Carlos de la Garza

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Carlos de la Garza (1807–1882) was a rancher in Goliad, Victoria and Refugio counties of Texas whose participation in the Battle of Coleto was instrumental in the surrender of James Fannin and the Texian forces.

Early life[edit]

Carlos was both a Tejano (Mexican born in Texas, or Tejas) and a Labadeño, or Badeño, (a descendant of a Presidio La Bahía soldier). Born in 1807 at the presidio, to soldier José Antonio de la Garza and his wife Rosalia, the family established a rancho (Mexican ranch) on land owned by Mission La Bahía. Carlos was engaged in the family ranching business and followed in his father's footsteps by enlisting in the Mexican army. In 1829, he married Tomasita García,[1] with whom he had three children. Carlos Rancho and Ferry Crossing became a hub for local commerce, as well as a crossroads for several communities of both immigrants and Labadeños.[2]

Texas Revolution[edit]

La Bahía translates as "the bay".[3] The Presidio was founded in 1721 by the Viceroyality of New Spain on the ruins of the failed French Fort Saint Louis near Matagorda Bay. A year later an adjoining mission was established on Garcitas Creek by Franciscan missionaries in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the Karankawa Indians. Both the presidio and the mission were relocated several times. The last move in 1749 was to what is now Goliad. Mission La Bahía was secularized in 1830.[4] According to historian Alonzo Salazar, many Mexican military families such as the Garzas had established ranchos on the mission lands with the expectation that, should mission lands be secularized, the Mexican government would issue titles to existing homesteaders.[5]

Along the Gulf Coast in what are now the counties of Goliad, Refugio, San Patricio and Victoria, Tejano involvement in events of the Texas revolution were partially influenced by the empresario colonization contracts. Over the objections of Mexican rancheros (ranch owners) in the area without legal titles, Irish immigrants James Power and James Hewetson were granted an empresario colonization contract in 1828 (amended in 1831) to settle four hundred Irish families on secularized land once belonging to Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission and Mission La Bahía.[6] When Power and Hewetson failed to settle the required number of families, local rancheros were issued titles as colonists of Power and Hewetson. Garza was able to secure title to a league of his own land only as a colonist of these empresarios. [7]

Mexican residents of the area feared land speculation by the empresarios, feeling threatened by the influx of the Anglo settlers taking over what they believed were their lands. With many friends among the settlers, Garza opposed revolution on the grounds that it would strain relations between neighbors.[8] Presidio commandant James Fannin targeted Carlos Rancho under the suspicion of harboring Mexican spies. Private homes were likewise looted under orders from Fannin.[9] During the events of the Battle of Goliad, rancheros such as Garza offered fleeing Goliad residents food and shelter on their lands.[10]

Many in the area wanted retaliation, subsequently organizing the Victoriana Guardes as a coalition of Tejanos and Karankawa Indians, employing the fighting skills of Spanish lancers.[9] Garza was chosen as leader. As scouts for José de Urrea at the Battle of Coleto, they ran guerilla tactics against Fannin.[7][11] The Texian surrender at Coleto Creek led to the Goliad massacre of prisoners. Garza successfully pleaded on behalf of his Anglo neighbors who fought with Fannin in the skirmish; their lives were spared by the Mexican troops.[12] The spirit of his defense was returned in kind by his neighbors after the Texian victory at Battle of San Jacinto. When Republic of Texas Secretary of War Thomas Jefferson Rusk began reprisals against Mexican sympathizers, he ordered Garza deported. The order was never successfully carried out due to a defense mounted by Garza's neighbors.[13]

Later life and death[edit]

Although he sided with Mexico in the Texas Revolution, Garza was in favor of the 1845 Annexation of Texas. Carlos Rancho survived an 1845 legal attempt by Louisiana resident Thomas Taylor Williamson to seize the land from Garza.[14]

Garza died December 30, 1882 and is buried next to Tomasita at Carlos Rancho.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Crimm 2003, p. 101.
  2. ^ del la Teja (2010), pp. 195–196 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)
  3. ^ Roell, Craig H. "La Bahía". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  4. ^ Walter (2007), p. 12
  5. ^ del la Teja (2010), pp. 194–195 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)
  6. ^ "Power and Hewtson Company". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Poyo (1996), pp. 113–116, "Finding Their Way" (Ana Carolina Carrillo Crimm).
  8. ^ del la Teja (2010), p. 198 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)
  9. ^ a b del la Teja (2010), p. 199 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)
  10. ^ Crimm 2003, p. 100.
  11. ^ Huson, Hobart. "Carlos de la Garza". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ Tucker (2012), p. 262
  13. ^ del la Teja (2010), p. 202 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)
  14. ^ Crimm 2003, p. 196.
  15. ^ del la Teja (2010), p. 205 "Don Carlos de La Garza Loyalist Leader" (Alonzo Salazar)

References[edit]