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What is a rancho in Mexico?

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By lunalatina1955 - Posted on 16 February 2019

Since my grandparents came from a "rancho", but died too early to share their experiences or descriptions in Mexico....I always deduced that a "rancho" was a parcel of land that usually had "animales" - like ganado, horses, goats, sheep. That was my experience from my family's northern roots (Nuevo Leon/Coahuila) where I have fond memories of "roughing" it at the family rancho. Great fun, really.

But when I visited the "rancho" where my mother's family was from (near Las Moras - in Aguajes - within the jurisdiction of Tlaltenango, Zacatecas), I discovered that the definition of "rancho" changed from large parcels of land where animals were raised to super large parcels of land that is harvested for food. Such an "aha" moment for fact, I was able to see the same home where my great great grandfather was raised - and witnessed that it is still a working farm.

Background for the group: Los Aguajes is a 10-20 minute car ride from Cicacalco - a small town that is considered to be predominately indigenous (at one point). In fact, as one enters the vicinity of Los Aguajes, one has to go through "Las Moras" - but as one goes into Los Aguajes - one learns that part of its' lands belong to the indigenous people of Cicacalco.

A question for the group: Is there a way we can find out any historical information on these "ranchos"? Who were the land grands given to originally? Did the Mexican constitution affect the land owners of these ranchos like the haciendas?

Hola Lunalatina,

I’m not familiar with that area, but here’s a link to the Tierras y Aguas archives in Guadalajara, 1584-1866. These are titulos de mercedes de tierras, and several were granted to “los naturales” of various pueblos. The first roll are the indexes, which name the locations and the recipients. They’re sorted by “libros,” and each “libro” covers so many years; each grant is numbered. You can find the corresponding rolls, which are listed by years.

As for the term “rancho,” from what I can tell, in earlier years, it usually meant a place for animals and husbandry, as you mentioned, and “labor” was used for cultivation, but I suppose “rancho” later became a generic term for both.

Good luck!
Manny Diez Hermosillo

Thank you Manny! In fact, Tlaltenango is mentioned

Thank you Manny! In fact, Tlaltenango is mentioned

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