La Feria News

Marie Erickson Hargrove Remembers


The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

BiCentennialHistoryCover The following story is a chapter from a manuscript entitled The Bicentennial History of La Feria, Texas written by Eddie Gathings McNail in 1975. Throughout the coming year we’ll be reprinting sections of her research into the history of La Feria as the city celebrates its 100 year anniversary.

The Erickson family left Lake Benton, Minnesota, which is forty miles east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and reached Harlingen on October 10, 1918. Since World War I was in progress, they could not secure an immigrant car, so they brought no furniture or household appliances.

They stayed the first night at the Moore Hotel in Harlingen and then came to La Feria where they rented rooms at the Reynolds Hotel.

Mr. Rasmus Erickson had been to the Valley twice before in March and in April, 1918, and bought 40 acres of land north of Santa Rosa in the brush.

A Grant Six touring car similar to the one Ms. Hargrove used to carpool to school in La Feria in the 1920’s. Photo:

A Grant Six touring car similar to the one Ms. Hargrove used to carpool to school in La Feria in the 1920’s. Photo:

Her father rented a five-room house north of the Santa Rosa Townsite from Will Sibson. Mr. Erickson bought a Dodge touring car in Harlingen, and furniture, pots and pans and a cook stove from the South Texas Lumber Company.

A flu” epidemic hit the Valley and Marie was sick at the time that Lois was born at home on October 20, 1918. Dr. Alfred Ahlman, of La Feria, delivered the baby; Mrs. Tom Sibson came to help.

There was a one teacher, one room school in Santa Rosa which Margaret attended, but, as Marie was entering high school, she drove with Alice and Wayne Sibson and Edward Bailey to school in La Feria in an old Grant touring car. There were four rooms and four teachers in the first brick school built in La Feria in l912. The high school classes were held in one room with Miss Mattie Gentry as principal. Some of her classmates were Fern Heidt, Edward Bailey and Ben Noblett. The subjects taught in the first year of high school were Latin, algebra, ancient history and rhetoric.

Some of the families who lived in La Feria then were the P. B. Branches, the Peal Hamners and the C. H. Ritters.

Mr. Erickson traded the land at Santa Rosa for 40 acres on North White Ranch Road. Their house was built in the summer of 1919.

In September, l919, the edge of the hurricane which destroyed Corpus Christi, hit the Valley. There was much rain, no flood control and Tio Cano Lake filled with water which stood for two years.

Later the Erickson family moved by wagon over Rabb Road to their new home on North White Ranch Road.

The Bailey H. Dunlaps lived in the same house Mrs. Dunlap now occupies, the house being built in 1912.

George Dewey lived north of them and the Wylands lived south of them. The Wylands were a large, typical southern family from Louisiana and included Florence Snell and Ruth Craig.

During the time Marie and Margaret went to school in La Feria and stayed with the Wallace Little family, who lived in a house behind Holley Lewis’ home and who came from Lake Benton, Mississippi, during the week and went home over the weekend. Mr. Erickson and Lou Priest made a boat and rowed the girls across the lake, and they walked to town to school. On Friday afternoon, their father rowed across Tio Cano to buy groceries and to get the girls.

P. B. Branch and his family, Bolin, Amie, Alva and Paul, came from Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and lived in the house formerly occupied by Greta Mae Harris, north of the Methodist parsonage.

There was a community church composed of Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Christian. The Christian Endeavor Society was made up of all the young people of the community. Some of them were Elberta, Wesley and Thelma Wiley, Lowell Clark, Glen Lupher, Fred and Lola Robertson, June Ward, Marie Curtis, George Mitchell and Bud Vigness.

At that time there were no paved roads, the first being built between Harlingen and San Benito. There was telegraph service with a few rural telephones. Though La Feria had its first electric service in 1919, it was C. F. Petty in 1923 who improved the service by installing two generating units.

Marie finished high school in Mercedes in 1922 where she had attended her junior and senior years. Mrs. Nannie Mae Buck was superintendent of the Mercedes Schools and was a sister of Charlie Buck who had a feed store in La Feria. During her junior year in high school, Marie commuted to Mercedes with Elberta and Thelma Wiley, Ben Noblett, Jr., and Edward Bailey. The boys often played hookey, so the girls rode the train to La Feria when this happened. Her senior year, Marie, Elberta and Thelma stayed in Mercedes with Mrs. Mary Morrow during the school week.

In September, l922, Marie taught school in La Feria with a one-year certificate. Some of her first pupils were Edna Erickson, Merton Brower, Clovis Ritter, George Dunlap and Lena Zamponi.

Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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