Alice, Texas To many persons of Alice, Tx. and the surrounding area, Rancho Alegre is very well known as the barrio located in the southwest region of Alice. What many people don't know is the origin of the name, Rancho Alegre. The following is a story told to me by Juan C. Rodriguez on the origin of the name Rancho Alegre.
Juan C. Rodriguez was born to Timoteo Rodriguez and Emiteria Cabrera de Rodriguez on February 21, 1924 in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. His parents were already living in the Alice area and all of his siblings were born in the U. S. but on a visit to their relatives in Guanajuato, Juan decided he wanted to be born in the land of his father.
On May 31, 1924 the Rodriguez' arrived back in Texas where they lived and worked as farm workers on the Cuarenta Casas Ranch owned by W. C. Tiller, southeast of Petronila, Tx. in Nueces county.
In December of 1939 the Rodriguez family started working at the Russio Ranch southwest of Alice, Tx. In 1940 Juan, with his brother-in-law, Guadalupe Vasquez moved to the Russio Ranch. The foreman of the ranch was Manuel Hinojosa.
When Juan's father arrived back in Alice after working the fields as migrants in the northern United States he wanted to buy land in the Russio Road area. Manuel Hinojosa sent the Rodriguez' to Antonio Lozano, Sr. who had a store behind the Lozano Cleaners location.
Mr. Lozano knew a Mr. McMasters who owned property in that area. He sent the Rodriguez' to him and they went to inspect the land they wanted to purchase. The Rodriguez' stopped at a Mr. Chiles residence on FM Rd. 1554 and proceeded to walk north to the area of present day Corina and McMasters Streets.
Timoteo, Juan's father, preferred the land where a small hill was located. He bought two and one half acres paying $60.00 an acre for the land located in the back of the property and $65.00 for the one half acre located in the front of the property. The land was all covered with South Texas brush which Timoteo later cleared by hand.
Timoteo spoke with Olivero Herrera, who worked at the local lumber yard located at the old Gibson store location on Main St. in Alice, about purchasing lumber. Two houses were built at a cost of $200.00 for material and Rodriguez hired two carpenters from San Diego to build the two houses at a cost of $65.00 for both of them. This was the beginning of Rancho Alegre. How did it get its name?
Juan Rodriguez says there were two influences in his picking the name Rancho Alegre. One was a Mexican movie released in 1942 with Raul Deanda and Estella Inda by the name of Rancho Alegre. He recalls seeing the movie in Robstown at the old carpa (tent) theaters.
The other was when Juan would drive the farm workers from Alice to pick cotton in the fields of Petronila in his truck. After a hard day's work all the farm workers would gather around and have a social dance with the same workers also being musicians.
The truck drivers from Robstown had names for their trucks such as La Estrella and La Cometa. They asked Juan what name he was going to give his truck. Juan seeing that this tradition of having dances after work was carried over to the place in Alice, only there it was on the natural dirt floor, said, "Pues en Alice somos muy alegres, le voy a poner que somos del Rancho Alegre." (Well in Alice we are very happy, so I'm going to name it Rancho Alegre.) And Juan painted the sign on the sideboards of the truck.
From then on people knew that the workers from Alice came from Rancho Alegre. The second person to follow the Rodriguez' in buying land there were Antonio Marquez and his wife Juanita, Eugenio Valdez was the third person, and Crisoforo "Chofo" Figueroa was the fourth person.
Today the area in the southwest corner of the city of Alice is known by everyone as Rancho Alegre. We would like to thank Juan Rodriguez of Alice for sharing this great piece of historical information with our readers.