We stopped at a red light next to a new Toyota Tundra pickup truck. On the side of the Tundra, there was an emblem with a star that read “1794 Edition.” Later, after some research, I discovered that this truck was named for an event that occurred in early Texas history.
In the mid 18th Century, young Juan Ignacio Perez de Casanova immigrated to Texas from the Canary Islands. He was part of a group of about 15 families, 56 pilgrims, who hoped to settle in South Texas. Unlike the Spanish Conquistadors who sought gold, these gentle folks wanted to plant seed, raise cattle, and rear families. It had been an arduous journey, but now they were home.
These industrious settlers from the Canary Islands were deeply religious. They apparently understood the Old Testament directive in Malachi 2, that instructed God’s Children to honor the Lord by building a house of worship even as they constructed their own homes. At great personal expense and hard labor, these faithful Believers erected what we now know as the San Fernando Cathedral.
In 1794, King Charles IV of Spain granted Casanova 4,000 acres of land that was located about 8 miles from present day downtown San Antonio. Casanova was very successful, and his ranch, “El Rancho de la Purisima Concepcion,” prospered.
For almost 200 years, the ranch remained in the hands of the Casanova family. By 1986, the name of the ranch was shortened to the JLC Ranch and was designated as the oldest working ranch in Texas. Ultimately, after seven generations had overcome storms, warfare, disease, and the tumultuous upheaval of a struggling economy, the family of Juan Ignacio Perez de Casanova could not defeat urban sprawl.
In 2003, the family sold 2,600 acres of their historic ranchland to the Toyota Motor Manufacturing company. The plant cost $800 million to build, employs about 2,000 people, and covers the equivalent of 157 football fields, with the capacity to produce 150,000 trucks a year. Additionally, over 600 acres were donated to the city of San Antonio, and a 30,000-square-foot nature center was created, teaching visitors about the rich history of the land upon which the new factory was built.
To honor Perez de Casanova, and the Canary Islanders who came to Texas, a special edition of the Tundra was built. From its brown leather heated seats, to its’ leather wrapped steering wheel with wood accents, it is impressive. Someone described the 2019 Toyota Tundra 1794 Signature Edition as a fully loaded Lexus LS on a truck body. Truly, it is a fitting tribute to the amazing pioneers who honored God first in their lives.
These Canary Islanders understood Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Putting God first will always bring a bountiful blessing. Try it this week!