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Craig H. Roell

CARLOS RANCHO, TEXAS. Carlos Rancho was a Mexican village on the north side of the San Antonio River in what is now Victoria County. It was located at Carlos Crossing, about twelve miles below Goliad on the old road from Victoria to Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission. The village was established about 1830 and named for Carlos de la Garza, whose father, Antonio de la Garza, a Mexican soldier stationed at Goliad, settled the area as a ranch. In 1834 Carlos received title to a league of land that included the old ranch, Carlos Crossing, and Carlos Rancho. He had a commissary, barrel house, smithy, and double log cabin at the site and operated a ferry at Carlos Crossing alternately with John White Bower, another resident. Bower and George B. Amory also had a store there. The settlement had numerous houses and jacals, barns, corrals, and sheds, and a Catholic church where José Antonio Valdez was resident priest. A local school for boys was operating in 1841.

In 1835–36 the population of Carlos Rancho grew substantially as the Mexican residents of Goliad abandoned that town in the wake of its capture and subsequent occupation by George M. Collinsworth, Philip Dimmitt, and especially James W. Fannrin, J. (see GOLIAD CAMPAIGN OF 1835 and GOLIAD CAMPAIGN OF 1836). Consequently, Carlos Rancho fell suspect as a nest of spies. Fannin launched at least two attacks on the place and captured several citizens, including Father Valdez, the suspected leader. John Crittenden Duval wrote of one of these raids in his celebrated Early Times in Texas (1892). Carlos de la Garza recruited his Victoriana Guardes, a unit of some eighty horsemen, from among the Goliad refugees and joined Gen. José de Urrea in defeating Amon B. King and William Ward in the battle of Refugio and in keeping Fannin under surveillance, thus contributing to his defeat in the battle of Coleto.

After the Texas Revolution, Carlos Rancho sheltered families from Goliad and Refugio during Indian raids and the 1842 invasions of Rafael Vásquez and Adrián Woll. Particularly notorious was the killing of Johnson Gilleland and his wife and the capture of their two children by Comanches. During the Vásquez and Woll invasions and several Indian raids, Carlos Rancho became the Refugio county seat; it was located in Refugio County until March 1846, when the community became part of Victoria County upon the boundary change from Coleto Creek to the San Antonio River. The settlement also served as headquarters for the Texas army under Albert Sidney Johnston and as a post for the Texas Rangers.

Nevertheless, Carlos Rancho steadily declined as its Mexican residents were driven off their lands by incoming whites hostile toward those considered to be sympathizers with Mexico during the revolution. Carlos de la Garza remained, however, fighting Indians and running his commissary, as well as operating the ferry alternately with Bower and others. By the time of his death in 1882, Carlos Rancho had virtually ceased to exist, although records indicate that a post office named Carlos, Texas, existed at the site from April until June 1886.


Harbert Davenport, "Men of Goliad," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (July 1939). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966).

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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, Craig H. Roell, "CARLOS RANCHO, TX," accessed June 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvc26.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 17, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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