a Pecan Shell
Easily a contender
for oldest town in Texas, Ysleta was
founded after the Pueblo Revolt against the Spaniards in 1680. It
was annexed by the city of El Paso
in 1955. (The opposition to the annexation was so great that the decision
ended up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
It had once been known as Ysleta del Sur or “Island of the
South.” Due to a change in the course of the Rio Grande (1829-1831),
the deepest channel in the river left Ysleta on the northern side
of the International Boundary. It was deemed to be American territory
As an early agricultural community, its population was originally
comprised mainly of Tigua Indians that had been relocated from their
New Mexican homeland (1680-1682). From a population of 560 in 1760,
Ysleta reached just over 700 in 1841. By 1880, it had swollen to 1,500
residents and in 1930 it reached a new record of 2,000.
The town got its first mayor in 1859 but the city government dissolved.
A governing body was attempted again in the early 1870s, but this
too failed. Finally in 1880 Incorporation was finalized and in 1889
Yselta became a full-fledged city. But this government wasn’t to last
either. In 1895, Ysleta again dissolved its governing council due
to legal fights over water and land rights.
In 1873 an election made Ysleta the El
Paso county seat, a position formerly held by San
Elizario. With the arrival of the railroad in 1881, the population
shifted toward the tracks. Another county seat election was held in
1883. Despite local opposition, Ysleta lost its status to the city
of El Paso.
In 1929, a bridge was constructed linking Zaragoza, Chihuahua, Mexico
The Tigua Indians, who had served the U.S. Army as scouts and interpreters
during the Indian wars were belatedly recognized as a tribe by the
State of Texas in 1967. They continue to reside in the oldest portion
oldest town in Texas?
"For longer than most of us can remember, Texans have been squabbling
over which community
is the state’s oldest.
The principal players in this ongoing feud are a couple of East
Texas cities, Nacogdoches
and San Augustine,
and a West Texas village,
Ysleta, now part of the city of El
Paso, has been continuously occupied since 1682 when the Tigua
Indians came here from their pueblo at Isleta, New Mexico. The Handbook
of Texas says with a touch of reservation that Ysleta “is perhaps
the oldest town in Texas......” more
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact