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Books About Zavala County Texas People and Places
What's Your Favorite Book about a Zavala County Texas Person, Place or Event? Here are some of our favorites about Crystal City, Amaya, Batesville, Chula Vista, La Pryor and Loma Grande.

 

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The Cotton Is HighThe Cotton Is High

by Jay Thomas Willis

I lived three miles off a long, winding, curvaceous, black-topped, hill-ridden road that led to my high school in Batesville, Texas. A red-dirt road led right to my front door from this black-topped road. My mother called out, “Hurry, you'll miss the bus" ... Read more Look inside

Señor Sack: The Life of Gabe Rivera

Gabriel “Gabe” Rivera was one of the greatest players in the history of Texas Tech football.... "Sports historian Jorge Iber’s newest book chronicles this Mexican American athlete’s rise to prominence and later life. Beginning with the Rivera family in Crystal City, Texas, a hotbed of Chicano activism in the late 1960s, Señor Sack seeks to understand how athletic success impacted the Rivera family’s most famous son on his route to stardom. Football provided this family with opportunities that were not often available to other Mexican Americans during the 1940s and 1950s ... Read more Look inside

Rows of Memory: Journeys of a Migrant Sugar-Beet Worker

by Saul Sanchez

Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled―crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. Although hoeing sugar beets with a short hoe was their specialty, they also picked oranges in California, apples in Washington, cucumbers in Michigan, onions and potatoes in Wisconsin, and tomatoes in Iowa. Winters they returned home to Crystal City in the Winter Garden region in South Texas... Read more Look inside

A Law for the Lion: A Tale of Crime and Injustice in the Borderlands

On Tuesday, August 7, 1917 in the small town of Crystal City, Texas, in Zavala County, some seventy-five miles northwest of Laredo, was awakened to the sounds of a fusillade, A gunfight was in progress that morning on the streets of Crystal City. Crystal City was not an old frontier town of the West, where such incidents were the part of folklore. It was not even an old border town like Laredo, where young cowboys "dressed in white linen" walked the streets... Read more Look inside

Whiskey River Ranger: The Old West Life of Baz Outlaw

"For the Texas Rangers it was not necessarily a high-profile case publicity wise, even though the governor had authorized the posting of a $250 reward for the arrest and conviction of Jim King's killers. However, institutionally  they were bound and determined---driven---to offer any and all possible assistance to Zavala County Sheriff C.C. Akers at the then county seat, Batesville. As late as April---the same month Sergeant Fusselman was murdered------Corporal Baz Outlaw had been in Zavala County ..." Read more Look inside

Outlaw Tales of Texas: True Stories Of The Lone Star State's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, And Cutthroats

"Robert L. Bates, sixteen at the time of the shoot-out, married in 1866 and moved to Batesville, Texas, about 1875, where he ranched on land given him by his father. The father of the Bates brothers, Elijah A. Bates, who was a member of the grand jury which indicted them, was a prominent..." Read more Look inside

Laredo Justice

"The two brothers, Wes and Carl Sanger, had murdered the deputy on the orders of their father, Harry Sanger. After the shooting of Colby the boys rode to their father's ranch to report that the deputy was dead and was sent to visit their uncle Ty Sanger in Crystal City, Texas, to establish an alibi. Sheriff Colton, however, found an eyewitness to the shooting who pointed him in the direction of the Sanger brothers. The sheriff and a small posse rode to the Sanger ranch and found Mrs. Sanger badly beaten..." Read more Look inside

Chance-Luck-Attitude: How Attitude Can Make Your Life

"Playa built a house on twelve hundred acres right out of Batesville, Texas, for hunting. This was a three-bedroom, two-bath house of about fifteen hundred square feet, built by Richard, our superintendents, and me on weekends. Each Friday, we would load up a couple of pickup trucks and a trailer with materials and head to the ranch for work on the house..." Read more Look inside

The Border Healer: My Life As A Curandero

by Alberto Salinas Jr

"The day Alberto got married most everyone in town showed up at the wedding and at the dance hall. On his wedding day Alberto was offered a job as foremen at a pickle company packing shed located in Batesville, Texas He took the job. Alberto fathered a child at 17. His firstborn, Valerie Ann was born on February 5th, 1969. He turned 18 on March 6th, 1969 and registered with the draft to serve in the U.S. armed forces..." Read more Look inside

The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods

Texas has it all, from bustling big cities to sleepy small towns, and law enforcement alone can’t solve every crime. That’s where private eyes come in. They take the cases law enforcement can’t—or won’t. Private eyes may walk the mean streets of Dallas and Houston, but they also stroll through small West Texas towns where the secrets are sometimes more dangerous. "Josh Pachter is the author of more than one hundred short stories published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and dozens of other anthologies and periodicals. He spent the summer of 1970 on a cattle ranch in Batesville, Texas, population 139 (not counting the cows)..." Read more look inside

One Ranger Returns

After I became a Texas Ranger, though, there were still times when I occasionally came upon a scene so appalling that I had to top and collect myself. On Monday morning, April 23, 1979, I received a telephone call from Chief Chisum of the Uvalde Police Department, requesting me to meet two of his officers on Farm Road 117 at a location two miles north of Batesville, which was south of town and well across the line into Zavala County. They had located a blue Dodge pickup truck, whose registration linked it to Lupita Gonzalez, a twenty-four-year-old teacher's aide in Uvalde who had been reported missing by her husband... Read more Look inside

Winchester Warriors: Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874–1901

Directly south of the Company D headquarters in Uvalde County reposed Zavala County, officially surveyed, yet to be organized—no sheriff, no jail, and but few folks. Though not actually touching the Rio Grande, Zavala County was generically dumped into the grouping of border counties. Zavala County was brush country---The Brasada. Here, horseback men laboring for ranchers were not known as cowboys; they were "brush poppers" Here too, fellows operated from both sides of the border bent on stealing cattle; to honest ranchers they were not politely called "rustlers" they were ... Read more Look inside

Spanish Expeditions into Texas, 1689–1768

Based on official Spanish expedition diaries, a fascinating account of the daily routes taken and the Indigenous tribes, terrain, and wildlife encountered. "Espinosa saw some Indians whom he called Bozales on April 29, 1716 near Comanche Creek in Zavala County. However, this may not have been the tribal name..." Read more Look inside

The Making of a Chicano Militant: Lessons from Cristal

Texas, for years, was a one-party state controlled by white democrats. In 1962, a young eighteen-year-old heard the first rumblings of Chicano community organization in the barrios of Cristal City. The rumor in the town was that five Mexican Americans were going to run for all five seats on the city council. But first, poor citizens had to find a way to pay the $1.75 poll tax. Money had to be raised—through bake sales of tamales, cake walks, and dances. So began the political activism of José Angel Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez's autobiography, The Making of a Chicano Militant, is the first insider's view of the important political and social events within the Mexican American communities in South Texas during the 1960s and 1970s... Read more Look inside

Live! From La Pryor The Poetry Of Juan Manuel Pérez A Zavala County Native Son

From 2006 to 2007,while still residing in La Pryor, Texas, the now 2019-2020 Corpus Christi Poet Laureate, Juan Manuel Perez, put together a series of short-run, saddle-stitch poetry chapbooks that many of his current readers have never seen. Some were created from old ideas even at that time and some were very fresh in the early 2000's. Nearly two decades later, this book is a compilation of all six chapbooks in their original color on the subjects of comic books, Indigenous life, horror, and even failed love. Come and take a look at the poet in an earlier stage of writing... Read more Look inside

School: The Story of American Public Education

"We were told by some of our teachers, 'You Mexicans are never going ot amount to anything,'" remembers Severita Lara, who attended public school in Crystal City, Texas, and later became mayor. "We wanted to go to college and we wanted to take different classes and the counselors would tell us, 'No, you are not going to go to college.' " ...  Read more

Seven Guns to the Border

When Brent takes a spill from his horse and hits his head against a large stone he suffers temporary amnesia. Brent is taken in by a homesteader and his wife, Ted and Virginia George, who nurse him back to health. Unable to remember who he is, where he is going, and very little about his past, Brent soon encounters new problems. One of the posse members on the trail of the Colton gang recognizes him from his days as a lawman in Crystal City, Texas ... Read more Look inside

The Eagle Has Eyes: The FBI Surveillance of César Estrada Chávez of the United Farm Workers Union of America, 1965–1975

by Jose Angel Gutierrez

"Manuel Salas from Crystal City, Texas, my hometown, was a labor contractor or troquero. The troquero is not held in high regard by workers because of corruption. Many troqueros would charge worker for the transportation and for water to drink. They would keep the Social Security deduction and not report it, and pick and choose who to give preference to for work. I grew up with the Salas children, Manuel Jr., Jesus, and Chacho, when they still lived or returned to live in Crystal City..." Read more Look inside

Texas Pistoleers: The True Story of Ben Thompson and King Fisher

The author, G .R. Williamson, spent his early years living in Crystal City, Texas, which is located twenty miles west of King Fisher's ranch in Dimmitt County. As a Boy Scout, he hunted for arrowheads on the land that once belonged to King Fisher, and he fished in the alligator waters of Espantosa Lake...Read more Look inside

Rodriguez . . . Texas Ranger!: The True Story of the First Mexican American Texas Ranger

He is in Crystal City, Texas... it is 1969... Gringo-Chicano relations are 'just-a-bit-strained' in general... and in Zavala County in particular. And as if these minor obstacles were insufficient disincentives... the gentleman who Art... Read more Look inside

Border Towns and Border Crossings: A History of the U.S.-Mexico Divide

"Unfortunately for La Raza Unida Party, the high-water mark of electoral victories turned out to be the local elections in the Crystal City, Texas, area that had garnered so much enthusiasm and held out such promise..." Read more Look inside

The American Kaleidoscope: Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture

A leading authority's panoramic history compares the experiences of immigrant-ethnic groups, African-Americans, and Native Americans to each other and in relation to the national political culture. "The Political Association of Spanish - Speaking People ( PASO ), which grew out of the Viva Kennedy clubs, elected its slate to take control of the city council in Crystal City, Texas, in 1963, despite the opposition of the ..." Read more Look inside

Uprooting Community: Japanese Mexicans, World War II, and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

"The INS Crystal City camp opened in December 1942 in the county of Zavala, Texas, ninety-five miles from Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. Persons of Japanese and German origin from Lat America compose the majority of internees, although Latin American Italians and American Japanese from Hawaii and Alaska were also integrated in to the camp, which was assigned to detain families originally residing outside the continental United States..." Read more Look inside

Schools behind Barbed Wire: The Untold Story of Wartime Internment and the Children of Arrested Enemy Aliens

Without warning their American identity was suspect and on the basis of their parents' nationality, they too were treated as enemies of the state and shipped off to remote internment camps such as the one located in Crystal City, TX. Schools behind Barbed Wire is the story of the boys and girls who grew up in the Crystal City internment camp and spent the war years attending one of its three internment camp schools. These children attended regular classes in math and English, joined clubs, and tried to go about 'normal' life in the most extraordinary of circumstances ... Read more Look Inside

Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps

"The very personal story of Seiichi Higashide (1909–97), whose life in three countries was shaped by a bizarre and little-known episode in the history of World War II. Born in Hokkaido, Higashide emigrated to Peru in 1931. By the late 1930s he was a shopkeeper and community leader in the provincial town of Ica, but following the outbreak of World War II, he―along with other Latin American Japanese―was seized by police and forcibly deported to the United States. He was interned behind barbed wire at the Immigration and Naturalization Service facility in Crystal City, Texas, for more than two years..." Read more Look inside

Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986

"In the 1930s, Crystal City families cut spinach from November through April, worked onions from April through May, and then topped beets or picked cotton from May through November, when the whole cycle would start over ..." Read more Look inside

The Tejano Diaspora: Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin

Crystal City, well known as a flash point of 1960s-era Mexican Americanism, was a classic migrant sending community, with over 80 percent of the population migrating each year in pursuit of farm work. Wisconsin, which had a long tradition of progressive labor politics, provided a testing ground for activism and ideas for young movement leaders. By providing a view of the Chicano movement beyond the Southwest, Rodriguez reveals an emergent ethnic identity, discovers an overlooked youth movement, and interrogates the meanings of American citizenship . . . Read more Look Inside

The Crystal City Story: One Family’s Experience with the World War II Japanese Internment Camps

Written by Tomoko Izumi, at age 79, The Crystal City Story describes her life as a young child in a Japanese Internment camp during World War II. Her story emerges from the perspective of an 8-year old who lived in the camps until age 12. The saga continues after the camps, exposing an arduous life for families who left the camps with nothing: no wages, no saved money, no property, and no home to return to. Seen through the unfiltered eyes of a child, her memories touch the heart . . .  Read more Look inside

Crystal City Lights

Dottie Zorn is twelve years old in 1943, living in Audubon NJ, when her German-born father is accused of plotting to aid the Nazis. The only evidence against him? A single handbill, displaying pictures of Adolf Hitler, found by the FBI in Dottie s closet. The Zorn family must move from their comfortable home to a tiny cottage in the Internment Camp for Enemy Aliens in Crystal City, Texas . . . Read more Look inside

The War Outside

"It's 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado--until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan. Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a "family internment camp" for those accused of colluding with the enemy..." Read more Look inside

The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II

"During World War II, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during the war, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called “quiet passage.” Hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City were exchanged for other more ostensibly important Americans—diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, and missionaries—behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany..." Read more Look inside

The Last Year of the War

"In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Crystal City Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity" . . . Read more Look inside

We Won't Back Down: Severita Lara's Rise from Student Leader to Mayor

Civil rights leader Jose Gutierrez chronicles the life of Severita Lara, a little-known female activist in the Hispanic Civil Rights Movement. Lara's ascent from a willful child to the mayor of Crystal City, Texas all began with the Crystal City High student walkout in 1969 . . . Read more

Resources:

West Texas History & Memories

Early Life in Texas County by County

Books about Texas People and Places

Amazing People from Texas County by County

Texas History in the 19th Century (Amazon)

Texas History by Category and Event

Life in Zavala CountyLife in Zavala County 1850-1950
 

What's your Favorite Book about a Texas County, Town, Person or Place? Here's our best reads list County by County

 

Mysterious TexasTrue Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texcas
 Loneliest, Least Populated Counties in Texas
Texas Cowboy HistoryBooks about Texas People 

County by County