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Alicia A. Garza

LOS FRESNOS, TEXAS. Los Fresnos is at the intersection of State Highway 100 and Farm Road 1847, ten miles north of Brownsville in south central Cameron County. According to local history a ranch by that name was established in the area as early as 1770. The land on which the town is situated, however, was part of the El Portero del Espíritu Santo (also known as El Agostadero del Espíritu Santo) land grant, issued by Spain to José Salvador de la Garza in 1781. He established a ranch on the land he received and called it Rancho El Espíritu Santo. Garza and other local residents conducted open-range grazing, especially of sheep, until after the Mexican War. During this time four settlements, the farm Los Cuates, Charco Hondo, Tres Norias, and Agua Negra, developed in the area that later became Los Fresnos. These villages were occupied by Mexicans who had traveled to the area to settle or work for ranchers. There were enough people in the area in 1904 that a school called Los Fresnos had sixteen students and one teacher.

During the early 1900s the introduction of the railroad into South Texas and the work of land speculators led to an influx of northern settlers. Among the land speculators was Lon C. Hill, Jr., who on August 6, 1907, purchased 14,232 acres of the Espíritu Santo land grant and divided it into lots. Hill, with several entrepreneurs, formed a development company in order to develop and sell the land. In 1913 Lon C. "Mose" Hill III and Clyde Tandy established a townsite on the old Alice stage road, and the new town became known as Moseville. Moseville was two miles west of Los Fresnos. In 1915 the developers established Los Fresnos. The Hills were credited with naming the town for the ash trees that grew there in abundance. That year a school was built in the new town. Agents recruited prospective settlers, primarily from midwestern states, on railway tours. A community church was shared by various denominations from 1915 to 1922. The Los Fresnos post office opened in 1919 and operated until 1921. The first Methodist church was built in 1922. The first scheduled train to Los Fresnos ran in 1927 on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. The Los Fresnos post office was reestablished in 1929. During the 1930s a segregated primary school was established at Las Yescas, a Mexican settlement. In 1931 Los Fresnos had an estimated population of 400 and twenty businesses. By 1933 each communion in town had constructed its own church building. From 1939 to 1944 the town had a population estimated at 475 and twenty-one businesses. A growth spurt during the late 1940s and 1950s increased the population to 1,113 and the businesses to thirty by 1959. Through the 1960s Los Fresnos remained a farming community, and its population steadily increased to 1,500 in 1966.

On September 1, 1970, the Olmito Independent School District was consolidated with the Los Fresnos Independent School District. Two years later the Las Yescas Independent School District was also consolidated with LFISD. That year the population of Los Fresnos was estimated at 1,275. It increased to 2,040 by 1980, when there were fifty businesses in the town. In the late 1980s Los Fresnos received some notoriety as a result of the Immigration and Naturalization Service Los Fresnos Processing Center, located outside the city. El Corralón ("the Corral"), was used to house undocumented immigrants seeking work visas or political asylum. The center was often overcrowded and posed many problems for area residents as well as detainees. In 1990 Los Fresnos was surrounded by three colonias. The population was estimated as 2,473, and there were no businesses in the area. In 2000 the population reached 4,512.


Miriam Chatelle, For We Love Our Valley Home (San Antonio: Naylor, 1948). Guide to Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in South Texas (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1988). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Alicia A. Garza, "LOS FRESNOS, TX," accessed August 08, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjl15.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 5, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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