José Vázquez Borrego, pioneer cattle rancher from Coahuila, Mexico, established the first permanent settlement at the site of present Dolores in South Texas on August 22, 1750. In the 1740s Vázquez Borrego made his living as a rancher breeding horses and mules on his ranch, San Juan del Álamo, which was sixty-eight miles northeast of Monclova, Coahuila. His ranching enterprise was successful but was made difficult by Indian raids. When José de Escandón started his entradas into South Texas, Vázquez Borrego had his son Juan José Vázquez Borrego request that his settlement be included in the Nuevo Santander colonization project. As an incentive to Escandón, Vázquez Borrego started a ferry service across the Rio Grande at Dolores that became an important point of entry into Texas because it was the only ferry on the river. Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Hacienda was the first colony on the northern side of the Rio Grande and was started with livestock, supplies, and thirteen families that Vázquez Borrego moved from his ranch. Along with a 150,000-acre land grant, Vázquez Borrego was given the title of captain and the benefits the title entailed. To protect the area's settlers he organized a flying squadron of twelve men, whose only duty was to patrol and to ward off attacking war parties. Because he split his time between Hacienda Dolores and the ranch, Vázquez Borrego appointed his nephew overseer of Dolores. By 1753 he was joined by Juan Antonio Vidaurri, a son-in-law, who brought additional settlers to Dolores. Vázquez Borrego requested additional land from Escandón to accommodate the new settlers and added the Corralitos and San Ygnacio land grants to the family holdings. By 1757 Vázquez Borrego's hacienda was home to twenty-three families all employed by him. Eventually he received land in excess of 350,000 acres in the area that is now Zapata and Webb counties. Upon his death the land grant was divided into Dolores, Corralitos, and San Ygnacio. As late as 1960 his heirs owned part of the original grant.
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Patsy Jeanne Byfield, Falcon Dam and the Lost Towns of Zapata (Austin: Texas Memorial Museum, 1971). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–1958; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Guide to Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in South Texas (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1988). Pat Kelley, River of Lost Dreams: Navigation on the Rio Grande (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986). J. B. Wilkinson, Laredo and the Rio Grande Frontier (Austin: Jenkins, 1975).
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranchers and Cattlemen
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Alicia A. Garza,
“Vázquez Borrego, José,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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