Local Collection Historical Events
Tribute to President Nelsen
Dr. Nelsen has been a familiar presence on campus and in the community. He attends athletic events with the students, greets staff on the walkways, promotes faculty excellence, and volunteers in the community. There are many stories that have been written in the newspapers about Dr. Nelsen. The UTPA Library Archives wants to hear from you! Help us collect the history of this popular president. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by Special Collections and let us know your stories.
Astronomy on campus
The college observatory was the first building on the current Edinburg, or West Campus. It was built in 1956 to house Professor Paul R. Engle's 17 inch reflecting telescope. In 1962 the first Astronomy course was offered. The Astro-Science program expanded in the 60s to include a new Planetarium built in 1963, and work with the astronautics laboratory, rocket range, and astronomical instruments at Moore Air Base north of Mission. The Bachelor Degree Program in Astronomy at Pan American University was discontinued in May, 1973.
Hidalgo County Courthouses
|1886 2nd Courthouse||1910 4th Courthouse|
Designs for a new 10 story courthouse have been submitted and approved by the Hidalgo County commissioners, although it has not yet been funded. When it is built, this will be the sixth courthouse in Hidalgo County. The first photograph shows the second courthouse built in 1886 in the town of Hidalgo. Our county population in 1880 was 4,347. The third courthouse built, and the first in the town of Edinburg, was a temporary barn-style wooden building when the county seat moved in 1908. The fourth courthouse (second photograph) was an elegant Spanish style building completed two years later in 1910. The county population at that time was 13,728. In 1954 after the county population had grown to over 160,440 the fifth and current courthouse was built. Our current county population is estimated at 815,996 and Hidalgo County has once again outgrown its courthouse. More information about Hidalgo County and its courthouses may be found in the Library Special Collections Room 112 (just past the Circulation Desk on the left).
Medical School in the Valley
|The Edinburg Daily Review, March 2, 1975|
40 years ago, before Pan American University joined with the University of Texas System, a bill was introduced in March 1975 by Congressman Ruben Torres of Brownsville and Senator Raul Longoria of Pharr to establish a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. The bill was for the establishment of a medical branch of the University of Texas System to be known as The University of Texas Medical School of the Rio Grande Valley. The bill was later changed to create a medical school through Texas Women’s University with a campus in Fort Worth, and another campus in the Valley. The dream ended two years later in March 1977 when the Texas Coordinating Board for Colleges and Universities rejected the proposal.
History of Presidents
|H.C. Baker, First President of Edinburg College, 1927-1930|
In May 2014 Dr. Guy Bailey was appointed as the first President of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. As UTPA prepares to transition to UTRGV and start another exciting new chapter in its history, we thought we would take a brief look at our school’s past leaders. Edinburg College was founded as a two-year college in 1927, the first campus was located on the Edinburg High School Campus. The first President of Edinburg College, H. C. Baker, served as both the Superintendent of Schools for the Edinburg School District, as well as the President of the College. In addition to Baker, the campus has been served by eight other presidents including:
- H. U. Miles, President, 1930 – 1931
- R. P. Ward, Director of College / President, 1931-1944 and 1946-1959
- H. A. Hodges (who served as Acting Director while R. P. Ward was in military service from 1944-1946, and after Ward’s resignation in 1960)
- Ralph Schilling,President, 1960-1981
- Miguel Nevarez, President, 1981 – 2004
- Blandina Cardenas, President, 2004-2009
- Charles A. Sorber, Interim President, 2009
- Robert S. Nelsen, President, 2010 – Present
On the Road
|Image from 1955 Rio Grande Valley Telephone Directory|
Before you hit the road this summer, come check out everything we have on travel, roads, trains, maps and things to do in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Did you ever wonder when Business 83 was built? Come see our archival Hidalgo County records including a petition signed in March 1908 requesting a public road parallel with St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexican Railway from Mamie station via McAllen, Ebeneezer, Donna to Mercedes. Don’t recognize the towns of Mamie and Ebeneezer? We also have archival maps! More information may be found in the Library Special Collections Room 112 (just past the Circulation Desk on the left).
|Photograph from The Monitor, Friday, April 17, 1992|
Cascarones are a uniquely southern Texas and northern Mexico tradition. Eggs were used as a symbol of spring, new life, and birth in many early civilizations. Early Christians associated eggs with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent, and any eggs laid during that time were hard boiled to help preserve them. They were then eaten as a special treat after Lent. Easter traditions throughout the northern regions of Europe and America center around dyed and colored hard boil eggs. The eggs were hard boiled and colored before easter, hidden, and then enjoyed by the family after the Easter egg hunt. The cascaron (egg shell) is a southern European tradition originally brought from China by Marco Polo. It became popular in Italy, Spain, and France and finally introduced to Mexico. Originally cascarones were filled with perfumes or scented powders. Filling the cascarones with confetti is a uniquely Mexican tradition. More information about cascarones and other traditions may be found in the Library Special Collections Room 112 (just past the Circulation Desk on the left).
The Republic of the Rio Grande
|Photograph from Images of The Republic of the Rio Grande; Texans in Mexico, 1839-40 LRGV F390.L5 c.1 1964|
In January, 1840 the short-lived, and little-known Republic of the Rio Grande was formed. This was a time when Mexico had recently gained her independence, and Texas had formed its own republic. Texas had not yet been annexed by the United States and the Republic’s southern boundary was still under dispute, some claiming it should be the Rio Grande, and others claiming it should be the Nueces River. The U.S. – Mexican boundary would not be set for another eight years after the Mexican American War and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
In Mexico there was a struggle between Centralists who believed the power should be centralized in Mexico City, and Federalists who believed far-flung areas, such as the northern states along the Rio Grande should retain more power and control over their lands and people. Federalists met in Laredo in January, proclaimed the Republic of the Rio Grande by constitutional convention, named Laredo as its capitol, and claimed the areas of Tamaulipas and Coahuila north to the Nueces and Medina rivers, respectively, and Nuevo León, Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, and New Mexico.
The leaders of the Republic of Rio Grande traveled to San Antonio, Houston, and Austin seeking support, as they fought against Mexican Centralists at Morales and Saltillo in Coahuila to Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas. Early in November, 1840, Antonio Canales, one of the major leaders of the Republic of the Rio Grande, capitulated to Centralists at Camargo, Mexico, The dream of the Republic of the Rio Grande died, just 10 short months after its inception.
Bethlehem on the Rio Grande
|Painting by Stephen T. Rascoe|
"Each year the Nativity story is told at La Encantada in a Spanish folk play 800 years old." Read a page from Bethlehem on the Rio Grande by Minnie C. Gilbert.
La Lomita and the mystery of Father Keralum, “the Martyr of Hidalgo County”
|Photograph from Images of Mission LRGV F394.M57 I43 2003 p.29|
141 years ago in November 1872 Father Pierre Yves Kéralum (1817–1872?) of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate rode out on his horse to complete his circuit of ranches to perform religious services. In 1872, people and ranches were far between, and towns and churches even more distant. Priests rode the circuit a few times a year in order to provide services to those ranches where there were otherwise few options for baptisms, marriages, catechisms, and sermons. Father Kéralum made it to his first destination, the Tampacuas Ranch north of Mercedes, but never arrived at Las Piedras Ranch which was only 18 miles distant. Despite intensive searches at the time Father Kéralum was not found until 10 years later in November 1882 when his bones were found in the brush lying next to his Holy Chalice, his watch, and his golden cross.
La Lomita Chapel was built by the Fathers of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to aid in their travels throughout the harsh country amongst the wide-spread ranches of the Rio Grande Valley. The lands for La Lomita were willed to the Oblate priests Pierre F. Parisot and Pierre Y. Kéralum by René Guyard, a French merchant from Reynosa. The town of Mission is named in honor of La Lomita Mission. La Lomita ("little hill") served as a way-station between two of the biggest towns north of the river at the time: Brownsville and Roma, and served as a central location for the sixty-five or so ranches in Hidalgo County. St. Peter’s Novitiate, a large three-story brick building, was built nearby on top of the hill. In 1975 La Lomita was entered in the National Register of Historic Places. La Lomita is located off Farm Road 1016 near the Rio Grande five miles south of Mission. More information about Father Kéralum and La Lomita may be found in the Library Special Collections Room 112 (just past the Circulation Desk on the left).
National American Indian & Alaskan Native Heritage Month
|Photograph from Returning Lipan Apache women's laws, lands, & power in El Calaboz Rancheria, Texas-Mexico border = Nádasi'né' nde' isdzáné begoz'aahi' shimaa shini' gokal gowa goshjaa ha''áná'idilí texas-nakaiyé godesdzog LRGV E99.L5 T36 2010a p.554|
The first American Indians lived in this region hundreds of years before the first European walked along the Rio Grande. Unfortunately little is known about the original inhabitants; they did not leave histories of their tribes, and the Spanish had little interest in keeping complete and accurate records of tribes, customs, or languages. Archaeological explorations and artifacts such as arrowheads have helped to build a better picture of the first inhabitants, yet there is still much more we can learn. There were originally two primary groups of tribes in this region. The Karankawas lived along the Gulf Coast, and a loosely-named collection of tribes called the Coahuiltecans lived in what is now southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. During the 1700s Europeans expanded into Indian territories from the north and from the south, displacing tribes such as the Comanches, who then displaced other tribes such as the Lipan Apaches.
Today Lipan Apache Indians and other regional tribes are still active, attending meetings and holding Powwows. More information about Native Americans in the Lower Rio Grande Valley may be found in the Library Special Collections Room 112 (just past the Circulation Desk on the left).
On October 15, 1990 Africanized Honey Bees, commonly termed Killer Bees, were first sighted near the city of Hidalgo, Texas. In 1992 Mayor John David Franz of Hidalgo unveiled a 10 foot tall statue of a killer bee. Visit the city of Hidalgo to see the Killer Bee, and while you are there visit the old county courthouse and jail built in 1886, and the Hidalgo Pump House Museum. More information about killer bees and things to do and see in the Lower Rio Grande Valley may be found in the Library Special Collections.