What Drives One of Brownsville’s Leading Historians

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas – For over a year, Cameron County Historical Commissioner Eugene Fernandez has partnered with Local 23 News in bringing Brownsville’s past to life, a passion he has had since he was five years old.

“I was gifted enough in order to have a father who was really into history and was a great storyteller,” Fernandez said.

The accomplishments of his ancestors, including Jose Fernandez, ally of former Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, and José San Román, a well-known merchant and banker, fed his interest in history.

Living in places saturated with history like New Orleans and Brazil also enhanced the fascination in storytelling. Upon returning to South Texas, Fernandez started an antique retail shop,  started writing the National Register application for Old City Cemetery, which took seven years to finalize, did research on the old Jagou Plantation and helped restore the 1893 brick bridge, and got the acquisition of the original Espiritu Santo Spanish Land Grant.

“It’s extremely rewarding because you can’t go anywhere without history having been there,” he said.

With a final message of history being a roadmap for the younger generation.

“My frustration is the fact that history seems to be taking a back seat in our society and that is so wrong, it should be right up there riding shotgun,” Fernandez said.

Currently, Fernandez is leading an effort to save old, giant, Montezuma Cypress trees at the Jagou Plantation in Brownsville.

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