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San Benito
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The San Benito Historical Society, founded in 1995, compiled this book with images from townspeople and from its own collection. The mission of the historical society is to chronicle, protect, and preserve the history and cultural heritage of San Benito.

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Title: San Benito History
Author: Fernando Del Valle
Publisher: Valley Morning Star
Date: 2/15/2010


Covered wagons and Model T Fords ramble along dusty downtown streets.
Rows of tents stand as soldiers ride horseback to guard against border bandits. Workers dig the irrigation canals that will turn the Rio Grande Valley into an agricultural hub.
Old photographs help tell the story of the frontier town that grew along the railroad tracks in the new book San Benito: Images of America, San Benito Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing.
We have such a unique history in San Benito, with the resacas and the railroad and all the farms and ranches, said Sandra Tumberlinson of the San Benito Historical Society.
All of these things needed to be told.
Ten years ago, the group began work on the book that chronicles the area s history from the 1700s to 1960, she said.
You decide on the story you want to tell and then you obtain the pictures to support the story, she said.
Old photographs show sweeping panoramas of the area s winding resacas, sprawling chaparral and rows of buildings that lined San Benito s dirt streets near the turn of the 20th century.
The book traces the city s roots to the Spanish land grants that brought settlers to the area.
A lot of these people are descendants of the original colonists who came from up the river, every generation working its way to newer land down the river, Tumberlinson said.
They helped clear the land, dig the irrigation ditches, harvest the crops and lay the railroad lines. That story had to be told.
The railroad brought pioneers such as Col. Sam Robertson, who developed the irrigation system that turned the Valley into one of the nation s agricultural centers.
From 1903 to 1917, I had a grand time in the Valley, working an average of 20 hours a day, seven days a week, Robertson is quoted as saying. There was not a dull minute, so to hell with money if you have interesting work.
The city boasted the Valley s first cannery, the Schmidt Canning Co., and one of the region s first ice plants, San Benito Ice and Cold Storage.
The book showcases landmarks that were part of San Benito s heyday, buildings such as the Missouri Pacific Railroad station, the Aztec Building, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and the city s historic churches.
On its first floor, the Aztec Building showcased the Sobre Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, whose tropical air featured an atrium and aquarium.
Residents shared old family photos that show historic haunts like the La Villita, the open-air dancehall that claimed, He who doesn t know La Villita, doesn t know San Benito.
Photographs show the group of city leaders who founded the San Benito-Port Isabel Navigation District, along with famed natives such as singer Freddy Fender, accordionist Narciso Martinez, Olympian Bobby Morrow, historian T.R. Fehrenbach and actor Ray Stewart.
The book, whose $21.99 cover price will raise money for the historical society, goes on sale from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the historic irrigation district building at the corner of Robertson and Sam Houston streets.
To order a copy of the book, call Tumberlinson at 956-399-8283 or Tootie Madden at 956-399-6032. "


Title: San Benito History
Author: Fernando Del Valle
Publisher: Valley Morning Star
Date: 2/15/2010


Covered wagons and Model T Fords ramble along dusty downtown streets.
Rows of tents stand as soldiers ride horseback to guard against border bandits. Workers dig the irrigation canals that will turn the Rio Grande Valley into an agricultural hub.
Old photographs help tell the story of the frontier town that grew along the railroad tracks in the new book "San Benito: Images of America," San Benito Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing.
"We have such a unique history in San Benito, with the resacas and the railroad and all the farms and ranches," said Sandra Tumberlinson of the San Benito Historical Society.
"All of these things needed to be told."
Ten years ago, the group began work on the book that chronicles the area's history from the 1700s to 1960, she said.
"You decide on the story you want to tell and then you obtain the pictures to support the story," she said.
Old photographs show sweeping panoramas of the area's winding resacas, sprawling chaparral and rows of buildings that lined San Benito's dirt streets near the turn of the 20th century.
The book traces the city's roots to the Spanish land grants that brought settlers to the area.
"A lot of these people are descendants of the original colonists who came from up the river, every generation working its way to newer land down the river," Tumberlinson said.
"They helped clear the land, dig the irrigation ditches, harvest the crops and lay the railroad lines. That story had to be told."
The railroad brought pioneers such as Col. Sam Robertson, who developed the irrigation system that turned the Valley into one of the nation's agricultural centers.
"From 1903 to 1917, I had a grand time in the Valley, working an average of 20 hours a day, seven days a week," Robertson is quoted as saying. "There was not a dull minute, so to hell with money if you have interesting work."
The city boasted the Valley's first cannery, the Schmidt Canning Co., and one of the region's first ice plants, San Benito Ice and Cold Storage.
The book showcases landmarks that were part of San Benito's heyday, buildings such as the Missouri Pacific Railroad station, the Aztec Building, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and the city's historic churches.
On its first floor, the Aztec Building showcased the Sobre Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, whose tropical air featured an atrium and aquarium.
Residents shared old family photos that show historic haunts like the La Villita, the open-air dancehall that claimed, "He who doesn't know La Villita, doesn't know San Benito."
Photographs show the group of city leaders who founded the San Benito-Port Isabel Navigation District, along with famed natives such as singer Freddy Fender, accordionist Narciso Martinez, Olympian Bobby Morrow, historian T.R. Fehrenbach and actor Ray Stewart.
The book, whose $21.99 cover price will raise money for the historical society, goes on sale from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the historic irrigation district building at the corner of Robertson and Sam Houston streets.
To order a copy of the book, call Tumberlinson at 956-399-8283 or Tootie Madden at 956-399-6032.

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