La Feria News

The Incorporated Town

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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.

On March 22, 1915, the 400 inhabitants of La Feria petitioned the Honorable H. L. Yates, County Judge of Cameron County, Texas, to adopt a Commission form of government and become in- corporated under said form of government as the City of “La Feria.” It was to embrace the part of the La Feria Grant in Cameron County, Texas, originally granted to Maria Rosa Hinojosa de Balli and confirmed to her heirs and assigns as of February 10, 1852.

It was meted and bounded as follows :

…containing therein 237.6 acres of land, or slightly less than one-half of one square mile.

It was signed by B. H. Dunlap, H. B. Noblett, C. H. Ritter, R. C. Rutledge, William Hamner and several other citizens.

The document was filed on March 23, 1915 in Brownsville, Texas.

On May 1, 1915, after the notice was posted and the election for mayor and two commissioners was held, Judge Yates declared B. H. Dunlap duly and legally elected mayor of said town and B. H. Noblett and W. A. Strickland duly and legally elected commissioners. Dunlap received 15 votes for mayor while B. H. Noblett received 14 votes and W. A. Strickland, 13 votes for commissioner.

Some of the ordinances passed by the Board of Commissioners were:

1. No animal, such as a horse, mule, jack, cow, hog, sheep or goat shall be permitted to run at large at any time within the corporate limits of the town. If convicted, the person own- ing said animal could be fined not less than one dollar and not more than $25.00 for each animal.
2. No automobile shall be driven or propelled along the streets, alleys or other public places of the town of La Feria at a greater rate of speed than fifteen miles per hour.

3. It shall be unlawful for any person to ride on, propel or be carried by, on or in a bicycle, tricycle, velocipede, buggy, wagon_, carriage, automobile, or any vehicle of any nature whatso- ever, or to ride or drive any animal of the equine species, on any well developed sidewalk, or stop on any street crossing of the town of La Feria, used by pedestrians, of any street in the town of La Feria, provided that this ordinance shall not apply to infants under the age of ten years.

General Store in La Feria circa 1928. Photo: LFN Archives. click to enlarge.

General Store in La Feria circa 1928. Photo: LFN Archives. click to enlarge.

The mayors of La Feria and their terms of office are as follows: Bailey H. Dunlap, Sr., 1915-1919; P. B. Branch, 1919-1921; A. W. Amthor, 1921-1923; Lee Reader, 1923-1924 (resigned); L. R. Beddoes, 1924-1933; A. H. Moore, 1933-1945; Frank R. Lucas, 1945-1949 (resigned); Joe L. Gavito, Jr., 1949-1951; J. A. Hawkins, 1951-1955; Virgil L. Roland, 1955-1957; Charles W. Graham, 1957-1963; William E. Holley, 1963-1969; Moore Matthews, 1969-1971; R. A. Love, 1971-1973; A. J. Wilson, 1973-1975; Scott Sloan, 1975-1977.

The first Occupation Tax license was granted to V. M. Villarreal to have a beer saloon within the corporate limits of the town of La Feria for a period of one year from June 22, 1915 to June 22, 1916. It cost $31.50 and was signed by R. B. Williams, the first tax assessor-collector of La Feria. He was allowed 10% of all property tax collected as his salary each month with an advance voucher drawn on May 6, 1916 for $23.20. There was an ad valorem tax of 25C on the one hundred dollars valuation.

On June 19, 1916, the Board of Commissioners directed the clerk, R. B. Williams, to draft a notice to be signed by the mayor requesting all citizens of the town to stay off the streets after 9:30 p.m. because of unsettled condition of affairs existing in this section of the county. This was in the days of the Banditos.

B. H. Dunlap was re-elected mayor of La Feria with five votes on April 3, 1917.

On December 14, 1917, it was voted that the town of La Feria dig a well and equip same with a windmill and sufficient pipe to supply water to the business district. Most of the supplies were bought at the South Texas Lumber Company, and the bill ran for over a year without being paid.

When P. B. Branch was mayor in February, 1920, it was voted to buy an engine and dynamo from Morse-Fairbanks Company for constructing sSlight plant for the town of La Feria. It cost $1,800.00 for the machinery which was at Donna, Texas; $200.00 was to be paid down with $800.00 due when the macinery was delivered and $800.00 was payable within twelve months.

In 1949, Mayor Frank Lucas signed documents for the $225,000 sewer-water department expansion bonds, readying La Feria for growth and improvement.

Western Union office in La Feria circa 1928. Photo: LFN Archives. click to enlarge.

Western Union office in La Feria circa 1928. Photo: LFN Archives. click to enlarge.


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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