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Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

McAllen


BORN OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY

The lively community of McAllen serves as example of the reprise of Hispanic influence over our borderland heritage. Its history, a shifting phase of Spanish and Mexican roots that underwent an age of suppression by Anglo agriculturalists in the first half of the 1900s, has risen again in contemporary Texas. Over three-quarters of the McAllen population register as Hispanics in today's census, an ethnic reality repeated all across the Rio Grande Valley. McAllen's story, an empowering legacy that drives a healthy south Texas economy, illustrates the success that can develop when age-old biases are set aside and the true spirit of a community is allowed to thrive. Remarkably, McAllen began as the offspring of Salomé Ballí­, great-granddaughter of landed Spanish gentry  José Manuel Gómez, and Brownsville businessman John Young who were married in 1848. Together they expanded their land holdings and built a successful ranching operation. After Young's death, Ballí­ married Young's assistant, John McAllen and they continued to enlarge the ranch, producing a son, John Ballí­ McAllen, along the way. The city's original townsite sits on a parcel of this historic McAllen Ranch. By the 1900s, irrigation began to turn the surrounding ranchland into a fertile delta of produce. Other businesses followed including a winery, canning factories, and a tortilla plant. Over the century and into the modern age, bridges were built (both literally and figuratively), and today, McAllen symbolizes the economic success that has come through our historic and contemporary cultural alliances.

 


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