El Paso County History 1922
El Paso County History Written in 1922
While the Texas Republic, after winning its independence in 1836, claimed the Rio Grande as its boundary from the mouth through all its sinuous course to the West and North, even beyond the City of Santa Fe in what is now New Mexico, and the Santa Fe expedition of 1841 was projected to establish the authority of the Republic in that quarter, this jurisdiction was really nominal and it required the success of the arms of the United States during the Mexican war of 1846-48 to actually establish the Rio Grande as the international border north and west to the 32° of latitude. Thus, that portion of Texas sometimes known as the. Western Panhandle, and included between the Pecos and Rio Grande and the line of New Mexico on the north, was a Mexican territory, inhabited almost entirely by Mexican people, until the forces of the United States invaded it at the time of the Mexican war and subsequently established their various military posts in that region, including Fort Bliss, Fort Davis and Fort Stockton.
In 1850 the Texas Legislature divided the Trans-Pecos country into two immense counties; El Paso and Presidio counties. El Paso County included the extreme western corner of the state, with an area of over 8,000 square miles, and this immense territory was reduced by the formation of Culberson County from its eastern half in 1911. In 1917 the county was reduced more than one-half by the creation of Hudspeth, which was organized, with Sierra Blanca as the county seat. The population of the county for successive decades from 1870 to 1910 includes figures also for the new counties of Culberson and Hudspeth. In 1870, El Paso County had a population of 3,671; in 1880, 3,845; in 1890, 15,678; in 1900, 24,886; in 1910, 52,599, including about 22,000 Mexicans and about 1,500 negroes ; in 1920, the population of El Paso County alone was 101,860.
Nearly all the population is grouped, either in the city of El Paso or the few towns along the railways, and the country districts are very sparsely inhabited. El Paso County has a mountainous surface, though there is much level land, and outside of the irrigation district along the Rio Grande and the industry centering in the city of El Paso, stock raising is the leading occupation.
In the mountains are found valuable deposits of marble and granite, copper and silver are found in the Quitman Mountains, and lead and zinc in the mountains near El Paso.
El Paso City is the center of the economic resources and the history of this region. This brief sketch of the county will refer only to some general statistics affecting the county as a whole, including the recently created Culberson County and still more recent Hudspeth County. The assessed value of taxable property in El Paso County in 1870 was $821,043 ; in 1882, after the railroads had come, $3,974,444 ; in 1903, $15,073,039; in 1909, before the separation of Culberson County, $38,455,297; in 1913, $45,693,385; in 1920, $64,276,830. In 1913, the assessed wealth of Culberson County was $4,617,206 ; in 1920, $4,372,564. The last census gave the following statistics concerning farming and live stock in what are now El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties. The total area at that time was 5,971,840 acres, and less than half was included in farms and ranches. The number of farms was 669, as compared with 318 in 1900, and the amount of "improved land" increased froin about 6,000 acres in 1900 to about 17,000 acres in 1910. In 1909 there were 446 irrigated farms, practically all of which were in the Rio Grande Valley, in El Paso County, and about $300,000 had been invested in irrigation improvements, and the total acreage watered was 23,308. The number of live stock comprised 94,966 cattle ; about 8,000 horses and mules ; 5,913 sheep, and 2,575 goats. In 1920, there were 6,750 cattle ; 1,925 horses and mules ; 1,600 sheep ; 5,200 goats. In 1909, 8,196 acres were planted in hay and forage crops, and a limited acreage in corn, oats, wheat and kaffir corn and milo maize. About 475 acres were in potatoes, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. There were 16,000 orchard fruit trees and about 36,000 grape vines. As to the land of the county outside of the Rio Grande Valley, a report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office in 1905 stated that over 2,000,000 acres were owned by the public school fund, and over 1,000,000 acres of university land. So far, the only profitable use to which they have been put is for cattle and sheep raising.
- History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.