In 1881, a young man named Zachariah Taliaferro White (Zach T. White) arrived in El Paso, Texas, with $15,000 in cash sewed into his vest. With the coming of the railroad to El Paso from all directions, he knew that something big was going to happen here and he wanted to be at the forefront. Being a pioneer was in his blood as both of his parents descended from the earliest settlers in Virginia where he was born and raised on his father’s farm and tobacco plantation.
Zach was 25 years old when he came to Texas. First to Austin, where he and his brothers built the first water works system for that city and then to Dallas where Zach and a business partner built their first water works system, then on to Waco. That’s when he sewed $15,000 worth of capital into his vest and set his sights on El Paso. His first El Paso business venture was operating a grocery store with a partner in an adobe building where the Mills Building now stands. That store blossomed into a general store where they also sold hardware.
Land was affordable in the 1800’s and Zach White purchased most of the land that we know today as El Paso’s lush upper valley. At that time it was covered with shrub and cottonwoods and he hired many men and purchased many mules to clear the land. Once the land was clear, River Bend Farm gave way. Since he knew all about tobacco, he tried that first but the climate and soil in El Paso wasn’t a good fit. He moved on to cotton and found that crop to be successful. If you’re going to grow cotton, you’re going to need a gin, so he and a group of farmers built a cotton gin near his brick factory. Like the Chamizal, a large part of the River Bend Farm was in a big bend of the Rio Grande and instead of building a bridge, Zach got clearance to change the course of the river by rechanneling it and this added hundreds of acres of farming land, which is now part of the present day Willows subdivision and the land where The Fields is located.
When Zach White was 80 years old, in 1930, he said that his philosophy for sidetracking old age was simple.
“Keep working,” he said. “Keep something ahead of you to be accomplished, something the progress of which you can watch with interest and with the realization that its accomplishment is of importance to your community and to your country.”
Zach White died on January 31, 1932.
The Fields stands on the final piece of raw Zach White land, our legacy land. We named this subdivision The Fields in honor of Zach T. White’s Farm that has been kept and farmed by the family. The Fields is special to us. It represents doing something great for our community. It represents building a beautiful neighborhood full of fine homes in which families can build their legacies in. “Keep something ahead of you to be accomplished, something the progress of which you can watch with interest and with the realization that its accomplishment is of importance to your community and to your country.” Zach T. White