Rios, Texas - Duval County

The farming and ranching community of Rios, Tx. in southern Duval County has roots dating back to the Republic of Mexico, although the name of Rios only goes back to the beginning of World War II.

The first inhabitants of the area were a branch of the Coahuiltecan Indians called Los Venados. They were hunters who roamed from the Duval county area, south to around Cerralvo in Nuevo León, Mexico. Shortly after Camargo was established in 1749, the Venados were some of the
Indians to live in the mission.

The first person who came and set claim to the land where the community of Rios is located was Don Dionisio Elizondo, neighbor of Cd. Camargo, Tamaulipas. Elizondo denounced 1 1/2 leagues or about 10,078 acres on October 15, 1835. The tract had been surveyed by Don Antonio Canales Rosillo on September 15, 1835 and Elizondo was given possession of it by mayor and judge of the villa of Camargo Don José Matias Ramirez on November 29, 1835.

In Andrés Tijerina's book, "Tejanos & Texas under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836", there is a Dionisio Elizondo who was a congressman from Coahuila who gave a presentation in November of 1826 to the legislature on the subject of slavery in Texas. Although he was against slavery he argued in favor of letting the Anglo-Texans keep the slaves they had brought with them but that no man could be born a slave. It is very possible that this Dionisio and the Dionisio who ended up in Camargo are the same person, as Dionisio Elizondo was born in Monterrey and had family ties to Coahuila.

Elizondo passed away and didn't get to develop his ranch. After Texas became a Republic and then a state was when one of his daughters decided to move from Guardado de Arriba, Tamualipas to settle the lands that her father had bought in 1835.

Doña Viviana Elizondo de Gonzalez was the only sibling who kept her inheritance of the land grant. Her other brothers and sisters sold their interest to Don José María Martínez, Don Benito Gonzalez (Viviana's husband and José María's brother-in-law), Don Saturnino Vera-who later became José María's son-in-law, and Don Ysidro Villarreal a family friend and employee of the family.

The Martinez' and Gonzalez' had also bought other sections of the adjoining, Juan José Manuel De La Garza Falcón land grant named San Francisco and had established their ranch headquarters on the banks of the Los Olmos Creek and called their small community Santa Cruz by the early 1860s. Sheep raising was their major income producer.

The first settlers who established ranches on the El Señor de la Carrera grant in the vicinity of present day Rios along the Derramadero de los Indios were Saturnino Vera & wife Victoriana Martinez-Rancho San Buenaventura, Ysidro Villarreal & wife Encarnacion Ramon-Rancho La Gloria, children of Benito and Viviana...Victor Gonzalez & wife Eulogia Canales-Rancho Vera Cruz, Celso Gonzalez & wife Teresa Mendoza-Rancho Mazatlan, Paula Gonzalez & husband Vidal Canales-Rancho La Filadelfia.

The reason the ranches were established along the derramadero was because that was where the water table was the shallowest and allowed them to dig the noria de buques (hand dug wells).

By the late 1800s and early 1900s the families were getting larger and sons and daughters were getting married and more houses were being built. This settlement which was between Rancho La Gloria and Rancho Vera Cruz soon became known as La Gloria. By the early 1900s a Catholic
church was built with Father Pedro Bard riding from San Diego about once a month to provide services. A school was located at Rancho Vera Cruz and a few stores were located close by.

According to my dad, Lino Rios Vera, the community of Rios got its name when the new post office was established right around the beginning of World War II. The name of La Gloria was already taken so Felipe Rios, the first postmaster was going to name the community Vera, after local rancher Saturnino Vera, but since there already was a Vera in north Texas he named it Rios after his family who were some of the settlers that came in right before the 1900s. Francisco Rios who was married to Margarita Canales was the patriarch of all the Rios' in the community.

The local Catholic church burned down in 1937 and the local folks had to use the Vera Cruz school as a church for many years until a new one was built in the 1960s. The Franciscans from Hebbronville were in charge of the mission church until the 1960s when it was turned over to St.
Theresa' in Premont.

Today the community of Rios consists of St. Francis de Assisi Catholic Church and several homes along the highway. The children attend school in Premont, about fifteen miles away.

If one travels from the Los Olmos creek crossing on FM Rd 1329 for at least five or six miles north towards San Diego, mostly everyone on both sides of the road are related in one way or another. Off the highway are still the ranches, smaller in size now, but still of the descendents of
Benito and Viviana Gonzalez, Saturnino and Victoriana Vera, José María and Julia Martínez, and Ysidro and Encarnacion Villarreal.

Note: Most folks refer to Rios from the stretch of highway from county road 223 up to Victor's Farm & Ranch Store.

Sillar Houses from the late 1800s
Rancho San Vicente (top)
Rancho Vera Cruz (bottom)

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