"Sauz" is a Spanish word for the native black willow tree (Salix nigra) found in alluvial soils and other wet areas in the eastern two-thirds of Texas.
El Sauz Ranch was established in 1792 when Jose Narciso Cavazos purchased the San Juan de Carricitos land grant from the Spanish government and stocked it with cattle. Encompassing more than 584,000 acres, this was the largest Spanish land grant in south Texas.
Captains Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy eventually bought much of the land in the grant, and in 1874 Edward B. Raymond was hired to manage the El Sauz Division of King Ranch.
A ranch house was built in 1884. The Brownsville to Alice stage-line began to use it as a stopover, and it developed into a small community with Raymond serving as telegraph operator and postmaster, a schoolhouse and a commissary.
The post office operated from 1893 to 1915. The El Sauz School District was established on March 6, 1925 and operated until the mid-1950s. The ranch house withstood numerous hurricanes but was ultimately demolished in 1980 after almost 100 years of service.
George Durham, the famous Texas Ranger, succeeded Raymond as foreman of El Sauz. Duhram rode with a special force of Texas Rangers led by Captain L. H. McNelly. These Rangers were dispatched to restore order to the Nueces Strip, the untamed country along the Texas/Mexico border. A thrilling account of their adventures is available in his book, Taming The Nueces Strip – The Story of McNelly's Rangers. After the force was disbanded, Durham served as Captain King's bodyguard for some time before marrying Caroline Chamberlain and moving to El Sauz. He was succeeded by two of his sons (George Durham, Jr. and Bland Durham) and a nephew (Beto Durham).
El Sauz is no longer part of King Ranch. It was partitioned in recent history and is now owned and operated independently of King Ranch, Inc.
The Nieto family has remained on the ranch since the early days of El Sauz and King's ownership. Third and fourth generation cowboys are now employed on the ranch, descendants of Captain King's early cattle crew known as Kinenos (The King's Men).
El Sauz is currently managed by Jerry Taylor. He has the second longest tenure of any manager superseded only by George Durham, Sr.
Visit the following links for more on the history of El Sauz Ranch:
Handbook of Texas
El Sauz, TX
Carricitos Land Grant