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SHARYLAND, TX

SHARYLAND, TEXAS. Sharyland is 36,000 acres on U.S. Highway 83 and Farm roads 495 and 494 in the lower Rio Grande valley, partly in Mission and McAllen, between the Rio Grande on the south and Four Mile Road in southern Hidalgo County. Most of the community now lies in Mission. Between 1914 and 1917 John H. Shary, land promoter and developer of the Corpus Christi area, purchased the 16,000-acre Swift estate, Conway and Hoit's 20,000-acre partial development of the Oblate Fathers' La Lomita Ranch (once part of the farming operation of the La Lomita Mission), and the James B. Wells-John Closnerqv holdings. Shary renamed the area Sharyland and began developing citrus farms, eventually planting 15,000 trees, which he sold and leased in forty-acre farms. In 1922 he hand-cleaned and hand-sized carloads of fruit from his orchards. In 1923 he formed TCX, the Texas Citrus Exchange, one of the first large-scale growing and marketing associations in the industry. Irrigation water was essential to raising citrus in the valley. John Conway, the founder of Mission, had started an irrigation project; Shary bought it, and made it profitable as the United Irrigation Company, which furnished water for more than 55,000 acres of land for nearly forty years, until in 1952 it was absorbed by the newly formed Hidalgo County Water Control District 19. Shary found his 36,000 acres a dense jungle of vegetation with mesquite sometimes two feet in diameter, as well as guajillo, ebony, retama, tornillo, and huisache trees, flowering semitropical plants, cactus, and brush; he turned it into an irrigated farmland. Shary and his wife Mary O'Brien built a home that remains a valley showplace in North Sharyland, now separated from Mission by the village of Palmhurst. The mansion had its own bowling alley and accommodated thousands of guests. It overlooks an artificial lake and citrus acreage and was the setting for the wedding in 1937 of the couple's only child, Marialice, to Allan Shivers, then an up-and-coming state senator. The home became known as the Little White House after President Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed there three days as the guest of Shivers, then governor, during the dedication ceremonies at Falcon Dam. The Sharyland Independent School District was formed in 1922 and in 1990 had 3,000 pupils in two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The Sharyland Water Supply Corporation furnishes the area drinking water. In the 1950s small farms became unprofitable, and two large growers and shippers, Valley Onion and John B. Hardwick Company, emerged, together with the Shary Farms, which still owned 1,000 acres. In 1973 Allan and Marialice Shivers sold Shary Farms to Ray Hunt's Hunt Investment Company, headquartered in New Jersey. Harry Shimitzu, valley native and a large grower and shipper, was hired to run the 6,000-acre Sharyland Plantation. In 1980, when rail transportation became obsolete, Sharyland Plantation built a new facility on Shary Road and Military Highway, two miles south of Cimarron Country Club. More than 1,000 persons were employed by the plantation in 1989. There were at that time a dozen citrus groves, mostly Ruby Red Grapefruit, in Sharyland; half a dozen major additions such as Fox Run, Stonegate, Sendero, and Shary Village; and numerous business lining the major highways.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Hidalgo County, John Shary). Lucy H. Wallace, "John H. Shary-Believer," in Valley By-Liners, Roots by the River (Mission, Texas: Border Kingdom Press, 1978). Mrs. James Watson, The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Its Builders (Mission, Texas, 1931).

Mary Jayne Walsh

Citation

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

Mary Jayne Walsh, "SHARYLAND, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hts09), accessed August 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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