La Recluta y La Escuelita
Rockdale - US 79
0.7 mile east of intersection of
US 77 & US 79
La Recluta and La Escuelita
Jose Leal received six leagues of land in this area
in 1833. In 1867 coal was discovered, and the
railroad reached Rockdale in 1874. Not until 1890
did the first coal mine, owned by Herman Vogel,
begin operation. Others opened and more settlers
came looking for work.
Many workers came from Mexico, leaving behind a
Revolution. These immigrants settled on land owned
by E.A. Camp. They sharecropped, growing enough for
themselves, and worked in the mines. They named
their settlement, just north of the International-
Great Northern Railroad tracks La Recluta, or
"recruitment". Family names represented here
include Ruiz, Flores, Casarez, Zapata, Aldama,
Montoya and Lumbreras. The men, like so many other
industry workers at the time, received their pay in
tokens, which were redeemable only for mine
commissary purchases and doctor visits.
Several men were trapped in an International Mine
Company cave-in in 1913. Eight men and one mule
awaited rescue for six days. One man did not
survive. Yards away from the collapsed mine
entrance is La Escuelita, the small schoolhouse
built for the children of the community. Classes
were taught in English, although most students spoke
Spanish at home. As part of the Talbott Ridge
School District, the students transferred to
Rockdale schools in 1944 when the Districts
consolidated. In 1946 Rockdale merchants donated
benches to La Escuelita building. In 1953 the school
was deeded to the St. Joseph's Cemetery Association,
the support group for the community's cemetery,
where nearly 300 gravestones tell the stories of La
Recluta's families, many of whom remain in the area.
View of La Escuelita from US 79.
After 1946, La Escuelita sat
vacant. F.L. "Chano" Zapata
and his son, John maintained
the property. Their vision
led the Cemetery Association
to pursue a permanent plan
for the area.
THIS MEETING HAS BEEN CHANGED TO THE KC HALL!
La Escuelita, St. Joseph Cemetery group to meet - 2012
International Hall-La Escuelita and St. Joseph Cemetery non-profit organization will
hold a meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, according to spokesperson Dee Lerma. The
meeting will be held at the La Escuelita grounds on US 79 east of Rockdale, just past
the KC Hall.
Items set for discussion include member dues, donations for maintenance by family
members of those buried at cemetery and volunteers needed for October fund-raiser.
The meeting is open to the public.
For more information, contact Lerma at 512-446-6833
Rockdale Reporter - August 2, 2012