Photo by Valerie D. Bates
RENEGADES TO RINGTONES
Donna, it's not just the name of the town, but Donna Hooks Fletcher's name, a skilled entrepreneur and savvy business woman in the 1900s, who turned a local land gift from her father into a thriving produce and dairy operation. Pre-Donna (the town and the woman), the region served as an important cattle-gathering point for drovers pushing Longhorns northward toward the Chisholm Trail. Originally part of the La Blanca land grant held by the Lino Cabazos family, the territory saw its first Anglo-American pioneer in 1839. John F. Webber, along with his wife and former slave Sylvia, settled in the area hoping to avoid persecution for their interracial marriage.
This Tropical Trail community is located within earshot of the Rio Grande; something Donna no doubt had in mind as she prepared to fend off cross-border raids with a bible in one hand and a pistol in the other. One can imagine the gossip at the local watering hole whenever Donna, a single divorcee' with a knack for prosperity, made it to town. See the bible and the pistol at the Donna Hooks Fletcher Museum. The Blue Goose Saloon, a local favorite in 1914 and the first to get a telephone, must have been absolutely a-buzz with chatter. Some claim the American Legion Post #107 to be the very first American Legion Hall in the world. This building has played an important role in the community of Donna, opening its doors for local dances, dinners, school and church groups – and even functioning as soup kitchen during the Great Depression.
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