PEÑITAS, TEXAS. Peñitas is off Farm Road 1427 ten miles northwest of McAllen in southwestern Hidalgo County. According to local tradition it was established by a splinter group of survivors of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition of 1520, consisting of a Fray Zamora, five military officers, and their slaves. According to the story, Zamora's group was befriended by Calero Indians who lived beside the Rio Grande in dugout houses and thatched huts. An exchange in farming and cooking techniques resulted in an amicable relationship between the Spanish and the Caleros. After deciding to settle on the Rio Grande, Zamora and four others made a trip to Mexico to secure sanction and proper title to the land, the site of Peñitas. Not until 1749, however, did Spain make much effort to colonize the lower Rio Grande valley. The job fell to José de Escandón, who in 1749 founded Villa de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Reynosa south of the river. The common grazing grounds for the new town lay across the river at Peñitas. Because Reynosa was in a low area prone to flooding, it was moved in July 1802 to a site on higher ground fourteen miles downstream. After 1850 the site of Peñitas had several well-populated ranches, including those of Rómulo Martínez and Jesús Chapa Cantú.
Full article on the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas Online