This superb work of history tells the story of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the people who struggled to make this daunting land their home. Spanish conquistadors and Mexican revolutionaries, cowboys and ranchers, Texas Rangers and Civil War generals, entrepreneurs and empire builders are all a part of this centuries-long saga, thoroughly researched and skillfully presented here. In this moving account of the history of the families of the Santa Anita land grant, almost two hundred years of the history of the lower Rio Grande Valley (1748-1940) are revealed. An important addition to any collection of Texas history, ""I Would Rather Sleep in Texas"" is one of the most complete studies of the lower Rio Grande, abundantly illustrated with maps and photographs, many never before published. In 1790 the Santa Anita, a Spanish land grant, was awarded to merchant Jose Manuel Gomez. After the land passed to Gomez's widow, part of the grant was acquired by Mar'a Salome Ball, the daughter of a powerful Spanish clan. Salome married John Young, and her family connections combined with his business acumen helped to further assemble the Santa Anita under one owner. In 1859, after Young's death, Salome struggled to hold onto her properties amid bandit raids and the siege of violence waged in the region by borderland caudillo Juan Cortina. Soon after the beginning of the Civil War, she married John McAllen. They participated in the rapid wartime cotton trade and developed influential business connections. Rare firsthand accounts by Salome Ball Young de McAllen, John McAllen, and their son, James Ball McAllen, add to a deeper understanding of the blending of the region's frontier cultures, rowdy politics, and periodic violence.
MARY MARGARET McALLEN AMBERSON, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and student of history and anthropology, worked with her father, JAMES A. McALLEN, who compiled extensive notes, research, and data on South Texas and Valley history. His mother, MARGARET H. McALLEN, a former member of the TSHA and the Texas Historical Commission, began the book project in 1978.