Alfredo de la Cerda, rancher and suspected cattle thief, was born in 1887. He and his brother Ramón and their father owned the Francisco de Asís Ranch, which bordered the King Ranch. Alfredo's father was killed in 1900 by a Brownsville policeman. In 1901 the brothers were arrested and charged with rustling cattle from the King Ranch and changing the King brand from a "W" to "Bar-W". Ramón was in the process of branding cattle on King's El Saenz pasture when he was killed by ranger Anderson Yancey Baker in an exchange of gunfire on May 16, 1902. Baker was supported financially and legally by Richard King, John B. Armstrong, and the Lyman brothers. An inquest into the incident stated that Baker acted in self-defense. Six days after his death Ramón's body was secretly disinterred and appeared to have been dragged and mistreated. When word of the mistreatment was spread in the Brownsville Spanish-language newspaper, a local group known as the Red Club, which opposed the Texas Rangers and prominent ranchers, excoriated the rangers' actions. An ambush on Baker and two other rangers, Emmett Roebuck and Jesse Miller, occurred on September 9, 1902. Roebuck was killed, Baker was slightly wounded, and Miller was unhurt, although his horse was killed. Alfredo and five other men suspected in the ambush were arrested after an investigation by ranger captain John A. Brooks. Heroulano Berbier, who was to testify against Alfredo, was killed before he could do so.
An attempt to lynch Alfredo was prevented by the rangers, and he was freed on bond. He swore to kill Baker or pay $1,000 to anyone who killed him. Baker, however, acted first. At the time he was shot Alfredo had been trying on a pair of gloves at Tomás Fernández's store, on the corner of Elizabeth and Thirteenth in Brownsville. Baker shot Alfredo in the back with a rifle shortly before 5:00 P.M. on October 3, 1902. Baker and other rangers fled to Fort Brown, two blocks away, to avoid a gathering mob. Using money provided by the Kings and others, Baker was freed on bond. In September of 1903 Baker was acquitted of the killings of Ramón and Alfredo.
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Milo Kearney and Anthony Knopp, Boom and Bust: The Historical Cycles of Matamoros and Brownsville (Austin: Eakin Press, 1991). Américo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958). J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1954). William Warren Sterling, Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Outlaws, Criminals, Prostitutes, Gamblers, and Rebels
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranchers and Cattlemen
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Juan O. Sanchez,
“Cerda, Alfredo de la,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
September 18, 2019
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: