Located on land known as Porcion 46, ceded by the crown of Spain to Don Jose Matias Tijerina in 1767, the community of Havana was named for Havana, Cuba, where Tijerina had stopped on his journey from Europe. Among the early settlers here were the families of Josefa de la Garza Salinas and Civil War Union soldier Patricio Perez. A frame church was built in 1891 and named for St. Joseph. Descendants of early settlers still live in the area. Many Havana pioneers are buried here in the Havana Cemetery. (1988)
Famed New York Infantry Regiment. Encamped in McAllen during 1916-1917 bandit trouble, guarding the border and preventing the smuggling of arms across Rio Grande to Pancho Villa. Tour of duty here seasoned the men for rigors of World War I, wherein regiment won undying glory in France.
Before colonization, this valley was a lush thicket of woodlands and brush, nourished with rich soil deposited by the Rio Grande. Throughout the lower valley landscape represented a broad variety of plants and animals. Types more common north of the river coexisted here with those more common to the south.
Land grants were made to the original Spanish settlers of the Rio Grande Valley in the 18th century. The divisions were called porciones, each a narrow strip of land with access to the river. The grant here was part of porcion 50, awarded to Jose Antonio Zamora by the ancient jurisdiction of Reynosa (Mexico). At the beginning of the 20th century, developers and farmers began large-scale clearing of the land. By the 1930s, much of the Rio Grande Valley had been cleared for citrus groves.
In 1944, more than 586 acres of native landscape here were saved and donated to the Texas State Parks Board. Cedar elm, hackberry, and mesquite mix with ebony, Mexican ash, and anaqua trees. Along with the brushlands, they provide habitat for countless mammals, reptiles, and resident and migrant birds. The park preserves a part of the valley’s ancient environment for the education and enjoyment of its visitors. The parkland was donated on January 28, 1944 to the State Parks Board by Lloyd M. and Edna Ruth (Dolly) Bentsen, and Elmer C. and Marie J. Bentsen.
Archer Park McAllen
This one-block-square tract of land was deeded to the city of McAllen for use as a public park in 1917, six years after the town was incorporated. The donor, Mayor Oliver Percy Archer (1869-1930), was a prominent local businessman and civic leader. The site was officially named for him in 1933 by the McAllen Board of City Commissioners. From 1936 to 1949 the McAllen Public Library was housed in the basement area of the bandstand. The site of many community activities and celebrations, Archer Park serves as a reminder of the early days of McAllen. (1981).
Battle of La Bolsa
In 1859 and early 1860 a series of raids on Texas settlements led by Juan N. Cortina (1824-1894) led to skirmishes with companies of Texas Rangers and U. S. soldiers. These conflicts became known as the Cortina War. On February 4, 1860, a battle occurred at La Bolsa Bend (ca. 1 mi. S.) between Cortina’s raiders and Captain John S. “Rip” Ford’s Texas Rangers. The Rangers successfully defended the riverboat “Ranchero”, traveling downstream from Rio Grande City, from an attack by Cortina’s band. Cortina escaped into Mexico and later became a general in the Mexican Army.