Alex De La Garza


March 11, 1921 - 2004
Role: Tophand, Pasture Rider
Nicknames: Alex

Alejandro “Alex” De La Garza was the great, great, grandson of Carlos De La Garza, one of the pioneering Mexican landholders in South Texas. Alex’s father worked on all the O’Connor ranches. His grandparents farmed their own land, but Alex only wanted to be a cowhand. He grew up in the San Antonio river bottom on De La Garza land and started working cattle when he was fourteen years old. Alex was drafted and spent WWII in North Africa with General Patton and landed at Anzio in Italy. He was awarded six bronze stars. When he returned, he got right back on his horse and started cowboyin’ on the O'Connor Ranches. He was considered a tophand all his life and his knowledge of nature and cattle is not to be surpassed. Alex and Tom O'Connor, Jr., were dear friends, as the two families have been neighbors and friends since pre-Revolutionary times. This friendship was quite advantageous to both the O’Connors and the De La Garzas as Carlos de la Garza was instrumental in saving Nicholas Fagan from the Goliad Massacre in 1836. It is thought Carlos may have also helped Thomas O’Connor [I] in some way. In return for these favors, the Fagans and O’Connors were instrumental in saving De La Garza from having his land confiscated when Mexico lost the Texas Revolution.

Introduction to Alex de la Garza

Louise S. O'Connor
00:04:13
Voice of Alex de la Garza
00:02:17
Alex de la Garza - Well, I started workin' cattle when I was fourteen years old, and I'm sixty-two now. Let's see, how many years I been on a horseback? I never did think about something else, you know. Just go ahead and keep going like I was doing because on those days when we used to work over here with Mrs. Agnes, we was given about twenty-five cents a day, I believe. I really want to be a cowboy, you know, cause we raising horses. We used to work mules in the field and all that, you know. And we worked from sun up to sundown for that price. But we still like being on a horse, you know. Cause….

Julian Tijerina - You'd have done it for nothing.

Alex de la Garza - I'd have done this for nothing. That's right. Well in those days everything was just…twenty-five cents was lots of money, yeah. And I just keep…. I work for Mr. Sam Williams, too. Every time we work cattle we go over there to help him. We help him with fixin' windmills, fences and everything. I mean there was all kind of work on the ranch, you know. So, about the time I start working at the River Ranch, I knew a little something about everything.

Victor Rodriguez - Pastero. That's what you call it. Pasture rider.

Julian Tijerina – Pasteros, pasture rider.

Alex de la Garza - Pasture Rider

Victor Rodriguez - That's right

Julian Tijerina - That's what it's known as.

Alex de la Garza - You got to look at 'em cattles. Have to look at fences, look at windmills. Be sure they got plenty of water. Things like that, you know. And you have to do it pretty steady, cause… If those cattle run out of water, well they might die.

Julian Tijerina - They might? They will die!

Alex de la Garza - That's right.

Victor Rodriguez - The windmill it can be turning, but it don't pull no water.

Alex de la Garza - It won't pump no water.

Victor Rodriguez - He's got to watch all that. And pretty close, too.

Alex de la Garza - And I still like it. I love it. Yeah. It might be pumping today, maybe it won't pump tomorrow.

Documents

“I started workin’ cattle when I was fourteen. I been on horseback that many years. I love the work — don ’t care how hot, how cold. I love it.”

Cryin' For Daylight: Ranching Culture in the Texas Coastal Bend