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The Trans-Nueces Country

mountainous district, but there still is the finest pasturage and game in the greatest abundance.[18] 

The whole region between the Nueces and the Río Bravo [Grande] was a fine grazing country, and "the number of horses and cattle that ranged it, belonging to the settlers on the Río Bravo under . . . Spanish rule prior to 1825. . . . [was] incredible. To this day," wrote Major Emory, who visited the area in 1852, "the remnants of this immense stock are running wild on the prairies between the two rivers."[19]  Large ranches of sheep, goats, cattle, and horses along the Río Grande, on both the north and south banks, date from the founding of San Juan Bautista, Reinosa, Carmargo, Reveilla (Guerrero), Mier, Dolores, and Laredo in the mid-eighteenth century. In subsequent years, "ranching north of the Río Grande gradually increased and extended northward, reaching the Nueces River" within a few years."[20] 

It was not entirely a northward movement, for ranching on a limited, and sometimes on an extensive scale, developed in the vicinity of all the mission establishments and fanned out in every direction. Ranching was begun in the neighborhood of La Bahía del Espíritu Santo, located first on the Garcitas and later on the San Antonio at Goliad, and extended southward. By 1776 Blas María de la Garza Falcón, founder and captain of Camargo, had established his Rancho de Santa Petronilla "within five leagues of the mouth of the Nueces, 'with a goodly number of the people, a stock of cattle, sheep and goats, and cornfields'."[21]  Some of the ranches and herds were of enormous size. Fifty thousand head of cattle belonging to one cattle baron was reported destroyed by a flood inundating Padre Island in 1791.[22]  El Rancho San Juan de Carricitos contained 600,000 acres. Around 1770 the Mission of Espíritu Santo claimed 40,000 head of cattle, branded and unbranded, "that ranged between the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers, while the neighboring Mission of Rosario claimed 10,000 branded cattle and 20,00[Ed: 20,000] unbranded cattle, ranging westward."[23]  It has been estimated that three million

18. Thomas W. Bell, A Narrative of the Capture and Subsequent Sufferings of the Mier Prisoners in Mexico, Captured in the Cause of Texas, Dec. 26th, 1842 and Liberated Sept. 16th, 1844, p. 15.

19. Emory, Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, I, 56.

20. Herbert E. Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century, pp. 300-301.

21. Ibid., p. 301. Don Blas' ranch was located on what is now Petronita Creek.

22. Curtis Bishop and Bascom Giles, Lots of Land, pp. 11, 13.

23. J. Frank Dobie, "The First Cattle in Texas and the Southwest Progenitors of the Longhorns," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLII (1938-1939), 177.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963