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LOSOYA TAYLOR, PAULA

LOSOYA TAYLOR, PAULA (?–1902). Paula Losoya Taylor, who helped found and develop San Felipe Del Rio (which became Del Rio), was born in Guerrero, Tamaulipas. She probably moved to the area from San Antonio between 1860 and 1862 with her husband, James H. Taylor, and her sister, Refugia Losoya. By the time of her arrival in the region, Mexicans had already settled there, and the area was known as Las Zapas (sometimes Las Sapas)-named for the underground shelters in which these early settlers lived. Paula Taylor and her sister immediately put their land, which was located along what is now Highway 277 close to the Quemado valley and about half a mile from where San Felipe Creek empties into the Rio Grande, under cultivation. She hired Las Zapas residents to work for her, thus drawing more settlers from Texas and Mexico and increasing the population of her new hacienda.

On April 27, 1871, the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Irrigation Company was organized, with James Taylor as one of the original members; he was appointed "Ditch Commissioner" to supervise operations. Company minutes claim that by May 1, 1871, shareholders had built acequias "to irrigate 1,500 acres of land more or less." The first major irrigation canal was the Acequia Madre, which Paula Losoya Taylor helped lead the effort to build; by one account, she joined in its construction. The acequia proved a boon to her prosperity since it provided water to her family's sugarcane fields and permitted the addition to their hacienda of a sugarcane mill, a flour mill, and a gin. These developments, along with the addition of a Mexican candy factory, made her rich. One story of her wealth reported that she "counted her money in buckets."

James Taylor died on April 4, 1876, leaving all of his property and possessions to his wife. Sources suggest that about December 1876 she married another man; little, including his name, is certain, as some sources give the name Charles Rivers, while others say Rivera. Paula Losoya Taylor, whose hacienda became the headquarters for the business, cultural, political, and social life of the fledgling city of Del Rio, also became one of the town's major benefactors. In this role she took in and reared some of her relatives' children, hosted the Oblate priests' monthly visits, and sponsored marriages of the area's couples at her home. To shield the town from Indian raids, she successfully requested military assistance from Fort Clark, and she also donated sixty acres for a fort. She contributed land for area schools and helped build some of the region's Catholic churches. She died on July 17, 1902. In the early 1990s, her restored home, once the center of her hacienda, was at the corner of Hudson and Nicholson streets in Del Rio.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

LULAC News, March 1939. Whitehead Memorial Museum et al., La Hacienda (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976). Diana Sotelo Zertuche, The Spirit of Val Verde (Del Rio, Texas, 1985).

Teresa Palomo Acosta

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Teresa Palomo Acosta, "LOSOYA TAYLOR, PAULA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flogy), accessed October 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.