By STEVE HATHCOCK
Special to the PARADE
Somewhere in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, perhaps on the north side or maybe on the south side of the river, lies a hoard of Mexican gold coins.
Our story begins over 130 years ago in the sleepy village of Santa Rosa.
Two miles West of Santa Rosa is a 40-acre farm, the former ranch house, and headquarters of the famous Cantu ranch. The storm of 1933 did some damage to the old house.
Old timers who had seen the structure in better days described how a 100 years prior many of the wooden parts of the old building had been painstakingly shipped here from Spain and ferried up the river on flat boats. Its scratched and scarred doorway had witnessed generations of ranch life. In the yard stood three ancient elm trees, keepers of secrets from many years past.
The owner of the ranch had a home in San Angelo, and the ranch itself was managed by a trusted employee, the foreman. The foreman’s right hand was old Ike Espinoza, an ancient Mexican who died in the 1930s, but told, on his deathbed, the following story.
“Many years before, maybe sometime in the last century,” the old man recounted, “the owner of the ranch, who had now grown wealthy from selling his vast herds of cattle, accepted an offer to sell a portion of his acreage to a buyer at Brownsville for $38,000. A down payment of $24,000 was paid to him with a promissory note of $14,000, due in a few weeks.
Directing his foreman to collect the remaining $14,000 upon the due date, the rancher returned to his home in San Angelo.
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