John Swanson Yarbrough Archives HISTORY
Last Updated on Monday, 18-Jul-2005 19:04:25 MDTBelow was part of the history of McMullen Co., TX. Taken from the Handbook of Texas online
Between the Texas Revolution and the Mexican Warqqv of 1846-48, most of what is now McMullen County lay in the disputed area between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River. Asserting its claim to the area, the Republic of Texasqv issued forty-five land grants to property in the area between 1841 and 1845, including a large grant to an English company. It is doubtful that any of these grantees permanently occupied their land, however. Neither the Republic of Texas nor the Mexican government could establish control over this strip of contested land, and it became a haven for outlaws and desperate characters. When William Bollaert,qv an English land speculator, traveled through the area between the Nueces and Frio rivers in 1844, for example, the only people he encountered were convicts who had escaped from a prison in Laredo. Even after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgoqv definitively assigned the Nueces Strip to Texas, outlaws and unfriendly Indians delayed development of the area for years. When McMullen County was officially established from parts of Bexar, Atascosa, and Live Oak counties in 1858, the area had only begun to be settled. In the years just prior to the Civil Warqv settlers began to move into northern McMullen County, particularly along the Frio River; the area's grasslands and many wild cattle and mustangsqv offered economic opportunity for those willing to risk attack. In 1858 a group of about thirty people established a settlement where Leoncita Creek met the Frio. By fall of that year they had built eight to ten crude dwellings and soon afterward began to cut a road to meet the San Antonio-Laredo road that lay to the west. Dubbed Rio Frio, later Dog Town, and then Tilden, this was the first permanent settlement in the county. About ten miles to the east of the Rio Frio settlement, along a broad curve in the Frio River, another group established what came to be known as Yarbrough Bend, a loose community composed mainly of squatters. By 1860 there were perhaps 100 settlers in the county. In the early years of settlement, residents lived on a subsistence level, raising small patches of crops and killing wild game. They also relied to a great extent on the wild cattle and horses that grazed in the area. Until about 1867 the settlers often found that there was a better market for mustangs than for wild cattle, but they also engaged in "cow hunts" to build herds and for sale along the Texas coast and, later, in Kansas. By the late 1860s and early 1870s a number of ranches had been established, mostly in the northern part of the county. For protection, ranchers often grouped their dwellings together. By 1870 Yarbrough Bend, for example, included perhaps thirty families; others clustered along San Miguel Creek or at the Rio Frio settlement, which had come to be called Dog Town.
Source: Handbook of Texas Oline: McMullen County Texas
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thomas Hester, Digging into South Texas Prehistory: A Guide for Amateur Archaeologists (San Antonio: Corona Press, 1980). McMullen County History (n.p: McMullen County History Book Committee, 1981). Joe Pate Smyer, A History of McMullen County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1952).
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