SAN ANTONIO – As New Spain was developing the area we now know as Texas, explorers started developing the land around the missions into ranchos, which is Spanish for ranches.
“When those first expeditions come along, those men came with supplies, horses and cattle,” TexasTejano.com historian Rudi Rodriguez said. “Those cattle are going to be the first time that livestock comes into Texas.”
Because of that, livestock ranches would soon emerge in the southern and eastern parts of the state and by 1721 the first mission ranches can be found around San Antonio.
One of those ranches is “Rancho de Las Cabras” in Wilson County which was the ranching outpost for Mission Espada.
Another key development Tejanos brought to ranching is bringing in and breeding longhorns from Spain.
“They come to Texas and they multiply incredibly,” Rodriguez said. “It’s reported that close to a million head of livestock are here by the mid-1700s.”
Besides the breeding of livestock, within the ranches you start seeing the important role vaqueros (Spanish for cowboys) had in making the ranches successful.
They manage the livestock and develop the science of ranching.
The vaquero has been around for over 200 years before coming to Texas and they bring along their equipment and knowledge.
“The vaqueros produce ultimately what we know as the cowboy and ranching, which creates that environment, society and culture we all honor today,” Rodriguez said.
All this is important as it shows the first key roles Tejanos played in developing the ranching industry and Texas.