La Feria News

The Fourth of July a special day for La Feria as well as the United States

A page from the Land Grant Book of the supplemental deed record of Cameron County, which is at the Brownsville Courthouse, shows that King Carlos II granted the land that is now La Feria on July 4, 1776. Courtesy photo provided by Andrea Grammas


While July 4 represents the day our nation declared its independence from the British in 1776, according to a document that resides at the Brownsville Courthouse, July 4, 1776 is also a key day in La Feria’s history.

Andrea Grammas, who has conducted research into the history of La Feria, said that in the Land Grant Book at the Brownsville Courthouse, a translation of a document originally written in Spanish states that King Carlos II granted the land that is now La Feria to Cpt. Jose Maria Guerra Balli and Cpt. Juan José de la Garza Hinojosa on the same day America celebrates its independence.

Grammas said that during her research she uncovered the documents of proceedings that were filed on Nov. 5, 1909 in the Land Grant Book, which is recorded in Volume X, pages 1-105 of the supplemental deed record of Cameron County.

While it has been documented that the La Feria grant was awarded to Balli and Hinojosa in 1776, the exact date of the grant was in question. These documents seem to show, however, that July 4th was the day.

According to Betty Magee and Clotilde P. García, who wrote extensively about the history of La Feria, the La Feria grant was surveyed under the direction of Jose Antonio de la Garza Falcon. However, before Jose de Balli could take possession of his land, he died and others filed suit for the land in the La Feria grant. Rosa Maria Hinojosa de Balli, Jose Hinojosa’s widow, was ultimately awarded the grant, but was unable to occupy the land left by her husband until 1790.

The final decree was issued by the chief justice of the Province of San Luis Potosi on May II, 1790, allotting the lands to the Ballis.

Rosa Hinojosa de Ballí, a rancher known as La Patrona and the first “cattle queen” of Texas, was born in 1752 in what is now Tamaulipas, Mexico. She was the sixth of the nine children of Capt. Juan José de Hinojosa and María Antonia Inés Ballí de Benavides, Spanish aristocrats whose status as Primitive Settlers gave them priority rights to extensive land grants and public offices.

The family moved to Reynosa in 1767, after Hinojosa was appointed alcalde, and joined the elite group of wealthy families who controlled the jurisdiction. Rosa María was educated in Reynosa, probably by the parish priest. She married José María Ballí, a captain of the militia; one of their three sons was José Nicolás Ballí, missionary developer of Padre Island.

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