Los Fresnos News

A Brief History of Los Fresnos

Retired Los Fresnos High School teacher, former mayor, owner of Keillor Construction & Lumber Inc and local historian James A. Keillor drafted his A Brief History of Los Fresnos while attending UT-Brownsville while a student in Dr. William L. Adams’ class. The full document can be found at the LFCISD website in the 100th Anniversary section. We present this excerpt as part of our coverage of the Los Fresnos Independent School District’s 100th year anniversary celebration.

A photo from 1948 of the Los Frenos train station. The station linked Los Fresnos to the rest of the developing Valley in those days. Photo: For We Love Our Valley Home by Miriam Chatelle, 1948.

A photo from 1948 of the Los Frenos train station. The station linked Los Fresnos to the rest of the developing Valley in those days. Photo: For We Love Our Valley Home by Miriam Chatelle, 1948.

by James A. Keillor

Los Fresnos, a small community located in Cameron County approximately twelve miles north of Brownsville, was one of the last unsettled frontiers of the Rio Grande Valley. It was almost the last tract of land to be opened under the land company” system. The upper Valley had been quite well cleared by northern farmers by 1915 when the first settlers came to Los Fresnos.”The town grew rapidly from its beginning until the Great Depression and again during the decade of the 1940s, but has always maintained a Small town atmosphere.

It is not clear how Los Fresnos received its name as several versions may be found. According to one account, it was named after the Rancho Los Fresnos established by Mexican ranchers as early as 1771.

Another account tells us the proposed town was initially named Moseville by Lon C. Hill, Sr., naming it after his son, Lon C. (Mose) Hill, Jr. , but the name was subsequently changed to Los Fresnos.” However, Harry H. Whipple, an early settler who moved to Los Fresnos in the summer of 1915, states that it was already called Los Fresnos when he arrived.

A third account gives the credit directly to Hill, Sr. for the eventual name. “As he rode through the senderos” (winding lanes) viewing, and planning for the future development of, this beautiful country, he saw many ash trees scattered in the woods and on the banks of the resacas”.

Because of this he began calling the locality Los Fresnos – Spanish for “The Ash”. To help settle the issue one might have to look to the account offered by Juanita Zumwalt Steer, a member of the first family to settle in the new town, having arrived in April of 1915.

She states, One afternoon I remember my mother and Mose Hill talking about giving our place a name. They decided on the name of Los Fresnos. . . .”

Many individuals were responsible for the development of the town site. In 1909, Hill, Sr. purchased several thousand acres within the Espiritu Santo Grant including shares or portions of shares 12, 20, and 22. He subsequently organized the Rio Grande Canal Company” in 1912. This company then sold 9778.94 acres to the Los Fresnos Land and Irrigation Company for development. The principal parties of the Los Fresnos Land and Irrigation Company were J. B. Scott, Juan Fernandez, and S.C. Morton.”

Whipple remembers “the Scott Fernandez  land company owned the land where the original town site of twenty acres was created; however, they were only the owners of the land” and another company was responsible for the promotion of the town, building the school house, and arranging the train excursions.”



  1. Billy Aguilar

    January 14, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Although I live in Santa Maria CA. Now Los Fresnos will always be my home.

  2. Paula Moses Adams

    January 14, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I enjoyed it Very ……Much
    Thanks Herman K,

  3. Adan C Garcia II

    January 15, 2015 at 2:40 am

    I just want to say I’m proud to be from Los Fresnos. From what I remember my great grandparents arrived in the1920’s from Mexico. Although, I now reside in Austin, Texas I still have frequent visits to LF because my parents still reside there and I have tons of friends there. Cheers

  4. Randy Watson

    January 15, 2015 at 4:59 am

    My roots run deep in Falcon territory.

  5. Iris Jauregui

    January 15, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Very interesting. I LOVE Los Fresnos. Ben living here since 1997 ☺

    • Debbie Noble Baecht

      January 26, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Sitting with my mom and aunt who grew up in LF. They remember many of the above people that replied. Their maiden names are Sue and Donna Nixon.
      My grandmother also grew up in LF, going to school there. Her maiden name was Dorothy Sanders. I have wonderful childhood memories of my visits to LF.

  6. Letty Garcia Sanchez

    January 16, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Born and raised in Los Fresnos, I moved away in 1985 I’ve visited my family they still live there. Go Falcons!!

  7. Abe Solis Jr.

    January 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    My parents roots ended there and my roots and memories are and will always be there.

  8. Simon Aguirre

    January 17, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Great history lesson of the best small town in Texas.


    September 28, 2015 at 5:24 am


  10. Jerry Vanze

    November 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I have lived in many places throughout the US. This is one of the most corrupt towns in South TX.

  11. Rena Blaha Young

    January 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    What a nice article. I did not know a lot of history about Los Fresnos but have many fond memories of growning up there. I now live in Wichita, KS.

  12. Bruno Scopazzi

    January 16, 2016 at 7:50 am

    …I was the first American Field Service exchange student to Los Fresnos High School Senior Class of 1964, coming from Venice – Italy…after that I’ve been traveling an living in many foreign countries…but deep in my heart, for several reasons, I definitely consider Los Fresnos my “deputy” home…I’m still corresponding with the Neff’s who treated me as a son from the first minute…and also with some of the beloved schoolmates of my fantastic “Happy Days” adventure…love y’all Falcons…

  13. Elena Sanchez

    March 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I love history to begin with, I have in the past tried to research the history of Los Fresnos, Texas Falcon territory but did not find much information. This has always been my home and I have great memories of days gone by. The people are great! the schools were and still are the best in RGV. It is a great place to live.

  14. Jose Raul Diaz

    July 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    “This is home!”
    I remember checking out Mrs. Chatelle’s book when I was in elementary school, while Mrs. Chatelle was our librarian. Does anyone remember her? That would have been in the late 60’s or very early 70’s?
    I remember the book talking about a bad train wreck near Olmito.

    My buddy and I would go rabbit hunting in the sugar cane fields all the time.

    Bueno, God Bless Everyone! Go Falcon’s ! ! !
    Class of 78.
    US Army 1978 – 1982
    came back home !!!

    • Vickie Mann Bolling

      September 30, 2019 at 12:42 am

      I’m so glad you mentioned Mrs. Chantelle. I remember reading it and being entranced by her stories of Pancho Villa. One that especially stayed with me was about a Gulf storm in the early 1900’s today known as a hurricane. Mrs Chatelke could write. She was also a nice woman. Mr kielor, you are quite a good writer yourself. I knew Bonnie Kielor and it was probably your great grandfather or uncle who built our house in the late 60’s in Brownsville. When I can’t sleep t imagine walking the halls of Lis Fresnos Junior High. I loved that building. I loved growing up in Los Fresnos.

  15. Marco A. Huerta

    February 7, 2018 at 1:38 am

    I was born and raised in this small community by my mother Eustacia (Tacha)Huerta. So many fond memories of this small town which Im proud to call HOME. My mother worked at Frankies Café which was located at the corner of Hwy 100 and Paderes Ln. My mother’s home was one of the first home built on West 2nd Street by Keillor Construction and to this date is still solid. Los Fresnos has grown a bit but in my opinion still has that small town feeling where everyone knows everyone. You cant go into Wal-Mart without running into someone you know. I Love it.

  16. Joe Cruz

    September 5, 2018 at 2:33 am

    I was born in 1952 in a very small community of laurels just north of Los Fresnos. Though I now live in San Antonio I will for ever call Los Fresnos my home. It’s were I grew up and went to school. Our elementary, Jr High and High Shool were on the same campus. We all shared the same cafeteria, gym, football field and the same shool buses. I rode bus #6 and Mr Librado Gonzalez was our bus driver for the 12 yrs I was in school. I still have my mother 3 brothers Herman, Saul, Rick and my sister Mary who still live there. Growing up we knew everyone by name. We only had one police. Mr Ed Moody and later Mr Cantu. Growing up in Los Fresnos was always an adventure we could hunt pretty anywhere and fish all the camels and resacas. Every summer was so busy working the fields, there was plenty of vegetables to pick and cotton. We were poor but we didn’t know it because everybody had the same lifes. Those truly were the good old days.
    Joe Cruz

    • john cruz

      April 8, 2020 at 9:12 am

      Hey Joe , I’m a Cruz also , Was your dad’s name Ricardo. I went to school with Hermin , Susana Cruz and sons and daughters of Martin Cruz. All the Cruzs in Laureles are related to me.

  17. Gene Ognibene

    January 29, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Just because you left Los Fresnos, doesn’t mean your heart ever did.

    • Gene Ognibene

      January 29, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      And thank you for the great article Mr Keillor.

  18. Brigette A Graybill

    May 1, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    I love reading the history of our beloved town. I was born and raised in Los Fresnos and I wouldn’t trade it for any other town or city in the world. Even though it’s grown so much over the years, it still has that close-knit, hometown flavor that you just dont find anywhere.Nothing beats that Falcon spirit! Id like to thank Mr. Keillor for educating us on our rich and interesting history.Great work!

  19. Gus Gonzalez

    February 4, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Great memories of our Falcon’s Nest restaurant, high school sports and friends. Thanks, Jimmy (a 1967 LFHS graduating classmate) for illustrating the rich heritage of the city’s birth and growth. Go Falcons!

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