An old vellum map sits in the back of a land file recently acquired by the East Foundation archive. The file, part of a group of files donated by Mike East, was labeled “T.T. East – Box 10B, 4503 acres, Share 3, Santo Domingo de Arriba Grant.” The map was prepared by T.D. Crothers, and is dated March, 1900. Scaled at 2,000 varas to the inch, the Crothers’ map represented more than 75,000 acres. Crothers was focused on what was then the Randado properties in what was, in 1900, Starr County (present day Jim Hogg County).
This is a great historical map – and covers much of what eventually became the northern 1/3 of the East Foundation’s San Antonio Viejo Ranch. In making the map, Crothers mainly used the boundaries of the original Mexican Land Grants of El Randado, Las Moritas, La Noria de Santo Domingo, and Santo Domingo de Arriba. However, the northern half of the original La Noria de Santo Domingo had since become part of the Jesus Maria Ranch, and that land was designated as such on the map. The Jesus Maria was further separated into three pastures, one being the Coloraditas. Several decades after Crothers made his map, the 10,000 acre Coloraditas pasture became part of the San Pablo Ranch owned by Tom East’s brother Arthur, and his wife Sarita Kenedy East. After the passing of Sarita Kennedy East in 1961, the Coloraditas pasture belonged to the Lytton family, and then it was eventually purchased by Robert C. East. After at least four ownership transfers, the Coloraditas pasture is now part of the San Antonio Viejo ranch.
The Crothers map shows two water wells in the Coloraditas pasture – these are named “Coloraditas” and “San Rafael.” Both of these wells, over 115 years later, are still operating and they still go by the same names. Additional water wells – five in all – have been added over time. But the two original wells remain important water sources for that pasture.
Surrounding the Coloraditas windmill is a waterlot of several acres with a gate that was put in place while the land was still part of the San Pablo Ranch. The gate itself has the Laurel Leaf brand on it. According to Jane Patie’s description of the Leonard Stiles Brand Collection, the Laurel Leaf brand was originally registered in 1868 in Nueces County by Mifflin Kenedy. After several transactions, and including at one time being owned by Henrietta King, the brand fell into the possession of Sarita Kenedy East and was used at the San Pablo Ranch.
There are 2 fences leading into the Coloraditas water lot. They were designed so as to create a lane for cattle to access water from a pasture that at one time had its western edge about a quarter mile to the east. These two fences are sound, straight and sturdy – but they definitely have some age on them. Looking close, one can see that these fences are different – they are made with slick, thick-gauged steel. Each of the four galvanized wires are strung through hand-drilled holes in each of the original fence posts. Except where there was an occasional post that had been added over the last several decades, there were no fence staples.
This fence is the same as the old original fences built on the Kenedy and King Ranches, most of which were built prior to the 1900s. Those original fences were constructed from wire that was brought from Belgium as ship ballast. Those original fences, built in the 1870s, were constructed with cypress posts shipped from Louisiana. Holes were bored through each post, and the heavy wire was kept tight using a ratchet that was permanently mounted at corners and H-braces.
It is hard to know the exact age of the fence at the Coloraditas Water Lot. Could it have been constructed prior to 1900 when most of the other slick-wire fences were made? Or was it constructed later, while under the Laurel Leaf brand when Arthur and Sarita Kenedy East owned the land? In the end it might not matter that much.
What does matter is that we pass along some of the century-old legacies that are still working on the land. Appreciating the fact that water wells and fences are still working and doing their job after 100 years is a good departure from our fast-paced world. Old things that still work long after those that build them are gone tend to give us perspective and they remind us that we are only stewards.