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Brief History

A brief history of the City of La Joya and surrounding communities on the United States border with Mexico.

Chapter 5:
A New City Rises

Wars, Water and Railroads Unsettled the Region

Tabasco and Havana residents would once again endure the ravages of war as the Mexican Revolution of 1910 spilled into the Rio Grande Valley.  U.S. Army troops would pass through the communities en route to points west as they defended the international border with Mexico.  World War I (1914-1918) would contribute to the instability of the region during this period.

During the early 20th century the foundations of a new era for the Rio Grande Valley were laid.  First, the extension of railroads connected the region to commodity markets and people to the north.  Second, the Texas Legislature enacted a law facilitating irrigation districts in 1913.  The Valley was ready.  At the end of the Mexican Revolution and WWI, the magical Rio Grande Valley experienced a migration of Anglo farmers that would transform the largely Latino ranchlands for good – and for bad.

Farm Workers Harveting Crop

A New City on a Hill

Historic newspaper article on La Joya

Education has been central to residents of western Hidalgo County.  The Tabasco Independent School District organized before any municipalities in its service area, and would become one of the largest school districts in the Rio Grande Valley.  In 1925 it began construction of a new school in Havana.

As the Roaring 20s marked tremendous growth in the United States, Major S.L. Davidson and John H. Smith of Houston and J.T. Franklin of Austin saw an opportunity to further development by establishing a new municipality in Tabasco School District.  Smith pushed for an election to incorporate a new city.  On June 29, 1926, residents voted to incorporate the City of La Joya, Texas.  Residents also elected Felix R. Vela as mayor; Alejandro Solis and Pablo Trevino as commissioners.  The trio arguably are the first municipal government composed entirely of Latino elected officials in the region, at the time.  Results of the incorporation election and its first governing body were filed on July 17, 1926.

The community grew for a few years, until the Great Depression (1929) plummeted the nation into the unknown.  Like many corporations and other municipalities, the City of La Joya closed its doors and ceased its operations to the public.

More to follow...

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