Laredo, Texas is on the Rio Grande in South Texas. It was established in 1755 when Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza was granted permission by José de Escandón to form a new settlement about thirty miles upriver from Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Hacienda in what is now Zapata County. Altogether Escandón founded twenty towns and eighteen missions in an attempt to stop French invasion into Spanish territory and to spread the Christian faith throughout the various Indian tribes in the region.

From 1755 to 1760 Laredo did not have a clergy that lived there, but the town was visited by Franciscans who were stationed about 60 miles downriver. Escadon instituted a communal system to try to cut down on fighting and the formation of land monopolies. Colonists were reluctant to make improvements if they did not own the land, and in 1767 the viceroy, or ruler of the colony, appointed a commission to partition the land in Nuevo Santander. In Laredo there were 89 porciones (portions of land), each having a river frontage of a half mile and a depth of about 15 ½ miles. 23 of the porciones were not assigned because people did not want them.

Though no Indians lived at Laredo initially, groups of Carrizo, Borrado, and Lipan would sometimes come to trade with the natives after the community was created. The commissioner set aside a place for the Indians to move to in case they wanted to stay. In 1767 or 1768 Father Gaspar José de Solís, while on a visit to the Texas missions, sent a group of Indians to Laredo for religious instruction. In addition to seeing to the distribution of land, the commissioners raised Laredo to the status of a villa, a town with a governing body.

Source: Laredo
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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