In 1746, Jose de Escandon was selected by Spanish officials to be chief colonizer for the lower Rio Grande Valley, then a part of Mexico's northern frontier. A native of Spain, Escandon (b. 1700) had proven himself a capable administrator and military leader as part of the Spanish forces in Mexico.
Escandon took over 700 people, including missionaries, soldiers, and Indians, on his initial exploration of the area. His findings from this venture allowed him to complete his colonization plans. By 1748, thirteen settlements had begun in the area, which came to be called Nuevo Santander after Escandon's home province. A total of nineteen settlements, including Laredo, San Ygnacio, Falcon, and Lopeno, owe their foundings to Escandon. Escandon issued royal land grants in tracts known as "porciones," and in return the settlers were to fulfill certain requirements. The final inspection of the land grants, known as the General Visitation of 1767, marked the beginning of private and individual land ownership in this part of the state, as valid applicants were given possession of their "porciones. " The colonization efforts also resulted in the farming and ranching settlements from which grew the immense cattle industry of South Texas. (1986)