Tejano History Committee
The Tejano History Committee of the Hays County Historical Commission actively participates in the community encouraging oral histories, identifying and reflecting on the contributions of our ancestors and celebrating community in this unique area known as Central Texas (including pre-Texas 1835).
The Tejano name comes from the Caddo language of the Tejas Indigenous People. It translates into Friend. Reflecting our Tejano identity is a multi-faceted community of the Indigenous, Mexican, French, Black, Spanish, Polish, Creole, Mulato, German, Pacific Islander, Czech, Hungarian and redefining the future generations of Tejanos. We review, research, and evaluate family histories for historical marker applications. This process is extensive and your contribution and involvement in telling your family’s story is greatly appreciated.
Welcome from the Tejano History Committee!
The Alba Ranch
The Alba Ranch was home to one of the earliest established Hispanic families in the Dripping Springs area. The Alba family has deep roots in Texas history and Hispanic culture. Patriarch, Victoriano Alba, made his way by stages from Bexar to Travis County before setting down roots in Hays County. Victoriano and his family overcame adversity, heartache, and language barriers to become a successful and respected landowner of over a thousand acres in the Dripping Springs area. Victoriano’s pioneering spirit, work ethic, strong Catholic faith, and ingrained family loyalty was a strong example to his extended family as they carved out a niche for themselves in the wider world. Among the contributions Victoriano’s descendants gave to Dripping Springs’ residents is the kernel of what would become the present vibrant parish of St. Martin de Porres which has its beginnings on the Alba ranch where local Catholics met in a space furnished with pews and a podium for a visiting priest to conduct Mass. The Alba family has included university graduates, teachers, members of the military, business owners, and the first Hispanic member of the Dripping Springs City Council.
Victoriano Alba came to Texas from Mexico around the time of the Civil War and in 1867 married Loreta Tijerina, a member of an established Bexar County family. The couple had 13 children with seven surviving to adulthood. By the 1880s the Alba’s were in Travis County farming land east of Hornsby Bend. Sadly, Loreta died at age 45 in 1897 leaving Victoriano a widower with eight children with three children under the age of ten. In 1900 Victoriano took a bold step and purchased 160 acres for $425 near the small town of Dripping Springs paying $50 down. By 1906 Victoriano owned full title to the land which would be known for nearly a century as the Alba Ranch.
When Victoriano first arrived on his land, he lived in a tent, shaded by live oaks, with his sons until they built a small stone house. Eventually the Alba’s built six houses for him and his adult children and families. All of the houses were built of stone, except for one much larger wooden house, built years later as the main house. The driveway leading to the homes was lined with maguey plants and the compound of houses was clustered around a windmill-powered well. Nearby a magnificent live oak was entwined by a huge vine which provided grapes for jams and jellies and also produced an outdoor living space with shade known as the morar for family gatherings. And where glass marbles lost by generations of children playing were unearthed. Stonework found around a doorway of an existing stone house has classic Spanish-style ornamentation of fossils, arrowheads, flint, broken pottery, petrified wood and curiously a Lutheran rose and cross medallion—an interesting addition for a Catholic family. The Alba’s grew corn, sorghum and cotton and raised horses, mules, hogs, and cattle. The family had a garden as a source of beans, corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, squash, jalapeñoño, and other vegetables. A root cellar was used to preserve produce, and old bottles and jars, and blue-stamped pottery from Western Stoneware Company were discovered there. There were also fig, peach, and plum trees, guinea hens and peacocks on the land. The family and area residents have fond memories of an iconic cottonwood tree known locally by its Spanish name, the Alamo Tree. A rock wall surrounded the well with a contraption which dipped metal cups into the water. Hays County eventually modified it with a hand crank that pumped water into a five-gallon tub, with a tin cup hanging from a chain. The spot became a meeting place for a generation of teenagers just after WWII but around 2003 the ancient tree succumbed to a lightning strike.
After a long and productive life, Victoriano died in 1932 leaving a will signed in 1922 giving the Alba Ranch to his sons. Alba family descendants continued to farm the land, but younger descendants began to slowly move away. The last surviving descendant owning the Alba Ranch was Ruth Ramirez of San Antonio, the great-granddaughter of Victoriano and Loreta. Ruth and her husband Mayo Siller ran cattle on the ranch until Mayo passed away in 2003. It was in 2005 that she finally parted with the remainder, ending a more than a century of ownership by four generations of this family. Being a landowner elevated Victoriano’s status and was the key to a better future for his family. The Alba Ranch has been lovingly restored as part of a wedding venue with three of the five stone houses remaining. Visitors sense the Alba legacy reverberating from the stone walls. The Alba Ranch is worthy of its place in Texas History and will be recognized with an Undertold Historical Marker reserved for those lives nearly lost to time.