The Ranch

In honor of Texas Independence Day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about my favorite corner of Texas… my family’s ranch. My Daddy could tell you many more details, but I’ll share what I know.

On the southernmost tip of Texas, just before the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico, lies Palmito Ranch.

My family has witnessed a lot of Texas history on that ranch. It was first acquired by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Praxedes Orive, around the time that that part of Texas was switching hands from Spain to Mexico in the early 1800’s. (I’m not sure exactly when and although I think I remember my dad telling me why/how, I don’t remember that either).

My great-great-great-grandfather, Antenogenes Orive, was born on the ranch in 1845, the year Texas became a state in the Union. He used the ranch to grow cotton, and at some point during the Civil War the ranch was one of the most productive cotton producers in the United States. Someone once told me that this was because we were smuggling extra cotton from the ranch across the river in Mexico, but Mamo says she doesn’t think this is true. I know the ranch’s location by the river mouth did allow for convenient transport to the rest of the United States.
In May of 1865, the last battle of the Civil War was fought on my family’s ranch. It is known as the Battle of Palmito Ranch, and you can read more about it here. When I was little I was afraid that I’d see a Civil War ghost or something spooky but I never did.
Below is a picture the house Atenogenes and his wife Cenobia Hinojosa Orive lived in. They had 16 babies here – 14 survived. The girls would sit on the porch in the afternoons and try to stay out of the sun. Atenogenes Orive, Jr., my great-great-grandfather, also lived there. The house is no longer there. (Information courtesty of my distant cousin, Tía Cookie)
My great-grandmother, Carlota Orive, was also raised on Palmito Ranch. By that time, the ranch had been divided between all of the Orive children. When she grew up and got married, her husband, Damaso Feliciano (D.F.) Lerma, began buying pieces of the divided ranch from Carlota’s relatives. Mamo (my grandmother who ended up marrying D.F. and Carlota’s son) says they ended up acquiring about 1500 acres of the ranch, which is what our family has today.
My grandfather, pictured below, was the next person to take care of the ranch.

Mamo & my grandpa came up with this brand for the cattle. Another name for the ranch is “Circle L” ranch. (“L” is for Lerma, circle is for the shape of the ranch.)

Now, my Daddy takes care of the ranch.

And finally, here are some pictures of me growing up at the ranch. According to my mom, I was almost born there. When she went into labor with me, my dad was at work in town which is about 20-30 minutes away. She had to wait for him to come get her and had me shortly after arriving at the hospital.
My great-grandmother, Carlota Orive, and I with the Rio Grande in the background.

Me, Steph, and baby D.J.

We had so much fun at the ranch when we were kids. We would run around everywhere, play hide-and-seek, ride horses, and check out all the other animals. It’s crazy to think that my great-great-great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-grandmother, grandfather, and father (along with my aunties, uncles, etc.) all probably did the same things in the same exact place. I’m a little bummed that Eva won’t be raised around the ranch like we all were (until she’s about 10), but I hope she still ends up appreciating it the way I do. It’s my “Tara.” ♥


  1. Erica, this is really fantastic. You should add a tab on the right, “Family Historia” or “Mi Familia” or something along those lines and link the ranch and the family members / ancestor posts you have written up. Maybe you have it linked under “Texas?” Maybe it deserves a separate tab? This has become my personal favorite theme on your blog. I just don’t even know people with such a deep and rooted history like this. So many people are transplanted these days, and families live in all directions of the States (and apparently abroad). As a side note, my aunt lived in Texas for a long time, near Dallas (Frisco and Plano), and I didn’t love it, but I’ve long suspected I would like South Texas. You know, I’m beginning to realize I think of it as something of a separate state anyway.

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