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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Pioneer on Horseback

Juan Maria Ponce De Leon, (a direct descendant of Ponce De Leon) is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of El Paso, largely because he made the first attempt at occupation of the north bank of the river.

In the early 19th century, downtown El Paso was called “Chivos Bravos,” or “Place of the Wild Goats.” In September 1827 Juan Maria Ponce De Leon petitioned the local officials in El Paso del Norte for a land grant at what is now the corner of Paisano and El Paso streets. He built a hacienda in the area, close to where the Plaza Theatre and the old White House building are today. The acequia, or irrigation ditch that he built from the Rio Grande through the Downtown area opened the door to further growth, with orchards, vineyards, and even a granary in what is now downtown El Paso.

In the summer of 1849 he sold the property to Benjamin Franklin Coons, who called it “Coon's Rancho.” Coons rented land to the army, but after the military moved away in September 1851,Coons was unable to keep up his payments. So Ponce De León repossessed it. He died the following year, and his wife and daughter sold the rancho to freighter William T. Smith.

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Draw a picture of what downtown El Paso looked like when Ponce De Leon built his Hacienda there.

Related Links:

From the El Paso Times “El Paso at the Millennium” series
http://www.borderlandnews.com/millennium/fam_ponce.html

From the Handbook of Texas Online
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/PP/fpo63.html

Read More, Learn More:

Bowden, J. J. 1969. The Ponce de León Land Grant (Southwestern Studies Monograph No. 24) El Paso: Texas Western Press.