Federico Villalba's Texas, by Juan Casas
ISBN: 978-0-9745048-6-5, Trade Paper
Federico Villalba who, as a young man, moved with his family from old San Gerònimo, Chihuahua in the 1880s to begin ranching near the village of San Carlos, near Lajitas, Texas. He prospered and eventually crossed over the Rio Grande to settle and ranch at Burro Mesa. There, Villalba married, built his herd of cattle and angora goats, discovered cinnebar and opened a store at Cerro Villalba (later Study Butte) and a leather goods store in Santa Elena.
Federico Villalba´s life was filled with excitement, challenge, and victory; nevertheless, tragedy also played a hand. The Big Bend country was a dangerous place in those days, especially for those of Mexican descent. Men carried guns and were not reluctant to use them.
"The first part of the book contains many short segments which taken together give a snapshot picture of aspects of life in South Brewster County at that time as well as advancing the story: punching cattle, bootlegging, fiesta, holding the family together. Occasionally a wider lens is used to describe the increasingly violent mood which enveloped the area as the Mexican Revolution started and as anti-Mexican sentiment grew."
In a lively and engaging style, Juan Manuel Casas gives us this narrative history of his great-grandfather, Federico Villalba and his family. This is a significant contribution to the literature of the Big Bend and the first to represent the Mexican point of view during its early years of settlement.
"Federico Villalba (d. 1933) and his son Jacobo (d. 1924) both lie in Terlingua cemetery. Their graves are likely to receive more attention now that a biography of Federico Villalba has just been published. The book is not just the story of a Mexican immigrant who prospered in Big Bend between 1882 and 1933; it is also a picture of troubled times along a volatile border; and, most important, it is the first history of the area written from a Mexican point of view."