Peñitas Cemetery

Resting in this cemetery are two Union Army veterans, Sergeant Ignacio Zamora and Private Jose Maria Loya. Zamora enlisted in the 2nd Regiment, Texas Cavalry Company, at Brownsville in 1864. Private Loya enlisted in the Independent Partisan Rangers, Texas Cavalry, in 1863. Both descended from Spanish Colonial families who founded the settlement called Peñitas in the mid-1700s, which then—like all of Texas—was part of New Spain, and after 1821, the Republic of Mexico. After the U.S.-Mexican War ended in 1848, the Mexican government was forced to recognize the Rio Grande as an international boundary. People of Mexican origin whose homes lay north of the boundary often became targets of land theft and violence. This may have inspired them to join the Union army as a form of retaliation against their Confederate neighbors. Many willingly went to Brownsville to enlist into local regiments, such as the 2nd Regiment of the Texas Cavalry, in fear of being conscripted and sent far away. It is also noted that bounty money was offered to enlist in the Union Army. This appealed to some local vaqueros who were not only opposed to slavery but as ranchers and farmers were dealing with the loss of family land grant properties at the end of the Mexican American War.

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Dos veteranos del ejército unionista yacen en este cementerio, el sargento Ignacio Zamora y el cabo José María Loya. Zamora se enlistó en la compañía de la Caballería de Texas, Segundo Regimiento, en 1864 en Brownsville, mientras que el cabo Loya se enroló en el cuerpo de Exploradores Partisanos Independientes, también de la Caballería de Texas, en 1863. Ambos eran descendientes de familias españolas de la época colonial, quienes fundaran el asentamiento denominado «Peñitas» a mediados del siglo XVIII. El lugar, por aquel entonces y al igual que la totalidad de Texas, era parte de la Nueva España, y después de 1821, pertenecía a la República de México. Tras el fin de la Guerra Méxicoestadounidense, o Guerra de Intervención, el gobierno mexicano se vio obligado a reconocer el Río Grande como frontera internacional, y las personas de origen mexicano establecidas al norte de la divisoria con frecuencia fueron víctimas de la violencia y de la apropiación de terrenos. Esto pudiera haberles incitado a enlistarse en el ejército unionista, quizás como represalia contra sus vecinos confederados. Muchas personas acudieron de manera voluntaria hasta Brownsville para incorporarse a los regimientos locales, tales como el Segundo de la Caballería de Texas, por miedo de ser proscritos y exiliados a lugares lejanos. Debe señalarse también que se ofreció una compensación en efectivo a los que se enlistaran en las filas unionistas, lo que resultó atractivo para algunos vaqueros locales que no sólo se oponían a la esclavitud, sino que en calidad de rancheros y agricultores se enfrentaban desde el final de la Guerra de Intervención a la pérdida de propiedades de tierras familiares heredadas desde las concesiones coloniales.

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Details

Location: The city of Peñitas is located between the city of Palmview and the city of La Joya. Driving west on U.S. 83, about 16 miles from McAllen, turn south on FM 1427 (also known as Main St.). After about 1 mile, turn left on Zamora street which is immediately after the Peñitas Public Library. If you reach the railroad tracks that means you have gone too far. After driving about a quarter of a mile down Zamora street (which will eventually curve to the right), turn left on Manuelita Rios street which is the first street that crosses Zamora street. You will shortly see the Peñitas Cemetery to your left.

Access: The Peñitas Cemetery is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact: Peñitas Public Library at 1111 S. Main Street, Peñitas, TX 78576.
Monday -Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Contact them by phone at (956) 583-5658.

GPS Coordinates

Photos

Penitas Civil War Union Veteran Zamora headstone
Penitas Civil War Union Veteran Zamora headstone
Penitas Civil War Union Veteran Loya headstone
Penitas Civil War Union Veteran Loya headstone