De Leon, a Tejano Family History

De Leon, a Tejano Family History

De Leon, a Tejano Family History

De Leon, a Tejano Family History

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 of radical change. the government under which the settlers lived shifted from Spanish rulers to a newly independent Mexican government in 1821 to the Republic of Texas in 1836 and finally to statehood in the United States. the society changed from autocratic to democratic, the economy from mercantile control to capitalistic investments. the story traces the de Leóns’ success in founding Victoria and their exile from Texas during the Texas Revolution. Rather than end the history with the family’s expulsion from Texas in 1836, I felt it was important to follow their return to Texas and to discover what happened to the family and to their land and culture. Their adjustments to the new society in which they chose to live, as do most human endeavors, brought opportunities as well as difficulties.

I first discussed this topic with Dr. Nettie Lee Benson at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987. a renowned scholar of Mexican history, Dr. Benson already had turned her insatiable interest toward Mexican Texas, as her article in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly of that year attests. Her queries and guidance led me to develop a study of the struggles of Martín de León, the first Mexican empresario. the result became my dissertation. Regrettably, though she worked vigorously until the end, Dr. Benson passed away at the age of eighty-eight, before I had completed the project. Her inspiration, however, continued.

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Victoria, the town founded by Martín de León and his family in 1834, was, with Stephen F. Austin’s colony, the only completely successful colonization effort in Texas. De León’s colony on the Guadalupe River followed Stephen F. Austin’s colonization at San Felipe on the Brazos River by only two years. Each of them faced the challenges of equitably distributing land to settlers, of protecting the settlements, of . . .

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