Bandit Raid On The Norias Division Of The King Ranch - 1915 

The old Norias Headquarters is on the Missouri Pacific Railroad and U.S. Highway 77 thirty-two miles south of Sarita in southwestern Kenedy County.  Noria is a Spanish word for "well."  The St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway was completed into the area in 1904.  Norias was owned and operated by the King Ranch as a shipping point and division headquarters.  In 1948 the settlement had a railroad station, a school, and an airway beacon.  In 1982 it had several farm units, a cemetery, and a few dwellings.  It was a dispersed community in the early 1990s.

NORIAS RANCH RAID:  The Norias Ranch Raid occurred during the "bandit wars" along the Texas-Mexico border.  At dusk on August 8, 1915, a band of Mexicans rode into the southern end of the sprawling King Ranch and attacked the Norias division headquarters, located on the railroad about seventy miles north of Brownsville.  Earlier that afternoon, in response to a call from Caesar Kleberg at Kingsville concerning Mexican horsemen in the Sauz division, Texas adjutant general Henry Hutchings, Texas Ranger captains Henry Ransom, J. M. Fox, and George J. Head, as well as ten rangers, and a corporal and seven cavalrymen stationed at Harlingen, arrived at Norias on a special train from Brownsville.  They left the soldiers, then hurried by horseback to the Sauz pasture.  The regular train reached Norias near sundown with three customs inspectors-D. P. Gay, Joe Taylor, and Marcus Hinds-and Cameron County deputy sheriff Gordon Hill.  There were now sixteen men at the headquarters.  At dusk Hinds saw horsemen approaching and thought they were Texas Rangers returning from patrol.  When they were about 250 yards away, the horsemen, carrying a red flag, began firing at the ranch house.  The besieged took cover behind the railroad embankment near the section house and returned fire.  Albert, the cook, telephoned Kingsville for help.  U.S. Army troops stationed in Kingsville were loaded on another train and sent to Norias.  

The number of raiders was variously reported as anywhere from fifty to seventy men.  Ranch hands Pedro Longorio, Luis Solis, and Macario Longorio said later that around two A.M. at the King Ranch Cerritos headquarters, fifty-two outlaws forced them to water and feed their horses.  They reported that Antonio Roche and Dario Morada led the group.  Another report said that Luis de la Rosa commanded a force of about fifteen men and had joined with a band of twenty-five.  The raiders forced Manuel Rincones, a King Ranch employee, to guide them.  At nightfall, after two hours of fighting, the raiders suddenly stopped firing and vanished into the darkness.  

They had broken into the section house and killed Manuela Flores.  George Forbes, Frank Martin, and two soldiers were wounded.  Some five or more raiders were killed and perhaps a dozen wounded.  A wounded bandit said later that they expected to find only three or four cowboys at the headquarters.  They planned to rob the ranch store, derail and loot the night train, and burn the ranch house.  The Norias raid provoked outrage in the lower Rio Grande Valley.  Mexican banditry escalated, and the United States Army promptly increased its presence in the area to curb the violence.

The below photographs show the division headquarters, some of the dead bandits, U.S. Army troops, and Texas Rangers after the battle.  I am going to try and contact the King Ranch historian to find out more information as time permits.

Norias Division Headquarters after the bandit raid.

The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


Army troops pose for picture on front porch

The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


Texas Rangers prepare to cover the bodies of 4 dead bandits

The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


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