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De León, a Tejano Family History

By Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm

Publication Year: 2004

Combining the storytelling flair of a novelist with a scholar's concern for the facts, Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm here recounts the history of three generations of the de León family, one of the founding families of Texas.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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List of Maps

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pp. vi

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Notes on Terminology

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pp. vii

There has been much controversy over the correct terms to use for those of Mexican heritage in Texas. I have chosen to use the term Tejano (pronounced teh-hah'-no) for those who lived in Texas during the years prior to Anglo colonization. These are the...

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pp. ix-xii

This study follows the lives of three generations of the de León family as they founded ranches along the rivers of South Texas and settled the town of Victoria in present-day Victoria County, Texas. The last years of the eighteenth century and most of the nineteenth century were a time...

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pp. xiii-xv

My first debt of gratitude is to the late Dr. Nettie Lee Benson, who first set me on this path, and to my dissertation chair, Dr. Ron C.Tyler, director of the Texas State Historical Association, who has continued to maintain an interest in my work over the past fifteen years. I am also deeply indebted to...

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pp. 1-2

If Patricia de la Garza de León, wife of Martín de León, the founder of Victoria, Texas, were to return to her community one hundred fifty years after her passing, she would be amazed by the changes but pleased with how much remains the same. The buildings on the main plaza are...

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1. Settling New Spain's Northern Frontier, 1750-1800

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pp. 3-29

Martín de León, gangly with the new growth of his fourteen years, raced up the dusty streets of the thriving town of Cruillas in northeastern New Spain. His heart pounded and his breath came fast. He had slipped away from his Franciscan tutor to carry exhilarating news to his father. In...

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2. The de León Ranches in Texas, 1800-1813

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pp. 30-61

On January 1, 1801, Martín de León and his wife of five years, Patricia de la Garza de León, stood before the notary public at Presas del Rey in the Eastern Interior Provinces of Northern New Spain. Patricia, then about twenty-six years of age and the mother of two children, signed over her...

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3. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Victoria, 1813-1828

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pp. 62-95

In the spring of 1813 Martín de León led his weary family and their vaqueros and servants, and the long line of dusty pack mules into the small village of Soto la Marina. Riding with him were his four sons, Fernando (just turned fifteen), José Silvestre (eleven), José Félix (seven), and...

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4. Problems, 1828-1834

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pp. 96-122

In June 1828 José Miguel Aldrete, Rafael Manchola, and the ranchers of La Bahía stormed out of the governmental offices on the plaza at the town of La Bahía. The ayuntamiento had just received word from Saltillo that confirmed the rumors. After years of promises, the vast pastures...

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5. Tejanos and the Texas Revolution, 1834-1835

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pp. 123-151

By August 1834 the cholera epidemic had subsided, and life in Victoria had returned to normal. Residents had gradually drifted back to town. The strict cleanup demanded by the late empresario Don Martín de León and the city fathers had relaxed, and pigs and chickens had...

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6. Revolution and Exile, 1835-1845

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pp. 152-184

José María Jesús Carbajal was right. Santa Anna would have his revenge. When word reached Mexico City of Cos’ defeat, the generalísimo acted immediately. In less than a month, by the end of December 1835, he had extracted 400,000 pesos from a reluctant church and...

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7. Fighting for the Land, 1845-1853

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pp. 185-213

In June 1845 John Linn wrote to Fernando from the new capital at Austin that the United States had finally accepted Texas as a state. All that remained was for the citizens of Texas to vote for or against annexation. Linn reported that the ex-president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, continued...

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8. Tejanos in Texas, 1853-1880

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pp. 214-243

On one of those lovely spring days when the sky is brilliant blue and the breezes soft, the wildflowers all in glorious bloom, in early May 1856, Doña Luz Escalera de León, widow of the late landowner Fernando de León, and her twenty-year-old adopted son and business...

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pp. 244-247

If Martín de León were to return to his town so many years after his death, what would he have said of the contributions of his family to the settlement of Texas? Was their struggle characteristic of life on the frontier of northern New Spain? What lessons about the...


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pp. 249-285


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pp. 287-299


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pp. 301-311

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797581
E-ISBN-10: 0292797583
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292702165
Print-ISBN-10: 0292702167

Page Count: 327
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos, 16 maps
Publication Year: 2004