The Latifundio of Los Vasquez Borrego began with my 7th great grandfather, El Capitan Jose Vasquez Borrego. Don Jose is described as being an adventurous and enterprising man- who amassed a great portion of Northern Mexico and what we know today as South Texas. His Many Haciendas/Ranchos that spanned four of the Northern Mexican states were: San Juan de Casta, Las Encinas, El Borrego, Las Sardinas, Hacienda San Juan del Alamo, San Ygnacio, Corralitos, Hacienda del Rosario and Nuestra Senora de los Dolores.

It is said that *Don Jose was a man of strong character; some might even use the phrase- of a harsh character.It is known to many of his descendants that he had been a political genius. It is also known that he was a grand manipulator who controlled his family, with the use of his purse strings. However his control over his descendants would be the main cause of the destruction within our family, and its salvation.

Through his lineage there were four Acaldes and two Governors – Don Jose Fernando Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego (1777-1778), Don Jose Maria Margil Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego (1814), Atanacio L. Vidaurri (1895) and Atanacio C. Vidaurri (1899). Acaldes of Laredo, TX., Don Francisco Vidaurri y Villasenor (1834) Governors of Coahuila y Texas. However the one that would fulfill Don Jose’s political ambition was his 2nd great- grandson: Don Santiago Vidaurri, “El Caudillo del Norte” Gobernador de Coahuila y Nuevo Leon 1808- 1867.

Don Jose Vasquez Borrego’s first marriage to my 7th great grandmother Dona Josefa de Imperial produced the following children: Don Juan Jose, Don Fernando, Don Macario, and y *Dona Manuela Vasquez Borrego y Imperial. However a complete search through the paper trail of countless baptismal records has yet to be completed. The birth order for the children is not known; what we do know is that Juan Jose had been the oldest and Fernando had been the youngest of his son’s.

The marriage between my 6th great grandparents *Don Juan Antonio de Vidaurri and *Dona Manuela Vasquez Borrego was partially a marriage made in heaven and a pact with the devil. Don Jose in many history books is described as being a strange man, with extreme eccentricities. My 7th great grandfather for an unknown reason to many researchers was the belief that he had one weakness, the one person that captured his heart- his daughter Manuela.

My opinion is that through a family of little boys that loved and feared Don Jose that the only girl was the one to introduce the word “No” to her self- disciplined father. This in truth was a reminder of himself. With this admission he chose to make Manuela and her offspring his primary heirs. Having this in mind he allowed Manuela to pick any husband of her choosing, something unheard of in those days.

The marriage between Juan Antonio and Manuela was approved under two conditions. The first was that the couple would reside near him and the second that the young couple handover their first two male children. Don Jose made plans to raise them as his own, and make them his heirs.

Juan Antonio y Manuela had twelve children, that turned up through the paper trail of baptismal records: D. Jose Fernando, D. Ramon Macario, D. Jose Ygnacio, D. Rita, D. Jose de Jesus Maria, D. Jesus Maria Lorenzo de San Jose, D. Rita Anna Veronica, D. Jose Maria Margil, D. Veronica, * D. Francisco, D. Maria Bencencia y D. Josefa Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego. This is not a complete search as Don Juan Antonio de Vidaurri’s last and will and testament has yet to surface for further study.

We do not know how my 6th great grandfather felt about giving up his two first-born children; we can only speculate that he loved Manuela and that he saw the bigger picture. His family would grow up with all the things he had lacked. It is rumored that he had been a natural son of a Jose de Vidaurri from Saltillo. Back then a natural son has a lot to overcome, Juan Antonio had been self- made and acquired his Hacienda San Bartolome in Coahuila circa 1741.

It had been love at first sight between Don Jose and the new-born baby the birth of Jose Fernando came with the promise of a new beginning. Don Jose raised Jose Fernando in his own image. Before the birth of his own children, Don Jose had been busy building an empire; he missed his own children’s childhood. Now in his late sixty’s he was able to devote himself to the joys of fatherhood. Don Jose adored the child that sought his company, the child that showed him respect out of love and not fear. Don Jose was a shrewd man, he was well aware of those who gave him respect out of fear and not love.

Don Jose had taken Jose Fernando in the early stages of infancy. The pressures of being the favorite grandson began at the age of twelve it was during this time that Don Jose taught Jose Fernando how to read and write. Shortly after, Jose Fernando was taught the art of administering his grandfather’s property. Jose Fernando became grandfather’s chief administrator and general consul.

Cuando desperte en mi la luz de la razon me conoci en compania de mi difunto abuelo, Don Jose Vasquez Borrego, creido que era mi padre: cuya inteligencia se acredita con el hecho que aun despues de zagalejo grande, de edad de doce anos que ya dicho mi abuelo me habia ensenado el mismo a leer y escribir. Me firmaba con el apellido de Borrego ~ Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego

Jose Fernando had been a of a mischievous sense of humor- every so often he would exercise his own free will just to see the expression on his grandfathers face. However once grandfather gave his sermon and lecture Jose Fernando would go back to being the dutiful son to the man who raised him. The tie that bonded them together was stronger than that of the umbilical cord- they were joined at the hip by unconditional love, and an unwavering sense of trust. Jose Fernando grew up to become an emotionally sound and secure young man.

I am of opinion that Don Jose chose to make his grandson’s his primary heirs because his own son’s were a disappointment to him. Don Jose had been a religious man, a strict man who believed in the union of matrimony. He did not believe that a man should have other women nor have children out of marriage. He like most Spaniards believed in not mixing his bloodline with those of inferior birth. Because Don Jose favored his grandsons through his daughter Manuela, this would cause the rift between the Vidaurri Borrego’s and the Vasquez Borrego’s. However this did not become apparent until after Don Jose’s death in 1770.

Luego que me vio mi tio sin el amparo de mi abuelo, empezo a correrme del rancho y a levanter me quimeras.
~ Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego

Jose Fernando was twenty-two years old when Don Jose arranged the second marriage that would allow his family to prosper into the future. The first marriage was between his nephew Don Bartolome Vasquez Borrego and Alejandra Sanchez de la Barrera. Bartolome died leaving Alejandra a young widow with two small children- Da. Josefa and D. Jose Francisco Borrego Sanchez. Don Jose took the opportunity to make another alliance between his family and Tomas Tadeo Sanchez de la Barrera y Garza (Falcon). He had Jose Fernando marry Alejandra in 1765. This was also when the priest informed Jose Fernando of his true parentage.

Llegue a la edad de veintidos anos (22) teimpo en que me incline a casar me; Y en este teimpo por las publicatas que se le leyeron en la iglesia, supe que mi apellido era Vidaurri, no el de Borrego que ra en que yo usaba; le pregunte al padre que me caso y me dijo que Borrego era mi abuelo, no mi padre; que este abuelo me habia criado y estimado como hijo desde la edad de pecho ~
Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego

Jose Fernando felt betrayed and disgusted with his grandfather’s action that he moved himself and his bride far away from him. After a year Don Jose finally convinced his heir to come home and assigned him his portion of his inheritance Corralitos.

Lo que sintio mucho dicho mi abuelo, e insto con esfuerzo a mi vuelta a su compania, lo que consigio con mi obedencia antes del ano, pues volvi a su compania por septiembre del ano 1766; y luego sin demora mando dicho mi abuelo se desocupara este rancho San Jose(Corralitos) en que vivo, de los bienes y vaqueros que habia en el suyos, para que entraran en el mis bienes y genta del servicio, diciendome que me daba este ranchito con sus agostaderos, como en remuneracion de lo que la habia servido agradecido, agradecido de mi obedience y amor.
~ Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego

However having been kept in the dark about who his father really had been caused a permanent rift between himself and his other siblings. They did not share the bond that infancy so often provides between adults. The rift between Ramon Macario and Jose Fernando was the viscous rumor of a carnal relationship between Ramon Macario and Alejandra. This would never heal. These two factors caused the beginning of the inside disputes between the Vidaurri Borrego’s.

The marriage between Jose Fernando and Alejandra Sanchez de la Barrera y Uribe produced ten children: Jose Alejandro, Jose Fernando Jr, Jose Indelfonso, Jose Manuel, Maria Encarnacion, Maria de la Luz, Maria Fabiana, Josefa de Jesus, and Leonor y Manuela. I am of opinion that Jose Fernando had loved the woman that he believed to have been his sister and named two of his children in her honor. Jose Fernando had been sentimental, and believed in the ties of family.

Family oral history mentions that Manuela died young. I speculate that she died sometime before or after 1765. It is said that Don Jose was so grieved, he found himself alone for the first time, that he beseeches Juan Antonio to allow him to raise his two youngest son’s- Jose Maria Margil and Francisco. Then Margil was almost six and Francisco was three. The difference this time was that they would know who their father was.

Don Jose felt that he was given another fresh start, with raising the two little boys that at first spent their nights crying out for the loss of their mother. These two- Margil and Francisco would forge a bond that would end up fulfilling Don Jose’s aspirations. It became these two Vidaurri Borrego children who would unite the family for all eternity.

After Don Jose’s death I am of opinion that it was Jose Fernando that became the legal guardian for Margil and Francisco. He like his grandfather raised them in his own image. There was a certain distinction between Jose Fernando, Ramon Macario, Margil and Francisco that their other siblings lacked. It can be best described as an overall sense of self-confidence, an innate sense of entitlement verging on generosity of spirit. The boy’s were not arrogant, but they knew their place in society and conducted themselves accordingly. They like their grandfather protected those who could not protect themselves.

Don Jose never gave up the illusion of trying to control his grandsons. The marriage between Margil and Josefa Borrego Sanchez was pre-arranged before his death. The product of this marriage was Juana Maria Vidaurri Borrego. My opinion is that between Margil and Francisco, it would be Margil who would be more inclined to please his grandfather and Jose Fernando; he would turn out to be the last Vidaurri to toil the soil on Dolores.

Francisco de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego would do his duty but only on the condition that he be allowed to live his life, until the moment came for him to marry. Francisco would himself shy out of the political arena, but the dreams and the ambitions of his grandfather became the finger prints on the souls of his children and grandchildren. It is through his lineage that the Vidaurri name became imbedded in Mexico’s history.

The time came for Francisco to marry, Don Jose chose for him my 5th great grandmother- *Maria Angela del Carmen Villasenor, they had the following children: D. Juan Jose,*D. Jose Antonio, D. Francisco, D. Pedro Jose and D. Juan Antonio Vidaurri Borrego y Villasenor. Prior to his marriage alliance, Francisco had several natural children by Rosa de la Cruz. One of these children was Pedro Jose Vidaurri Borrego y de la Cruz. We don’t know much about Pedro Jose except that he had been a soldier and that he married Maria Theodora Valdez. He was also the father of El Vidaurrismo- Santiago Vidaurri.

We are not sure how the marriage between Don Santiago Vidaurri Borrego y Valdez and Juana Maria Vidaurri Borrego came about. Perhaps it was the close bond between the two families’s, more then likely they saw a lot of each other and their mutual understanding of their family grew into love. This union produced three children: Indalecio, Pudenciana and Amelia.

By 1743 my 7th great-grandfather had become an established Hacendado. Prior to the settlement of Dolores (August 1750) he and his family had made San Juan del Alamo their primary residence. Don Jose’s oldest son- Juan Jose during that time had been his father’s general consul. It was Juan Jose who helped Don Jose decide on the exact location for the settlement of Dolores. Don Jose had founded Dolores at his own expense, brought with him thirteen families and fifty extra persons, and had the land augmented to include my 6th great-grandfather Don Juan Antonio de Vidaurri- who came with twelve additional families, fifty-one extra persons and livestock.

In 1757 Dolores had over 123 inhabitants this is when Capitan Tomas Tadeo Sanchez de la Barrera y Garza (Falcon) became one of great-grandfathers chief administrators. This afforded Don Tomas the opportunity to establish himself as a strong community leader- which led to the founding of present day Laredo, TX.

The Rancheros on Dolores did not have the same type of freedom that most settlers had in Camargo, Revilla and Reynosa. Don Jose was an authoritarian and instilled a strong military structure. Dolores instead of becoming a settlement remained a private estate and Don Jose kept the settlers on as his slaves.

The social structure resembled that of a medieval fiefdom.
~ Jerry Thompson

In order to keep Dolores a private estate- Don Jose orchestrated a plan to establish another Villa- to fill the void that Dolores created in remaining private property. Don Jose designed the blue print for La Villa de Laredo, and Capitan Tomas Sanchez was the perfect candidate to head up the project. Don Jose made the necessary arrangements to have Capitan Tomas Sanchez introduced to Don Jose de Escandon. The rest is now part of South Texas History.

Dolores like the rest of Don Jose’s haciendas was self-sufficient and resembled that of a manor. However farming had been difficult on Dolores, this is when Dolores became a prosperous ranching head quarters. When Capitan Jose Tienda de Cuervo made an inspection of Dolores in 1757, he found: 3,400 horses, 1,500 mules, 3,000 cattle, and 1,050 donkeys on the 329,000 acre estate.

My 7th great-grandfather had been a visionary; he used his military background as a tool to implement a unique form of cattle ranching- a method that spread like wildfire with the neighboring hacendados. The Comanche and Lipan Apaches that roamed that part of the Rio Grande were hostile- the raids were violent and often resulted in the losses of livestock and many women and children taken as captives.

To try and prevent the Indian raids, Don Jose established “A Flying Squadron“; this squadron consisted of twelve men mounted on identical gray horses. The men were menacing to behold in their uniforms of black leather, they also carried up to five different types of weapons. Their sole purpose was to patrol the grounds for potential Indian attacks and to protect Don Jose’s family, livestock and serfs. In today’s modern time this Flying Squadron is known as “The Texas Rangers.”

Don Jose was a man who openly displayed favoritism amongst his family. He tried to make amends to his son’s upon his death. Don Jose’s last will and testament has been lost, stolen, misplaced or destroyed. Therefore it is uncertain to determine who inherited the majority of his latifundio. What we know for certain through the last will and testament of Don Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego is that all of the land in South Texas was left to his mother and her family.

Family history tells us that when Don Jose’s eldest son, Juan Jose was executed with father Hidalgo in 1811 that the Spaniards sought retribution by confiscating and destroying all archived documents that proved ownership of the Vasquez Borrego y Vidaurri land grant.

There was also the misplacing of documents by in-laws to the Vidaurri Borrego’s in the late 1800’s. These in-laws sold out to Antonio Bruni and they were part conspirators in the murder of Alejandro Vidaurri.

Don Jose Fernando de Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego had seen first hand the conflict between the families that his grandfather caused in playing favoritism. It was his wish that his children get along; he wanted them to have the closeness that he himself lacked with his other siblings. Jose Fernando in trying to achieve that closeness left each of his ten children equal portions of the land grant. What Jose Fernando failed to see was that his grandfather had raised him and his three brothers so that they could control and grow the legacy which he had left them. Once Jose Fernando died, his children either sold their portions of the land grant amongst themselves or to outsiders.

Alejandro Vidaurri (Borrego) Sanchez shared the same passion for the land that his forbearers had before him. Alejandro was the Vidaurri that began buying pieces of the land grant from those family members that had no desire of living in the country. His grandson: Alejandro had been shot in the back by one of Antonio Bruni’s Foremen: Gonzalez, who was tried for murder and sentenced to life in prison.

However with the death of Alejandro also came the end of the Vasquez Borrego y Vidaurri land grant. Right or wrong, ethical or not Alejandro would have done what was necessary to preserve our family legacy.

After my 7th great-grandfathers death, it seemed that the families resolve to hold on to the vast land weakened, in all fairness the isolated ranch life was harsh and dangerous. (JFPV)

Celso Vidaurri was sixteen years old when his cousin Alejandro was murdered. It made an impression on him, when he was faced with losing his inheritance he declined the use of violence and took his chances with the legal system. Family history tells us that Antonio Bruni’s men came down to the Rancho and put chains and paddocks on the gate so that Celso could not get into his own ranch. Celso had been naive and loaned out the deeds to Corralitos to his nephew: Theodosio.

There are many unknowns as to the loss of the land. Webb county district had confirmed the Jose Vasquez Borrego grant in 1871 and had validated the heirs. Title to the land had been registered in the Webb county records, a copy of this could have been obtained as verification. Was Grandfather ignorant of this, or was he denied access to the record? Jose Felipe delaPena Vidaurri

When Celso asked for his deeds back to his property, Theodosio denied ever having borrowed them. There is a letter written to Celso by his sister, Theodosio’s mother confirming that he had indeed borrowed the deeds to the ranch. E. J Dryden and Theodosio both benefited by Celso Vidaurri losing his ranch to Antonio Bruni, they both received portions of the land grant as compensation. To make matters worse, Theodosio had the nerve to call his ranch “El Rancho Nuevo”.

What I suspect through the countless reading of vast material was that Don Jose left each of his chosen grandson’s an entailment on El Alamo and Rancho Encinas, the majority land owners were Don Fernando Vasquez Borrego and his descendents. The property was so vast that it was possible for all family members to reside on it without having to run into each other. More often than not they did not see much of one another other.

It is written in historical volumes that in 1815 the owner of Rancho Encinas and El Alamo was Fernando Vasquez Borrego and his son Macario Vasquez Borrego. We know that Sardinas was left to Don Jose’s son Macario Vasquez Borrego. The rest of the latifundio is in question. The paper trail for the property rights has not completely surfaced for further study. Therefore this is not an accurate account of the Vasquez Borrego latifundio.

It is my opinion the Vasquez Borrego latifundio began to deteriorate due to lack of family unity amongst Don Jose heirs. The majority of the latifundio on the Mexican soil was lost due to the ongoing disputes with boundary issues. Something common in the hacienda system.

Sometimes to determine where one hacienda begins and another ends, a historical marker is used. In this case the neighboring hacienda to El Alamo was the Garza-Falcon Hacienda Nuestra Senora de los Dolores: Owned by Manuel Francisco Sanchez Navarro. The historical marker was a hill named Cacanapos- with the changing of time both hills to the east and west of the haciendas were referred to as Cacanapos.

The issue had been taken to court in 1762 with the Vasquez Borrego’s being the victors. However the issue resurfaced again in 1788, only this time the dispute was between the Sanchez Navarro’s and the Vasquez Borrego’s. Because of the two families involved, no court judge or civil servant wanted any part of settling the dispute. The case became enmeshed in the legal system for seven years, making the Sanchez Navarro’s the victors in 1795. However the Vasquez Borrego’s filed an appeal that would not be resided upon until 1802, once again leaving the Sanchez Navarro’s the victors. It was not until 1804 that both families reached a compromise in how to deal with the final verdict.

Legal disputes were dealt with the losing party paying all of the incurred court fees by both sides. However the court fees reached an astronomical amount that the Vasquez Borrego’s could not meet. The Sanchez Navarro’s gave the Vasquez Borrego’s an interest free loan in exchange for the usage of their salt licks and grazing pasture. This loan would not be due for fifteen years. The amount of the loan was fifteen thousand Pesos.

The collateral was the property rights to El Alamo and Las Encinas. However, when the agreement was made- the Sanchez Navarro’s knew that the Vasquez Borrego’s would be unable to pay back the loan. Like most hacendados the Vasquez Borrego’s were wealthy in terms of land, cattle i.e. livestock, not in liquid. Cold hard cash was a hard commodity to come by in those days.

In 1819 the Sanchez Navarro’s called in the loan, and took possession of El Alamo and Las Encinas. It was not until 1855 that Don Santiago Vidaurri came to power- he single-handedly righted all wrongs and injustices that his family endured after the death of his 2nd great-grandfather: Don Jose Vasquez Borrego. Santiago returned El Alamo and Las Encinas back to his family. However the revolution of 1910 reclaimed the Vasquez Borrego latifundio, financially wiping out all branches of the family that resided on Mexican soil.

Some of us knew our place in society and made the appropriate marriages and then there were those like my grandmother that defied family duty and tradition. My sisters and I grew up ignorant of our family legacy, but we like my distant cousins sensed the urgency and also moved forward.

It took years and tenacity of will for the different branches of my family to overcome two executions, a murder and the Mexican Revolution, not to mention the Civil War. Today a portion of the original Las Encinas is owned by Patricio Milmo Hernandez.

It was bequeathed to him by his father, Patricio Milmo Hickman who had it bequeathed to him by his father: Patricio Milmo Vidaurri. Along with the gift of the property came the gift of our family legacy. I am grateful for that gift, grateful to Patricio for having held on to what is now left of the Vasquez Borrego latifundio.

My wish is that the importance of ownership, of the latifundio that my 7th great-grandfather amassed will one day belong to us again. I am left humbled and grateful for the decisions that were made by all of those that came before me. Right or wrong, ethical or not, we are all here because of them. When I think of my ancestors, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of love. We are Los Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego de Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas y Texas and we will continue to move forward.

“Settlement of Dolores 1750” Translation by Edna G. Brown 1994 Volume 1
“A Mexican Family Empire” by Charles H. Harris
“A Wild and Vivid Land” by Jerry Thompson
“Tomas Sanchez de la Barrera” by Jose Antonio Esquibel
Dn. Jose Fernando de Vidaurri’s last will and testament provided by Jose Felipe delaPena Vidaurri
All editorials provided by Jose Felipe delaPena Vidaurri
Verbal conversations with Miguel Angel Munoz Borrego
“Los Vidaurri de Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas y Texas” by Jose Felipe delaPena Vidaurri (revised edition)
Verbal conversations with Jose Felipe delaPena Vidaurri