle on behalf of the American Revolution and General George Washington in 1776. However, just as important are the Tejano Rancheros who rounded up and trailed over ten thousand head of longhorn to the north to supply beef and other supplies to the revolutionary effort.

As this project proceeds, we will continue to post updates and materials. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call us at (210) 673-3584 or email publications@texastejano.com.