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 Texas : Towns A-Z / South Texas :

HAVANA, TEXAS

Hidalgo County, South Texas
Highway 83 (Old Military Road)
2 miles North of the Rio Grande
2 miles W of La Joya
18 miles NW of McAllen

Population: 200 (est)

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Havana TX,  Iglesia San Jose Church
At the beginning of the paved portion of the Old Military Hwy
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2009
While the community of Havana dates back to a Spanish land grant - it is hardly more than a colonia and a string of businesses along Highway 83 today. The Havanna cemetery on the south side of the road remains as the town's cultural cornerstone.

During a severe flood early in the 20th Century - many of the residents of Havana moved to higher ground which they named La Joya.
Havana Cemetery view, Havana Texas
A portion of the Havana Cemetery
TE photo, 2001
History in a Pecan Shell

The original land grant was made to José Matías Tijerina in 1767. Tijerina had come from Europe via Cuba and decided to name his small Texas community after the Cuban port/capital.

The community was granted a post office in 1886, which moved to Sam Fordyce in 1905.

Only in the 1970s did the population exceed 100 persons. In 1976 the community only had 176 people - and ten years later there were only 180. The descendants of José Tijerina are buried in the cemetery.

A rather unusual tombstone (not shown) is one for a Master Sergeant Perez - who served in the Union army during the Civil War.

Veteran's graves from other wars reflect the high degree of participation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in U.S. conflicts. One shaded grave has a small handmade helicopter suspended from an overhanging Mesquite tree.
Tombstone with glass enclosure
TE photo, 2001
hand-made helicopter, Havana Cemetery, Texas
A home-made helicopter hovers above a veteran's grave
TE photo, 2001
Havana Texas historical marker
Havana Texas historical marker
TE photo, 2001

Havana, Texas Forum

Subject: Havana, Texas
Dear TE, I was surfing the net and happened upon your [magazine]. My heart skipped several beats and at the same time I felt an overwhelming sadness. I cried upon reading the story on Havana, Texas. My ancestor (many generations distant) is Jose Matias Tijerina. I have been researching how my family arrived in Texas from Spain. I had known that my family had been given a land grant from the crown, but I kept running into roadblocks. I have even seen where this 6,500-acre grant appeared on the Texas map (beginning at the Rio Grande). I would like to ask if anyone would know if in fact Jose Matias Tijerina is buried in Havana, Texas, so that I may continue my search. I would like to thank you and your wife for publishing this information to show how rich in history Texas is. May we never forget that all of us had a beginning - no matter how small we were when we started. Respectfully, Diana Tijerina-Pittman, April 03, 2007

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