The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of la Junta de los Rios

The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of la Junta de los Rios

The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of la Junta de los Rios

The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of la Junta de los Rios


No other history of the area has approached the broad interpretation of this book as it weaves this intensive study of La Junta so closely into the international trends and events taking place in Texas, Mexico, and the United States. The writing is witty, bold and enticing. - Andres Tijerina, author of Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos. Not quite the United States and not quite Mexico, La Junta de los Rios straddles the border between Texas and Chihuahua, occupying the basin formed by the conjunction of the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the Chihuahuan Desert, ranking in age and dignity with the Anasazi pueblos of New Mexico. In the first comprehensive history of the region, Jefferson Morgenthaler traces the history of La Junta de los Rios from the formation of the Mexico-Texas border in the mid-19th century to the 1997 ambush shooting of teenage goatherd Esquiel Hernandez by U.S. Marines performing drug interdiction in El Polvo, Texas. soldiers, rebels, bandidos, heroes, scoundrels, drug lords, scalp hunters, medal winners, and mystics, writes Morgenthaler. I found love, tragedy, struggle, and stories that have never been told. In telling the turbulent history of this remote valley oasis, he examines the consequences of a national border running through a community older than the invisible line that divides it.


President George Herbert Walker Bush looked over the crowd assembled in the White House East Room. His Ivy League–inflected Texas twang carried through the room as he related a story about Vincent Van Gogh volunteering to help victims of a mining disaster in a small Belgian town. He paused briefly, presidentially, then introduced a St. Louis teenager who fought to protect his neighborhood against crime and drugs, and a couple from Washington, D.C., who established an academy to tutor disadvantaged kids. These were some of President Bush’s Thousand Points of Light, and he had invited nineteen of them to the White House on that April day in 1990.

The Thousand Points of Light were a characteristic Bush mix of patrician altruism and corny populism. It was a way to reach out to the commoner, to connect with the electorate. Volunteerism is people helping people, not government helping people—a theme that foreshadowed the compassionate conservatism of the second Bush White House.

One of the nineteen points of light honored that day was Lucía Rede Madrid, a frail white-haired woman in a wheelchair. President Bush gave Mrs. Madrid two medals. the first was the President’s Volunteer Action Award, designating her as one of the Thousand Points of Light. the other was the Ronald Reagan Award for Volunteer Excellence, a special recognition of the individual whose contribution is greatest among the Volunteer Action Award winners. the brightest point of light.

Mrs. Madrid’s grandparents were among the five founding families of an unattractive village called Redford, Texas. Their eleventh child, María Antonia Luján, was born in 1878. She became a schoolteacher but gave up the occupation when she married handsome Eusebio Rede. Eusebio took up farming in Redford and María Antonia became the local postmistress. Lucía Rede was their daughter. After graduating from college in Alpine, Texas, Lucía married Enrique Madrid, who worked as a diesel mechanic at a nearby silver mine. a few years later Enrique put down his wrench in favor of running the Madrid family’s grocery store in Redford.

Located near the Rio Grande, about a half-mile above the El Polvo river crossing, Redford is named for the red rocks . . .

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