The history of Alice can be traced back to the 1800s when the first settlers arrived. However, as time passes history becomes a thing of the past. But on Saturday, Oct. 6, a local family gathered for the unveiling of a historical marker east of Alice on Highway 44 in honor of their ancestor Marcelino Lopez, who once owned half of the land Alice sits on today.
History had always intrigued Debra Reyes. Over the years, Reyes and her family were told a story about how Lopez had a settlement that included land in Alice. Her fascination with the story was met with some disappointment when, as an adult, she visited the local library and found little information on Lopez and his land known as Los Presenos.
Reyes discovered Lopez's partition deed and a genealogical account in her grandmother's possessions after her death.
“Finding these possessions was like finding a lost treasure, but this treasure was only valuable to me,” Reyes said.
As she left Alice after visiting the library, she felt it was her mission to have a historical marker for her “long lost ancestor.”
After years of story-telling and working with the Texas Historical Commission, the story of Lopez was permanently set in with a historical marker. The historical marker proved how Lopez's settlement was instrumental to the founding of Alice.
According to Antonio “Tony” Bill with the Jim Wells County Historical Commission, Lopez was from Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He applied for a land grant in 1831. The Mexican State of Tamaulipas awarded Lopez the grant, which included land where Alice is currently located.
Lopez improved the land and began a settlement known as Los Presenos that was located on the bank of San Fernando Creek, approximately two miles east of present-day Alice.
The settlement thrived after Corpus Christi was founded and a trade route constructed. The trade route passed through the settlement on the way to San Diego, Laredo and Eagle Pass.
Lopez and his wife, Josefa, died in 1854. They had eight children. Los Presenos property remained with the Lopez descendants until it was sold to N.G. Collins in 1877. The construction of the railroad caused the growth of Collins, a town located just a mile south of Los Presenos, and the demise of Los Presenos.
Reyes mission ended with the dedication of Lopez's historical marker standing tall for anyone to see.