Originally part of the vast land holdings of Don Francisco Yturria (1830-1912), El Canelo Ranch has remained in continuous family ownership for five generations since its inception in 1864. The Burdettes have continued the tradition of land stewardship begun almost 150 years ago.

    El Canelo Ranch traces its origins to Don Francisco Yturria, the successful Brownsville/Matamoros banker, entrepreneur and businessman. Don Francisco indeed lived through and participated in shaping one of the most exciting and pivotal periods in Texas history.

    Some of the more important events that Don Francisco witnessed in his lifetime were the Texas Revolution against (and independence from) Mexico (1835), the establishment of the Republic of Texas (1835-1845), Texas becoming the 28th state of the United States of America (1845), the Mexican War (1846-1848) which was fought to determine today's boundary between Mexico and the United States, Texas's secession from the Union (1861), Texas's readmission to the Union (1870), and the French occupation of Mexico (1864-1867). Also occurring in his lifetime were the entirety of the Civil War (1861-1865), the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the abolition of slavery, and the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War.

    Certainly the Civil War was the most important event contributing to the successful enterprises of Don Francisco Yturria. During the War, the southern coast of the United States was blockaded by Union ships, preventing the Confederate states from exporting their most valuable and controversial commodity: cotton. To be able to export cotton to lucrative European markets, it was brought overland to South Texas, taken by steamboat to the mouth of the Rio Grande River, then transported onto ships sailing for Europe under the Mexican flag. Incidentally, the steamboats and ships were owned by Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy and registered to Don Francisco Yturria.  Furthermore, Don Francisco founded the first bank south of San Antonio, undoubtedly to facilitate financing these expeditions.

    At the conclusion of the War, when the wartime activities of Yturria, King, and Kenedy were deemed unpatriotic to the Union cause, all three men left the United States. After a two-year self-imposed exile to France, Don Francisco was granted a full pardon by President Andrew Johnson, the successor to President Abraham Lincoln, and he then returned to resume control of his business enterprises.

    With the wealth he had amassed from his entrepreneurial ventures, Don Francisco expanded the holdings of his wife, Doña Felicitas Treviño Dominguez, who was the daughter of the original grantee of the San Martin Spanish land grant in Cameron County. By the time of his death in 1912, Don Francisco owned more than 130,000 acres of land in Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Kenedy, and Starr counties.

    It is no coincidence that Don Francisco's northern-most holdings share residence in Kenedy County with the King Ranch and the Kenedy Ranch. With profits from their various ventures, Yturria, King, and Kenedy purchased large parcels of property in the "Wild Horse Desert"--the vast "Sea of Grass" between the Rio Grande and Nueces Rivers. From these properties, these three far-thinking men were able to participate in the huge “cattle boom” from 1865 to 1887, transporting cattle to northern markets and tremendously contributing to the economy of South Texas.  Don Francisco's 80,000-acre tract was headquartered at Punta del Monte, a centrally located point on the ranch.

    Upon his death, Don Francisco's properties were divided between his two adopted children, Daniel Yturria and Isabel Yturria Garcia. Of the Kenedy/Willacy county tract, Daniel acquired the eastern half, retaining the ranch headquarters at Punta del Monte, while Isabel acquired the property to the west, making El Devisadero her ranch headquarters. In English, the word Devisadero means "overseer," which explains the naming of this portion of the ranch with its slight elevation, which is the highest point for hundreds of miles. The area where the Inn sits is precisely the spot that the El Devisadero headquarters occupied.

    With the help of her four children, Isabel Yturria Garcia personally managed all of the assets passed to her from her father. Later her property was divided equally amongst her four children, Miguel (Mike), Alejandro (Alex), Maria, and Martin (Tino), with Tino inheriting the portion that was home to the El Devisadero headquarters. Mike was heir to the portion directly east of Tino's parcel and he named his share El Canelo Ranch. After the death of Mike, his four daughters, including Stella Zarate, further divided Mike's share, with Stella inheriting the El Canelo Ranch headquarters and the ranch name. Similarly, Tino's five heirs divided his portion equally, with the eldest son, also named Martin, inheriting the El Devisadero homestead.

    In late-1989, Stella Garcia Zarate (Mike Garcia's daughter) purchased Martin Garcia II's (Tino Garcia's son) share of El Devisadero Ranch, including the location of their grandmother Isabel's original El Devisadero headquarters. Since the two ranches share a common fence for approximately one mile, mutual access was very simple. Stella named the new ranch El Canelo Ranch II, relinquishing the official "El Devisadero" name to Tino's remaining heirs (her first cousins), who still own adjacent property.

    As soon as the transfer of ownership was made, Stella's daughter, Monica Burdette, and her husband, Ray, moved to El Canelo Ranch II and into the lavish hacienda-style house which had been built by previous owners Martin and Celia Garcia. The Burdettes immediately launched the Rio Grande Valley's first Bed & Breakfast. Within two years, Ray retired from active duty in the United States Army, retaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Since then the Burdette's have established and maintained an impeccable reputation in the hospitality and hunting industries. Nonetheless, they consider their greatest accomplishment to be their stewardship of the land on which they have lived for the past 17 years--land passed down from Don Francisco Yturria, who shrewdly planned prosperous futures for his descendants. The Burdette's desire and plan is to tend the land in such a way that they leave it even better than when they arrived.

    Stella shares ownership of both ranches with her six children. Monica and Ray Burdette continue to live on El Canelo Ranch II, pursuing various ventures on the ranch.  While Monica has continued the Bed & Breakfast end of the business, with mostly hunting or birdwatching guests, she actively promotes nature-tourism on the ranch and in the Rio Grande Valley area.  Ray continues the hunting enterprise on the ranch, conducting guided hunts both on El Canelo II and on other nearby ranches.  Available through the hunting service are fully-guided whitetail deer, nilgai, quail, dove, duck, turkey, pig and javelina hunts.  Some exotics are available on nearby ranches through our hunting service.  To improve the genetics of the local deer, Ray has also begun a whitetail deer breeding enterprise on El Canelo II Ranch.