While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Juan O. Sanchez

CERDA, ALFREDO DE LA (1887–1902). 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.


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).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Juan O. Sanchez, "CERDA, ALFREDO DE LA," accessed June 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fce03.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 24, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...