Los Fresnos, a small community located in Cameron County approximately twelve miles north of Brownsville, was one of the last unsettled frontiers of the Rio Grand Valley. It was almost the last tract of and to be opened under the “land company” system. The upper Valley had been quite well cleared by northern farmers by 1915 when the first settlers came to Los Fresnos. The town grew rapidly in the beginning until the Great Depression and again during the decade of 1940s, but always maintained a small town atmosphere.It is not clear how Los Fresnos received its name as several versions may be found. According to one account, it was named after the “Rancho Los Fresnos” established by Mexican ranchers as early as 1771. Another account tells us the proposed town was initially named Moseville by Lon C. Hill, Sr., naming Harry H. Whipple, an early setter who moved to Los Fresnos in the summer of 1915, states that it was already called Los Fresnos when he arrived there. A third account gives the credit directly to Hill, Sr. for the eventual name. “As he rode through the ‘senderos’ (winging lanes) viewing, and planning for the future development of, this beautiful country, he saw many ash trees scattered in the woods and on the banks of the ‘resacas.’
Because of this he began calling the locality Los Fresnos – Spanish for “The Ash.” To help settle the issue one might have to look to the account offered by Janita Zumwalt Steer, a member of the first family to settle in the new town, having arrived in April of 1915. She states, “One afternoon I remember my mother and Mose Hill talking about giving our place a name. They decided on the name of Los Fresnos…”
Many individuals were responsilbe for the development of the town site. In 1909, Hill, Sr. purchased several thousand acres within the Espritu Santo Grand including shares of 12, 20, and 22. He subsequently “organized the Rio Grand Canal Company’ in 1912. This company then sold 9778.94 acres to the Los Fresnos Land and Irrigation company were J.B. Scott, Juan Fernandez, and S.C. Moton.” Whipple remembers the “Scott-Fernandez” land company owned and original town site of twenty acres was created; however; “they were only the owners of the land” and another company was responsible for the promotions of the town, building the school house, arranging the train executions.
Impotant to the creatons of the town were the efforts of Mose Hill. In 1913 Mose Hill cleared the land for the dirt road from Barreda. Barreda was that area where present day Highway 100 and Expressway 77 intersect and the road was later surveyed by Mose Hill and it became Highway 100. It was the intersection of the road from Barreda and Old Alice Road that the little town site was created and later named Los Fresnos.