John Minton

RIO FRIO, TEXAS. Rio Frio is on the Frio River just above the Uvalde county line in southeastern Real County. It was first settled between 1856 and 1860; many of the settlers had previously resided farther north up the Frio canyon at Leakey. One early settler was Theophilus Watkins, who arrived in 1867. The next year Watkins, F. Smith, and Newman Patterson initiated construction of a gravity-flow irrigation canal which operated for a century. In 1874 these three filed for a charter for the Lombardy Irrigation Company, which was granted the following year, at which time a post office was also established. Cotton, corn, oats, tobacco, and wheat were raised on the small irrigated tracts, whose owners assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the canal with the acquisition of the land. The importance of farming to the region has waned, however, due in large part to the appearance of the boll weevil in the early twentieth century. Farming has been supplanted by ranching, and in particular the raising of Angora goats. The town's cotton gin, the last in Real County, closed before the end of World War I, and Rio Frio resident Bob Davis, a charter member and the first president of the Texas Angora Goat Raisers Association, was extremely influential in the development of the Angora industry in Texas during this period. A school was established at Rio Frio by 1871, and Andrew Jackson Potter preached at the site as early as 1859. However, it was not until 1920 that a Baptist church was built, where services were held for both the Baptist and Methodist congregations. In the 1940s the Rio Frio Baptist congregation merged with the Leakey Baptist Church, and the Methodist residents transferred their memberships to other area churches. The building at Rio Frio was then converted into a mission serving the Mexican and Mexican-American tenant farmers and migrant ranch workers whose labor has sustained the local economy, commencing with the construction of the Lombardy Irrigation Canal. The town's estimated population, which has never exceeded seventy-five, was listed as fifty in 1985 through 2000.

Beverly Ann Chiodo, "Real County," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (January 1962). Grace Lorene Lewis, A History of Real County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1956).

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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, John Minton, "RIO FRIO, TX," accessed August 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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