Weslaco

Weslaco, about fifteen miles west of Harlingen in south central Hidalgo County, is on U.S. Highway 83 and Farm Road 88. The site was part of the Llano Grande grant to Juan José Ynojosa de Ballí (1790). Upon Ynojosa's death the grant was divided among his children, and Manuela and María received the land on which Weslaco is situated. The Ballí family ranched and maintained ownership until 1852. In 1904 the Hidalgo and San Miguel extension of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway reached the site, promoted by Uriah Lott, Lon C. Hill, Jr. and others interested in developing the area through farming as opposed to traditional Hispanic ranching. The American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company of neighboring Mercedes, which had interest in the railroad, purchased a major portion of the Llano Grande grant and platted the West Tract in 1913. In an effort to control raids from Mexico, the United States government stationed troops along the Rio Grande in 1916 and established a camp at the Llano Grande railroad depot, located between Mercedes and the site of Weslaco. The guardsmen erected a watchtower at Progreso. On December 14, 1917, the irrigation company sold 30,000 acres at ninety dollars an acre to the W. E. Stewart Land Company, from which the name Weslaco is derived. The Stewart Company sold the townsite to Ed C. Couch, Dan R. Couch, R. C. Couch, and R. L. Reeves. The site was surveyed and platted on September 18, 1919, by H. E. Bennett, a civil engineer hired by Ed Couch and R. L. Reeves, whose partners had backed out of the venture in fear of failure. Neighboring communities distributed leaflets discouraging settlement at the proposed town. Nevertheless, the sale of lots was held on December 8–10, 1919, with prices ranging from $50 to $400 per lot. To make a claim, individuals had to choose a lot and camp on it until the day of the sale, during which lots were given free to church groups. The town's promoters gave away three cars during the sale. Mail in Weslaco was received from Mercedes until 1920, when Weslaco's first post office was opened. Also established in 1920 were the chamber of commerce, the Guaranty State Bank, and the Community House. Elementary school classes were held at the Community House, and high school students were driven to Donna. The first issue of the Weslaco News was published on October 29, 1920. Electricity came in December 1920 from the Donna Light and Ice Company. In 1921 the Weslaco Independent School District was established, the first high school opened, and the Texas Rangers opened a Weslaco station. The Valley Experiment Station was established in 1923 under the auspices of Texas A&M. It was later renamed Texas A&M University Agricultural Research Center. The Weslaco Fire Department was established in March 1924.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Weslaco is classified as a Town

Locations

  • Latitude
    26.15981970
    Longitude
    -97.98643700

Has Post Office

Yes

Is Incorporated

Yes

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Weslaco by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Weslaco
Pop. Year Source
41,287 2019 Texas Demographic Center
35,670 2010 Texas Demographic Center
26,935 2000 Texas Demographic Center
22,739 1990 Texas Demographic Center
19,331 1980 Texas Demographic Center
15,313 1970 Texas Demographic Center
15,649 1960 Texas Demographic Center
7,514 1950 Texas Demographic Center
6,883 1940 Texas Demographic Center
4,879 1930 Texas Demographic Center