Hidalgo County Historical Markers

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Map of Hidalgo County Historic Sites

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Bradburn, Juan Davis | Costilla, Padre Miguel Hidalgo y | Donna | El Horcon Tract and Rio Rico | El Sal del Rey | Havana | Town of Hidalgo | Hidalgo County | Old Hidalgo County Courthouse | Museum of South Texas History | 1886 Hidalgo County Jail | Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridges | Battle of La Bolsa | La Lomita Farms | La Noria Cardenena | Los Ebanos Ferry Crossing | Military Highway of the Lower Rio Grande | Penitas | San Joaquin Mission | Weslaco Museum
Juan Davis Bradburn

Marker Title: Juan Davis Bradburn
City: Mission
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1996
Marker Location: from Mission, take FM 1016 south about 2 mi, in La Lomita Park.
Marker Text: John Davis Bradburn (1787-1842) was born in Virginia and reared in Kentucky. He entered Mexico in 1817 with Francisco Mina's army to help upset Spanish colonial forces in the War of Independence. He became a naturalized Mexican citizen and in 1821 married into an aristocratic family. Bradburn hired Henry Austin to operate a steamboat on the Rio Grande in 1828. Best known as the Mexican commander at the Anahuac disturbances in 1830-32, he was promoted to general in 1832, and died in 1842. The exact location of his grave is unknown; he reportedly is buried on the hill nearby. (1996)

Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Marker Title: Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
City: Edinburg
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1983
Marker Location: Hidalgo Plaza, 100 N. Closner St., Edingburg
Marker Text: Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), for whom the county of Hidalgo is named, was born near Guanajuato, Mexico, while the country was still under Spanish rule. After being ordained a priest in 1779, he served churches in Colima, San Felipe, and Dolores, where he emerged as a champion of human rights who feared the colonial system would never allow independence and justice for all citizens. A firm believer in economic independence from the mother country, Hidalgo worked toward that goal by teaching farming methods and industrial techniques to Indians and others in his parish. In 1810 Padre Hidalgo, along with military leader Ignacio de Allende, conspired to overthrow the Royalist government. Warned that officials suspected their plot, Hidlago gathered sympathizers in Dolores. Following early mass on the morning of September 16, 1810, Hidalgo made his famous "Grito De Delores," a call to arms which in effect began the revolt that led to Mexican independence from Spain in 1821. During a battle on the bridge of Calderon, Padre Hidalgo was captured and later was unfrocked and shot. Considered "The Father of Mexican Independence," Padre Hidalgo continues to be honored for his leadership throughout Mexico and the Southwest. (1983)


Marker Title: Donna
City: Donna
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Location: Town square, Bus. Route US 83 (Hooks St.) at S. 8th, Donna.
Marker Text: Two East Texas men, T.J. Hooks and A. F. Hester, began developing this area for settlement in the late 1890s. Through formation of the La Blanca Agricultural Company, they set up farms and irrigation systems and advertised the area's favorable climate and resources. In 1904, when a rail line was built here, they founded the town of Donna, named for T.J. Hooks daughter. Ed Ruthven opened the first store and, in 1908, the town incorporated with R.P. Boeye as mayor. Since the earliest days of the 20th century, Donna has developed as one of the leading cities of the Rio Grande Valley. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986

El Horcon Tract and Rio Rico

Marker Title: El Horcon Tract and Rio Rico
City: Mercedes
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1994
Marker Location: US 281, .5 Mi E of intersection of US 281 and FM 491 (S. Side of Rd), Mercedes
Marker Text: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican War (1846-48) designated the main channel of the Rio Grande as the Mexico-U.S. boundary. Disputes arising from frequent changes in the river's course led to the Treaty of 1884 which recognized only those river diversions resulting from natural occurences. The International Boundary Commission was established in 1889 to administer the Treaty of 1884. In 1906 the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company dug an unauthorized canal about two miles south of here which altered the natural course of the Rio Grande. As a result, a 419-acre section of U.S. property called El Horcon tract was isolated south of the river. Although still U.S. territory according to the Treaty of 1884, the tract and the popular gambling and resort community of Rio Rico which flourished there during the 1920s and 1930s became increasingly subject to Mexican administration and jurisdiction. After the U.S. granted Mexico territorial rights over El Horcon tract and Rio Rico in 1970, a native of Rio Rico sued the U.S. government to guarantee his U.S. citizenship. This lawsuit began an eight-year legal battle that eventually led to U.S. citizenship for about 200 people born in Rio Rico prior to 1970. (1994)

El Sal del Rey

Marker Title: El Sal del Rey
City: Linn vicinity
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: from Linn, take FM 186 east about 4 miles
Marker Text: (The salt of the King) Directly to the north. Upon Spanish discovery, 1746, claimed for King, under old law that salt was money. People of wide area got salt here. 1863-64 works aided Texas in the Civil War. Later disputes over El Sal del Rey established Texas laws for private ownership of minerals. (1964)


Marker Title: Havana
City: LaJoya
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1988
Marker Location: from La Joya, take US 83 West about 1.8 Mi to Havana
Marker Text: Located on land known as Porcion 46, ceded by the crown of Spain to Don Jose Matias Tijerina in 1767, the community of Havana was named for Havana, Cuba, where Tijerina had stopped on his journey from Europe. Among the early settlers here were the families of Josefa de la Garza Salinas and Civil War Union soldier Patricio Perez. A frame church was built in 1891 and named for St. Joseph. Descendants of early settlers still live in the area. Many Havana pioneers are buried here in the Havana Cemetery. (1988)

Town of Hidalgo

Marker Title: Town of Hidalgo
City: Hidalgo
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: McAllen Park, El Texano Drive & First, Hidalgo
Marker Text: County seat of Hidalgo County 1854-1908. Known as Edinburgh in 1852. Name changed in 1861 to Hidalgo in honor of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, 1753-1811, parish priest who led the movement in 1810 for Mexican independence. Almost completely washed away by an overflow of the Rio Grande in September, 1887.

Hidalgo County

Marker Title: Hidalgo County
City: Edinburg
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Courthouse Lawn, Cano & US 281 Bus., Edinburg
Marker Text: Formed from Starr and Cameron counties. Created January 24, 1842. Organized April 7, 1854. Named in Honor of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla -- 1753-1811 Mexican Patriot County Seat, 1852, Edinburgh, name changed February 7, 1861, to Hidalgo. Moved to present site, then called Chapin, October 12, 1908. Name changed to Edinburg, February 3, 1911.

Old Hidalgo County Courthouse

Marker Title: Old Hidalgo County Courthouse
City: Hidalgo
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: First and Flora, Hidalgo
Marker Text: This building served as the Hidalgo County Courthouse from its construction in 1886 until the County Seat was moved to Chapin (later name Edinburg) in 1908. Made of brick from nearby Reynosa, Mexico, it originally was a two-story structure. Its cupola, roof, and second floor were destroyed in an early 20th-century fire. An important building during the county's formative years, the old Courthouse later served as an immigration and customs facility. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1963

Museum of South Texas History

Museum Name: Museum of South Texas History
Street Address: 121 E. McIntyre
City: Edinburg
Zip Code: 78541
Area Code: 956
Phone: 383-6911
County: Hidalgo
Types of Exhibits/Collections: origins to local ranching  (20th Century exhibits to present - coming soon) Old Jail Building: 1909 old Jail hanging tower, old town exhibit, Prohibition, WWII, Rocketmail Collections: Military, Archeology, Photos, Historical, Local/Pioneer History, Archives Library:  Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives (open Tues. - Fri. 10am to 5pm by appointment)

1886 Hidalgo County Jail

Marker Title: 1886 Hidalgo County Jail
City: Hidalgo
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1984
Marker Location: First & Flora, Hidalgo
Marker Text: Built in 1886 by S. W. Brooks, who also constructed the nearby courthouse, this jail served Hidalgo County during a turbulent period in its history, when outlaw raids were still occurring. The city's first newspaper, "The Hidalgo Advance," was published here from 1904 to 1908. The two-story jail, which features handmade brick and a corbeled cornice along the roofline, served the county until 1908, when the seat of government was moved to Chapin (now Edinburg). Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1984

Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridges

Marker Title: Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridges
City: Hidalgo
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1989
Marker Location: US 281 Spur at its terminus at the Rio Grande, Hidalgo
Marker Text: At the time of the formation of Hidalgo County in 1852, the village located here, originally named Edinburgh, became the new county seat. A ferry service was operating between the village and Reynosa, Mexico. By 1861 the town's name was changed to Hidalgo, and regular ferry service was inaugurated in 1910 by Crisoforo Vela (1856-1932). First using rowboats and, later, raft-like conveyances, the ferry continued in operation until Joe Pate erected a bridge here in 1926. The 1926 suspension bridge was damaged by floods in 1933. Although rebuilt and strengthened, it fell into the river and was destroyed in 1939 after cable anchors on the U.S. side failed to hold. A second suspension bridge was erected the following year and purchased by the city of McAllen in 1960. A four-lane prestressed concrete bridge was opened to traffic on June 1, 1967. The suspension bridge was removed for salvage in 1971. Construction of an additional four-lane bridge was completed in 1988. For over six decades, the Hidalgo-Reynosa bridges, operated jointly by McAllen, Hidalgo, and Mexican interests since 1960, have facilitated transportation and fostered international cooperation and friendship between Texas and Mexico. (1989)

Battle of La Bolsa

Marker Title: Battle of La Bolsa
City: Progresso
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1991
Marker Location: from Progresso, take US 281 east about 4 mi.
Marker Text: In 1859 and early 1860 a series of raids on Texas settlements led by Juan N. Cortina (1824-1894) led to skirmishes with companies of Texas Rangers and U.S. soldiers. These conflicts became known as the Cortina War. On February 4, 1860, a battle occurred at La Bolsa Bend (ca. 1 mi. S.) between Cortina's raiders and Captain John S. "Rip" Ford's Texas Rangers. The Rangers successfully defended the riverboat "Ranchero", traveling downstream from Rio Grande City, from an attack by Cortina's band. Cortina escaped into Mexico and later became a general in the Mexican Army.

La Lomita Farms

Marker Title: La Lomita Farms
City: Mission
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1981
Marker Location: from Mission take FM 1016 about 5 miles south
Marker Text: In 1849 Catholic priests of the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate began mission work in Texas under the direction of Bishop Jean Marie Odin. From Brownsville, they traveled throughout the lower Rio Grande Valley, ministering to the residents of the area. Through their work in Northern Mexico, they met a Frenchman named Rene Guyard. A Reynosa merchant and a Texas landowner, Guyard made this part of his Rancho La Lomita available for the establishment of a mission to serve his ranch workers. The first chapel was constructed here in 1865. The Oblates inherited La Lomita and the nearby Nogalito Ranch following Guyard's death in 1871. A third connecting tract was purchased later with the help of an overseer, the priests hoped to produce food for their needs and to provide a profit to fund further missionary work in the area. Although the mission was successful, the farming operation proved to be a financial burden on the Oblates. In 1909 they sold all but 400 acres to John J. Conway. A town he founded (5 miles north) was later named Mission in honor of the pioneer La Lomita Chapel, the center of early area Catholic missionary work. This site was abandoned in 1911, but later restored. (1981)

La Noria Cardenena

Marker Title: La Noria Cardenena
City: Linn
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1988
Marker Location: from Linn, take US 281 south about .5 miles
Marker Text: Parts of present Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, and Kenedy counties were once included in two Spanish land grants, San Juan de Carricitos and San Salvador del Tule. The original grantee of the Carricitos grant was Jose Narciso Cavazos. After his death, ownership of the land passed to his heirs. The Tule lands were granted to Juan Jose Balli in 1798. Balli obtained a business loan from Antonio Cardenas of Reynosa, Mexico. Following Balli's death and subsequent litigation over the loan, the lands reverted to Cardenas heirs in 1828. The Cardenas family established La Noria Cardenena Ranch in 1829, so named because of the fresh water wells (norias) found in the region. Gradually, the Cardenas and Cavazos families were joined by a number of marriages, which also combined property interests. Although the families endured many hardships, including years of indian and bandit attacks, they continued to run a strong ranching operation. Still in existence on part of the ranch is a small cemetery, begun in 1835 and named Nino Jesus de Praga in 1863. Also surviving are the mid-19th century main ranch house and a church built next to the cemetery in 1944. (1988)

Los Ebanos Ferry Crossing

Marker Title: Los Ebanos Ferry Crossing
Address: FM 886
City: Los Ebanos
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1974
Marker Location: at ferry crossing, FM 886 on south side of Los Ebanos
Marker Text: Apparently this is an ancient ford. First recorded usage was by Spanish explorers and colonists under Jose de Escandon in 1740s on the Rio Grande. A salt trail led from here to El Sal del Rey (40 miles northeast). The ford was used by Mexican war troops, 1846; by Texas Rangers chasing cattle rustlers, 1874; by smugglers in many eras, especially during the American prohibition years, 1920s and '30s. The ferry and inspection station were established in 1950. Named for the ebony trees here, this is known as the only government-licensed, hand-pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States. (1974)

Military Highway of the Lower Rio Grande

Marker Title: Military Highway of the Lower Rio Grande Valley
City: Mercedes
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1997
Marker Location: Roadside park on US 281, 4 mi. S of Mercedes.
Marker Text: Plains Indians made trails near the banks of the rio Grande that were used by Spanish explorers in the 18th century. Early settlers built a road close to the river bank connecting their ranches. Later called the Military Road, it ran from Brownsville to Laredo, linking frontier forts and stagecoach and mail lines. An inland route for cotton shipping during the Civil War, parts of it also were used for cattle drives. It served as the military telegraph road between Forts Brown and McIntosh in the 1870s. Paved by the 1940s, the highway is a significant part of the region's history. (1997)


Marker Title: Penitas
City: Mission vicinity
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: from Mission, take FM 2062 south about 5.5 miles
Marker Text: Possibly one of oldest towns in the United States. Established, according to tradition, in mid-1520s. Founders were a priest and five other Spaniards of the unsuccessful Panfilo de Narvaez Expedition into Mexico in 1520. Narvaez was sent to arrest or kill Hernando Cortez, conqueror of Mexico, who was accused of disloyalty to the king. Cortez, however, defeated Narvaez in battle, imprisoned him, and took most of Narvaez's army for his own. After Narvaez was released from prison (1521), he and the remnant of his men set out for Florida. But Father Zamora and five officers gave up further plans to travel with Narvaez, and settled at Penitas. The refugees were befriended by Indians living in huts and dugout-type homes in the vicinity. The Spaniards erected stone houses with whitewashed walls. Father Zamora brought the Catholic faith to the Indians, also teaching them weaving and better farming. The Indians taught cookery to their guests. Cabeza de Vaca, aide in a later Narvaez expedition, is famous for having written of his shipwreck and wanderings in Texas from 1528 to 1535. The founders of Penitas are recalled best by their descendants, some of whom still live in this area. (1970)

San Joaquin Mission

Marker Title: San Joaquin Mission
City: Hidalgo
County: Hidalgo
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: McAllen Park, El Texano Drive at First Street, Hidalgo
Marker Text: Approximate site of Mission San Joaquin del Monte a Visita, established in 1749 as part of Jose de Escandon's project to settle the region and civilize and Christianize the Indians. (1936)

Weslaco Museum

Museum Name: Weslaco Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 8062
Street Address: 515 S. Kansas
City: Weslaco
Zip Code: 78599-0151
Area Code: 956
Phone: 968-9142
County: Hidalgo
Museum Coordinator: Audrey Hazlett

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