Martín De León

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Martín de León
Born 1765
Tamaulipas, Mexico
Died 1833 (aged 68)
Victoria, Texas
Resting place
Evergreen Cemetery
Victoria, Texas
28°48′43″N 97°00′48″W / 28.81194°N 97.01333°W / 28.81194; -97.01333
Ethnicity Spanish
Known for Empresario founded
De León's Colony
Religion Catholic Church
Spouse(s) Patricia de la Garza
Children Fernando (1798)
Candelaria (1800)
Silvestre (1802)
Guadalupe (1804)
Felix (1806)
Agapito (1808)
Maria (1810)
Refugia (1812)
Augustina (1814)
Francisca (1818)
Parents Bernardo De León
María Galván

Martín de León (1765–1833) was a rancher and wealthy Mexican empresario descended from Spanish aristocracy. He was the patriarch of one of the prominent founding families of early Texas. De León and his wife Patricia de la Garza established De León's Colony, the only predominantly Mexican colony in Texas. They founded the town of Victoria and named it after Guadalupe Victoria who had just become the first president of Mexico. The De León E–J (Espíritu de Jesús) cattle brand became the first registered brand in what was to become Texas. The extended De León family included politicians and freedom fighters who helped alter the course of history both in Texas and in Mexico. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6542 placed at Evergreen Cemetery in 1936 acknowledges Don Martin de León's contribution to Texas.[1] Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6543 placed at Church and Bridge Streets in 1936 denotes Don Martin de León's home in Victoria.[2]

Early life[edit]

Martín de León was born in 1765 in Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico to wealthy and well-connected aristocratic immigrants Bernardo and María Galván De León from Burgos, Spain.[3] Martín's first career was as a supplier of basic necessities to Real de San Nicolás mine workers. He joined the Fieles de Burgos regiment in 1790, being promoted to Captain.[4]

De Leon's colony[edit]

De León and his wife Patricia de la Garza [5] began ranching in Cruillas following their marriage. In 1799, De León moved northward and established Rancho Chiltipiquin, a cattle ranch in the vicinity of San Patricio County, Texas.[4] Their cattle brand of a connected E and J (Espíritu de Jesús) became the first registered cattle brand in what was to become Texas. The brand had been modeled after one used by the Jesuits, and brought over from Spain when the De León family emigrated. Martín officially registered it in Texas under the family name in 1807.[6]

De León's 1807 and 1809 petitions for colonization were denied by the Spanish government. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, colonization possibilities looked more favorable.[7] On April 13, 1824, prior to the 1824 Constitution of Mexico enacted on October 4, the provisional Mexican government approved a contract allowing Martín de León to settle forty-one Mexican families on the lower Guadalupe and Lavaca rivers, in the vicinity of Coleto, Garcitas, Arenosa, and Zorillo (Placido) creeks. It was the only predominantly Mexican colony in Texas.[8]

Family[edit]

In 1795, Martín de León married Patricia de la Garza. Her financial inheritance was part of the foundation of De León's Colony. Upon her husband's death, Patricia assumed the role of head of the family. She kept the family together during exile in Louisiana, and upon return to Victoria, became a leading figure to help shape and nurture the community.[9] Their extended family not only helped colonize Texas, but also included politicians whose deeds helped alter the course of history both in Texas and in Mexico.

The couple had four sons: Fernando, Silvestre, Félix and Agapito. Fernando helped trade livestock for munitions to help Stephen F. Austin, and later became aide-de-camp to provisional Texas governor James W. Robinson.[10] Silvestre fought beside his brother-in-law Plácido at the 1835 Siege of Béxar to drive Martín Perfecto de Cos out of Texas.[11]

The couple also had six daughters, who were overshadowed by the men they married. Candelaria married José Miguel Aldrete, who was 1835 state land commissioner of Coahuila y Tejas. Aldrete joined several Texas insurgent groups to resist President Antonio López de Santa Anna.[12] Guadalupe married Desiderio García, of whom nothing is known. María married politician Rafael Manchola who was elected to the state legislature in 1830.[13] Refugio married Mexican freedom fighter José María Jesús Carbajal,[14] who waged guerilla warfare in Mexico against López de Santa Anna's political machine. Agustina married Plácido Benavides who opposed López de Santa Anna's dictatorship, but felt Texas should remain part of Mexico. Benavides led a unit of Tejano fighters at the Battle of Goliad. He was recruited by Stephen F. Austin for the Battle of Bexar. Benavides earned himself the sobriquet of the "Texas Paul Revere" for his 1836 journey from San Patricio to Goliad to Victoria, warning residents of the approaching Mexican army.[15] Francisca married Vicente Dosal, of whom nothing is known.[4]

Death[edit]

Martín de León died of cholera in 1833.[16] His estate was worth $500,000.[17] De León is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Victoria, Texas.[18]

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6542 placed at Evergreen Cemetery in 1936 acknowledges Don Martin de León's contribution to Texas.[1] Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6543 placed at Church and Bridge Streets in 1936 denotes Don Martin de León's home in Victoria.[2]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "THC-Evergreen Cemetery". Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. Texas Historical Association. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "THC-De León Home". Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. Texas Historical Association. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Quiroz, Anthony (2005). Claiming citizenship: Mexican Americans in Victoria, Texas. TAMU Press. pp. 4, 5. ISBN 978-1-58544-410-6. 
  4. ^ a b c Roell, Craig H. "Martín de León". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Stewart, Paula. "Patricia de la Garza". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Acosta, Teresa Palomo; Winegarten, Ruthe (2003). Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. University of Texas Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-292-70527-2. 
  7. ^ Weber, David J. (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale Western Americana Series. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-300-05198-0. 
  8. ^ Roell, Craig H. "De León's Colony". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Acosta, Teresa Palomo; Winegarten, Ruthe (2003). Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. University of Texas Press. pp. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. ISBN 978-0-292-70527-2. 
  10. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Fernando De León". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Silvestre De León". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Huson, Hobart. "José Miguel Aldrete". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Rafael Antonio Manchola". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "José María Jesús Carbajal". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  15. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Plácido Benavides". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Poyo, Gerald Eugene (1996). Tejano Journey, 1770–1850. University of Texas Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-292-76570-2. 
  17. ^ Wade, Mary Dodson (2008). Texas History. Heinemann Library. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4329-1151-5. 
  18. ^ Martín De León at Find a Grave