Spanish Land Grants

This collection started with the work of borderlands historian, Dr. Sonia Hernandez, who oversaw student research on porciones or Spanish land grants. This research begins with life histories of local families and traces their land acquisition to first European contact in the borderlands.  Following the course of approximately 300 years of change, this documentation and these histories specify the shifts that large tracts of property underwent. The reports contain ample proof of these changes, including official documents such as land title and warranty deeds, official family trees, maps, photos, oral histories and letters.  This collection is part of a larger project devoted to documenting Borderlands history developed with the Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS).

Chaps LogoCHAPS involves a project that highlights the multicultural history of families and their land in the Rio Grande Valley. Students conduct land title research in the Hidalgo County Courthouse and conduct family oral interviews. They then trace their history back to the original land grants awarded by the King of Spain in the 18th century when this region was claimed and settled by Spain and organized as the province of Nuevo Santander. These grants, called porciones, now form part of several counties including Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron—among the top five poorest counties in our nation. Despite the importance of the porciones as key components of South Texas early life and as a reminder of the Spanish legacy in this region, the history of the grants and its inhabitants has been largely ignored. While research efforts to recover and publish this history have been made in the past decade or two, a wide gap remains unfilled. Given the location of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, in the heart of South Texas, this project to recover the history of the porciones is of immense value to the community.  The collection provides an overview of historical developments as they relate to land ownership by highlighting research on land title deeds/abstracts, maps of porciones and present-day colonias or unincorporated subdivisions, census records and published genealogical (or family) trees of the various families who owned porciones.


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An excerpt from the Reynaldo Anzaldua interview An excerpt from the Reynaldo Anzaldua interview

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