Parts of present Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, and Kenedy counties were once included in two Spanish land grants, San Juan de Carricitos and San Salvador del Tule. The original grantee of the Carricitos grant was Jose Narciso Cavazos. After his death, ownership of the land passed to his heirs.
The Tule lands were granted to Juan Jose Balli in 1798. Balli obtained a business loan from Antonio Cardenas of Reynosa, Mexico. Following Balli's death and subsequent litigation over the loan, the lands reverted to Cardenas heirs in 1828.
The Cardenas family established La Noria Cardenena Ranch in 1829, so named because of the fresh water wells (norias) found in the region. Gradually, the Cardenas and Cavazos families were joined by a number of marriages, which also combined property interests. Although the families endured many hardships, including years of indian and bandit attacks, they continued to run a strong ranching operation. Still in existence on part of the ranch is a small cemetery, begun in 1835 and named Nino Jesus de Praga in 1863. Also surviving are the mid-19th century main ranch house and a church built next to the cemetery in 1944.