Texas Women’s History Month: Patricia de la Garza
Patricia de la Garza de León
Patricia de la Garza de León was one of the earliest pioneers to colonize Texas. She and her family initially settled on the banks of the Aransas River in 1799 where they raised livestock and registered the first brand in Texas, a connected E and J that stood for Espiritú de Jesús, or Spirit of Jesus.
In 1824, she contributed 9,800 pesos and numerous livestock to found Victoria with Martín de León, her husband. Because people of all races, creeds, or color who swore allegiance to Mexico and upheld the Catholic faith were accepted there, Anglo and Irish families also settled Victoria. For this diverse group, de la Garza de León oversaw many community activities, such as setting up schools to educate the colony’s children. She also contributed $500 in gold for constructing a church.
During the struggle for Texas independence, two of de la Garza de León’s sons fought on the Texas side, and the family smuggled arms and munitions to assist in the Texas cause. Nevertheless, she and her family fell victim to anti-Mexican sentiment that arose following the revolution. She escaped to New Orleans, but upon her return to Victoria in 1845 she found her possessions scattered and her influential position gone.
After her death in 1849, her home site was donated to the Catholic parish. It is the location for St. Mary’s Church in Victoria.