Texas Did the First Thanksgiving!


    The first Thanksgiving celebration to take place on ground that ultimately became the United States happened on April 28, 1598, twenty-two years earlier than the Plymouth Colony celebration. 


    It was a group of Spaniards, led by the Spanish explorer, Juan de Onate, that feasted on the banks of the Rio Grande after arriving near what now is El Paso, Texas.  They had just made it through a 350 mile trek from Santa Barbara, Mexico, across the Chihauhuan Desert, so they had plenty to celebrate. 


    In 1990, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution recognizing San Elizario, Texas, on the outskirts of El Paso, as the site of the first true Thanksgiving.  It is also of interest to note that my great uncle established a ranch close to San Elizario about 1899, some 301 years later, and he was elected a Texas Representative from that area in 1904. 


    My great uncle, Alfred (Fred) Lansing Sharpe was born in Ohio in 1858.  He moved to Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas in 1882.  He relocated to El Paso County, Texas about 1899 to take up ranching.  This was cutting edge adventure, as the county had only been organized since 1850.  He became very successful at this ranching endeavor and was particularly known for his ability to supervise effectively the many workers, young and old, that were needed.  His newly established U Bar Ranch was near the town of San Elizario and was along the Rio Grande, the river bordering the US with Mexico.  The ranch was near the small town of Ysleta, which is the oldest town recognized in what is now the State of Texas, having had its beginnings attributed at about 1682.  They resided in the city of El Paso. 


    I have to wonder whether my great uncle's ranch portion that was along the Rio Grand was land on which the first Thanksgiving in Texas cited above, described also as being along the Rio Grand in that area.  My inquiry of the El Paso Historical Society and the Public Library of El Paso, along with a local historian to whom I was referred results in the situation that they really do not know the exact location of that first Thanksgiving beyond the description given above.  So, I can only hope that our family was honored possibly to have had ranch land that shared the place of that wonderful celebration. 


                                                    D. A. Sharpe

                                                    805 Derting Road East

                                                    Aurora, Texas 76078-3712



Source:  "Texas Curiosities" by John Kelso, The Globe Pequot Press, Builford, Connecticut, 2000, page 160.