AGUA NEGRA RANCH CEMETERY
Hidalgo Co. Cemeteries of Tx
Submitted by email@example.com (typed from records provided by surveyors)
Surveyed by Goldsby Goza and Fran Isbel on January 19 and 26, 1980.
COPYRIGHT HIDALGO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Location: South of Military Highway *US 281) below Weslaco, .6 mile west of intersection of FM 88 with US 281. It is north of the river levee astride a dirt road that begins just west of San Pedro Ranch and runs south past Agua Negra Blanco on the east to the levee. It is about 700 feet south of US 281 on a brushy knoll among cultivated fields.
Surveyed: Joe Fallin and Dale Swartzmill, April 9, 1977. Resurveyed by Bill Machete, Fran Isbell and Richard Drawe, July 6, 1990.
Perspective: Boveda faces south, other graves face east. Census was conducted west to east. This abandoned cemetery is lost among brush and old trees. It is bisected by a 20-foot wide dirt road, with a turnout on the west side. On the west side of the road is a dilapidated old brick boveda (crypt about 4’ w x 8’ l x 5’ h) with a cross on the south side. No inscription was found on this structure. There is another possible unmarked grave near the boveda. On the east side of the road, hidden in brush in an areas 25 x 50 feet, are three old graves. Cemetery area is about 100 feet east to west, and 50 feet north to south.
HISTORY: Agua Negra (Spanish for black water) Cemetery is located on a 20 acre strip farm owned by Malcolm Moore of Weslaco, lying east of the farm properties of Richard Drawe of Nogal Farms, Proreso. This cemetery lies in the second share (3325 varas river frontage) of the Llano Grande Land Grant awarded by Spain to Juan Jose Hinojosa in 1769, and inherited by his daughter Josefa, who sold it to her brother-in-law, Matias Cavazos. His son, Lino Cavazos, inherited the east 900 varas (2520 feet) river frontage (extending 14 miles north and including the future site of Weslaco).
Lino’s son, Domiciano, was born at Agua Negra Ranch in 1830. The Mexican government granted La Blanca Land Grant, on which Asadores Ranch was located, to Lino Cavazos in 1834. Lt. W. H. Chatfield, adjutant at Fort Brown, identified Agua Negra as an important ranch on the Rio Grande in 1893. The 1880 Hidalgo County census showed 34 families living at Agua Negra Ranch, including Florencio Saenz, later owner of Toluca Ranch.
According to an affidavit made August 28, 1905 by E. R. Jefferds, justice of the peace, Abundio Cantu (believed buried in the boveda on the ranch) was killed by an accidental gunshot wound on July 4, 1899. Jefferds sated that Cantu’s family lived at or near Toluca Ranch and consisted of his mother Guadalupe C. de Cantu, brothers and sisters, Francisco, Rodrigo, Angelina (Mrs. Felix Cano), Bonifacio, Dolores de Cavazos, and Rafaela Cavazos, and ten nieces and nephews.
Abundio Cantu was an adjacent land owner on the east of Agua Negra Ranch, since he had purchased 100 varas river front x 5000 varas north to south in the third share of the Llano Grande Grant from Delfina R. de Reyna in 1898, and 100 varas lake front (i.e. north of Llano Grande lake) from Sotero de Leon and his wife Abelina Cano, heirs of Felix Cano and his wife, Angelina Cantu. Emilia Schunior Ramirez identifies Sotero de Leon as the most prominent rancher at Agua Negra Ranch after 1850.
All of the Llano Grande Land Grant Share 2 (the 1.3 miles river frontage west of FM 88) was acquired by the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company of Mercedes by 1905, for construction of a major surface irrigation system and development.
Moore purchased the old Steel place in 1940, and lived in the frame house 200 yards west of the cemetery. Mr. Steel may have built the house around 1909; it had square nails. In any case, it is likely that an earlier ranchhouse may have occupied the same site, since owners customarily located the cemetery close to the ranchhouse. Moore cleared the land, which was in brush when he bought it.
There was a deep rutted trail or wagon road leading from the old Military Telegraph Road through the cemetery to the riverbank, and people used to visit the cemetery as late as the 1940s.
When Moore and his wife moved to Progreso in late 1940, the house became headquarters for the ranch foreman and a tractor yard. He also had a large bracero shed to house contract farm workers from Mexico. The braceros claimed to see a white horse emerge from the cemetery and fly away in the night.
The boveda was broken into in the fall of 1989, exposing bones which were otherwise undisturbed. Moore had the top of the boveda re-cemented.
This area is an overflow for the Rio Grande, and since 1940, the river has cut back of quarter mile north, removing about 20 acres of Moore’s farmland to Mexico. In the late 1960s, the Corps of Engineers cleared off the cypress trees and other hardwoods along the riverbank; as a result, Hurricane Beulah drove the river into new channels. Efforts to stabilize the riverbank were unsuccessful when the logs floated away. The trees have not been able to reestablish themselves because of the irregular rise and fall of the Rio Grande.
Sources: Chain of Title. Llano Grande Land Grant, 2d and 3d Shares Partition of 1848. San Antonio 1912. (Includes affidavit of Domiciano Cavazos, grandson of Matias Cavazos and born at Agua Negra Ranch in 1930. 1903).
Dept. of Interior, Geologic Survey Map 7.5 Series. Progreso and San Juan East Quadrangles.
Map Llano Grande Land Grant. Field Notes of a Survey of 28 square leagues and 20,492.463 square varas of Land. Hidalgo County, Texas. W. R. Dougherty, Surveyor, 1879.
Chatfield, W. H. Twin cities of the Border.
No identifiable grave sites.