The town of Laredo, Texas is on the Rio Grande in South Texas. It was established in 1755 when José de Escandón granted permission to Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza to form a new settlement. Altogether Escandón founded twenty towns—including Laredo and El Paso—and eighteen missions, trying to stop French invasions into Spanish territory and to spread the Christian faith to the Indian tribes.

From 1755 to 1760 Laredo did not have a local clergy, but Franciscans stationed 60 miles downriver occasionally visited. Escadón set up a communal system to try to reduce fighting and the formation of land monopolies. Colonists were unwilling to make improvements if they did not own the land. In 1767 the viceroy (ruler of the colony) appointed a commission to partition the land in Nuevo Santander. In Laredo there were 89 portions of land, each with a river frontage of a half mile. Twenty-three of the portions were not assigned because people did not want them.

Even though no Indians initially lived at Laredo, groups would sometimes come to trade with the settlers. The commissioner set aside a place for the Indians if they decided to stay. In 1768, Father Gaspar José de Solís visited the Texas missions. He sent a group of Indians to Laredo for religious instruction. The commissioners distributed land and raised Laredo to the status of a villa, which was a town with a governing body.

Source: Laredo
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

Back to top