Historic 1800s Rancho Las Animas up for sale
FREER - The historic Rancho Las Animas located 10 miles southwest of Freer is up for sale. The ranch occupies one of the oldest sillar structures in Duval County and accompanies a 16 plot family cemetery with an Indian and bandit unmarked burial close by.
The land that originally consisted of 7.400 acres was pioneered by Don Jorge Alanis in the 1800's.
As the story goes, in 1873 there was a band of hide peelers, a person who stole cattle and removed their hides for financial gain, led by Alberto Garza, terrorizing the local rancheros both Tejanos and Anglos in the area. In response to the hide peelers, a posse was formed in San Diego due to the massive raids of bandits and indigenous tribes. The posse used the Casa de Sillar at Rancho Las Animas as a fortified fortress to fight off the enemy, according to Historian Homero Vera.
The rectangular sillar (caliche) block house was approximately 20 x 40 with two-foot walls and 20 feet high with a gun port slot on all sides. On the roof, the gun port slots have a 90-degree groove to help the shooter hit a moving target.
Alice resident Raul Ramirez has extended family from the Las Animas Ranch and remembers visiting as a young child.
"I must have been four or five and I was helping my tio with some fencing work. I was really just the goffer," Ramirez said jokingly. "During that time you could actually see the stagecoach wheels ingrained in the rock and land."
In the late 1800s, the land was used as a stagecoach trail for moving cattle. Since that time the landowners have switched hands heirs have died and most of the original land deed has been sold.
The current plot is around 20 acres and the current owners restored the old structure, cleaned up the land and preserved the historic site. The headquarters are liveable and amenities have been added although the main goal was to preserve and not modernize, so there is no air conditioning.
"This property is co-owned with another couple, " said part-owner Robert Lee. "We have put a substantial amount of money to preserve the site and it still needs some work, but has a lot of potential. We have had parties here, cowboy breakfast events. It has been a great time, but it's time to sell."
Many local area residents including Ramirez have extended family members buried at the Rancho Las Animas Cemetery, by Texas law the land is available for families to continue to visit the grave sites despite who owns it.
The current ranch owners are looking to find the right buyers to purchase the land with the hopes to preserve and value the history and integrity of the land.
"I spend a lot of my time there keeping the grass mowed and place kept," Lee added. "I love it there, but it's time to let it go."