A lifelong student of ancient history and current events, Mason Bird is a family-oriented undergraduate student. When not working toward a degree in cyber security, Mason Bird enjoys vacationing with his extended family on South Padre Island.
Once inhabited solely by the Karankawa tribe of Native Americans as well as migratory birds and sea turtles, the Texas island town is now home to 2,816 locals, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2016 report. The island was discovered in the 18th century and granted to Nicolas Balli by Spanish King Carlos III in 1759. It was eventually passed down to Balli’s grandson Padre Jose Nicholas Balli, a priest who established the first settlement on the island and taught Christianity to the natives.
Padre Balli didn’t name the island after himself; rather, it was referred to as Isla de Santiago, but locals held great affection for Padre Balli and soon began referring to the island as La Isla Del Padre, which in English translates to Padre Island. Mexico took ownership of the island after the Mexican Revolution of 1820, but it was claimed by the Republic of Texas in 1836 and eventually acquired by the United States following the Mexican-American War.