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Victoria's founding family to gather, celebrate their roots

April 7, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.


IF YOU GO:

Friday's events include dedication of the monument of Placido Benavides, Alcalde of Victoria at 2 p.m. at Victoria City Hall Plaza, 105 W. Juan Linn St., and a visit to the de Leon plot at the Evergreen Cemetery at 4 p.m.

Saturday's activities will begin with coffee on the DeLeon Plaza at 8 a.m. followed by the 25th annual de Leon Symposium at the Leo Welder Center, 214 N. Main St.

A Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 402 S. Main St., and a banquet and dance will be held at 6 p.m. at Club Westerner, 1005 W. Constitution St.

The events are open to the public, but some events require tickets to attend.

For more information, visit www.deleonreunion2011.com.



When Main Street was named "Calle de los Diez Amigos" or the Street of Ten Friends, Don Fernando, his brother Silvestre De León, and his brother-in-law, Placido Benavides were three of the names of the original 10. Also after the colony was formed, Don Fernando De León was one of the first commissioners of the colony. Don Fernando was a devout Catholic, like his father and mother and spent much of his time and a great deal of his treasure for the benefit of the Catholic Church. He also carried on the major affairs of the colony, after his father died in 1833. He was responsible for much of the progress in the construction of the buildings and development of Guadalupe Victoria, the city which was laid out in a four league grid section with its public squares, church squares, market squares, and more.



Bio of Don Martín De León

Don Martín De León was born in Burgos (then known as New Santander) Mexico in the year of 1765. He died in Victoria in 1833 of cholera. His parents were Don Bernando De León and Madame María Galvan. Both parents were from aristocratic and influential wealthy families of Spain. Burgos, Mexico was named for the City of Burgos, a province of Spain where Martín de León and his bride's families lived prior to their move to Burgos, Mexico in the year of 1750. Don Martín de León, as he grew to manhood was a striking, dignified man of extreme military bearing. He received a fine education to prepare him for business. He was offered further college education at Monterrey, and to the disappointment of his parents, he declined and elected to engage in business for himself. He stood a full 6 feet in height, his complexion was fair and he possessed a symmetrical well-proportioned form. Most of his life was spent in the saddle, and he was a renowned and skillful horseman.

Don Martín de León, who played a large part in the de León colonization program, was married at Soto La Marina, Tamaulipas, Mexico in 1795. He married a very prominent young lady from a well-to-do family, Patricia de la Garza. Doña Patricia's family was also from an aristocratic Spanish family in Spain. Her father was a military man of high rank. To this union were born four sons and six daughters. All of the children were born in Texas with the exception of the oldest son, Don Fernando de León who was born in Cruillas, Mexico, state of Tamaulipas, 1798.

Texas, at the time Don Martín de León arrived, belonged to Mexico and Mexico was ruled by Spain. The jurisdiction of Texas, the northernmost State in Mexico was under the control of Gov. Salcedo who maintained his headquarters at San Antonio. As stated elsewhere, possibly later in the life of Don Martín de León, the old family Spanish city of Burgos, Spain with its countless numbers of magnificent cathedrals and churches inspired Don Martín to duplicate or even construct a more magnificent cathedral in his own capital city of Guadalupe Victoria. Don Martín de León began his business career with a large number of pack mules, which were loaded with tools, provisions, food and supplies. He delivered such supplies to the mines located a considerable distance at Real de San Nicolas. At the age of 20, he joined the regiment Fiels de Burgos, organized by the Viceroy of Mexico, for the purpose of fighting the Indians and repelling the frequent Indian incursions. He displayed great military qualities becoming that of a true soldier, and accordingly, he gained promotions to the highest rank allowed that of captain in the Mexican military. At that time no native was ever allowed to go above the rank of captain regardless of his valor or qualifications.

His first son, Fernando de León ,was born to this couple in 1798. He was destined to later carry on in the fulfillment of his father's creative dream of colonization. Together with their one young son, Fernando, Don Martín and Doña Patricia loaded their carts with household goods needed for temporary living at different places, and together with their servants, they came slowly overland and settled on the east bank of the Aransas River, below the road that winds its way to San Patricio in the wilds of Texas.

Reviving. Remembering. Celebrating.

These are the goals of this weekend's first De Leon family reunion.

The descendents of Don Martin De León and Dona Patricia de la Garza will have a homecoming celebration Friday through Sunday to celebrate and remind the community of the family's rich history in Texas.

The De Leóns' presence in Texas dates back as early as the 17th century with General Alonso De León-Gonzalez, who was born in 1639 or 1640 and died in 1691 in Cadereyta, Nuevo León.

Don Martin and Dona Patricia realized their dream of settling in Texas in the late 18th century, founding what is now known as Victoria.

The timing of the reunion also has special significance, honoring the anniversary of Don Martin's original land grant.

To date, 368 De Leóns from the U.S. and Mexico are registered to attend the reunion.

"I view this reunion as an opportunity to reflect on who we are, and envision how we can best serve in the future, individually and collectively," said family spokeswoman Blanche De León.

MODERN DAY DESCENDANTS OF MARTIN & PATRICIA

Guillermo Javier Barrera Jr.

DOB: Aug. 30, 1976

Education: Medical Doctor

Reside in Houston, Texas

Eighth generation; from Agapito

Married to Valentina R. Barrera

This reunion is an opportunity to learn more of the family and of Texas history.

Abbie Noll Kelly

My name is Abbie Noll Kelly and I am a sixth generation De León descendant. I was born in July 1942 in Victoria, Texas, to Fritz George Noll and Helen Fitzgerald Noll. My father's mother was Abelina De León, for whom I was named. She was a granddaughter of Felix De León, the son of Martin De León and Patricia De la Garza.

Joel De León

I was born in McAllen, Texas on Dec. 4, 1931.

Self-educated

I live in McAllen, Texas.

My ancestors are Candelaria De León and Jose Maria Aldrete.

I am a retired businessman. Like all the De Leóns, I started from scratch and succeeded.

It gives me great pleasure to be part of the De León family and be able to meet other relatives who I did not know existed.

John Martin Foester

I'm a sixth generation descendant of Felix, and I live near Port Lavaca. I have a degree in geophysics from Texas A&M University, and I am part owner of a small oil and gas exploration company. While the De Leóns, my ancestors, explored the frontier of Texas long ago, I'm exploring the modern frontier of Texas as well - just several miles underground in the search for oil and gas. Also in common with Don Martin's family, my family engages in ranching, here in Calhoun County. I'm excited to meet at the reunion the many relatives I've never met before and hear their stories.

Andrea Vela

DOB: Nov. 1, 1990

Student at Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Pharr, Texas

Eighth generation, descended from Silvestre De León

I am proud of my family's share in the rich history of Texas, a place whose culture and heritage are unlike any other. The De León family history has fascinated my imagination since I was a child and read through the books about Martin De León and Victoria, Texas on my grandmother's coffee table. I was delighted to recognize Don Martin's portrait in my Texas history textbook in middle school, and years later I researched Tejano heroes for one of my first college courses. The legacy of this family inspires me to continue the tradition of contributing to the Tejano community and to get to know all I can about my roots.

Carmelita Teeter

Granddaughter of Daniel De León, a descendant of Silvestre de León.

Orthopedic surgery in the Rio Grande Valley

Maria Elena Hancock de Leon

Birthdate: Oct. 24, 1954

Education: Eighth grade in Mexico

Where do you live? Mission, Texas

What child of Martin and Patricia's are you a descendant of? Sylvestre de Leon

What you do for a living? Business owner, nutritional program

What does this reunion or family mean to you? Very special and have chance to connect to my "De Leon" ancestry.

Olivia Diaz De León

Birthdate: Jan. 1, 1950

Education: sixth grade in Mexico

Where do you live? Pharr, Texas

What child of Martin and Patricia's are you a descendant of? Sylvestre De León

What you do for a living? Housewife

What does this reunion or family mean to you? Very special and have chance to connect to my "de Leon" ancestry.

Linda Perez de Leon

Birthdate: March 12, 1959

Education: Sixth grade in Mexico

Where do you live? Pharr, Texas

What child of Martin and Patricia's are you a descendant of? Sylvestre De León

What you do for a living? Business owner, bookkeeping and nursing

What does this reunion or family mean to you? Very special and have chance to connect to my "De León" ancestry.

Blanche De León

DOB: Oct. 23, 1953, in San Antonio, Texas, youngest daughter of three to Wence (Wenceslao) and Tillie (Otilia Kruse) De León.

Married to Mercy Leon Rendon2003.

I am sixth generation Tejana, descendant to Jose Felix De León, and his wife Salome Leal and Capt. Placido Benavides, Alcalde, Guadalupe Victoria(1835) and his wife, Agustina De León.

Judith Sierra Rodriguez

The second child of David Sierra Abadiano and Guillermina Rodriguez De León, and granddaughter of Alfredo Rodriguez Vidal and Aurora De León Giraud.

Judith was born in Laredo, Texas and she is sixth generation from Martin De León and Patricia de la Garza, and is a descendant of their son Silvestre De León de la Garza.

Michele Christine Barrera Arredondo

D.O.B. June 5, 1961

Born and live in Laredo, Texas

I am a seventh generation descendant of Martin De León.

I am from the Agapito De León family line.

I am an elementary school teacher. Next year, I will retire after 30 years of teaching.

Santiago "Jim" De León

Born May 23, 1913, only surviving child of Patricio Octavio De León and Sophia Lopez. He is fifth generation descendant of Felix and Salome Leal De León and Capt. Placido and Agustina De León Benavides.

Uncle Jimmy, as we know him, was a blacksmith like his brothers, Patrick Henry, Octavio Patricio (O.P.) and Wence.

Manuel Garza De León

Birthdate: May 23, 1962

Education: Bachelors Degree

Where do you live? Edinburg Texas

What child of Martin and Patricia's are you a descendant of? Sylvestre De León

What you do for a living? Licensed social worker

What does this reunion or family mean to you? Very special and have chance to connect to my "De León" ancestry.

Bart J.R. Erdmann Harrington

Descendant of Silvestre and Rosalia de la Garza De León, second son of Martin De León

Married Marta Becerra from Bogota, Colombia in 1987. We have two children, Catherine and Ian Matthew (Awarded First Place in Science and Engineering Contest for Freshman in DFW area 2010). Both Marta and I are proud Aggies, I have a BS in aerospace engineering and MA in International Management, Marta has a BA in biology and a MS in entomology. I have lived outside of the United States and spent extensive periods of time in Latin America and Europe. Fluent in four languages: English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. I have worked for 26 years in the Aerospace and Defense Sectors (USG and private sector). Presently, I work primarily on international aerospace projects and travel extensively throughout Latin America and Europe. I am a rated fixed- and rotary-wing pilot. My present position is vice president for a leading aerospace firm with World Wide Operations. The Harrington's live in Argyle, Texas and are active members in their church, Bart's hobbies include: flying, horses, history (Latin, Celtic and military studies) music and travel. Marta is a certified Spanish and biology teacher at Denton ISD and enjoys music, horticulture, horses, theatre and travel.

Ann Rose Wojcik

I am the second child of Bartolo Rodriguez and Patricia Harrington. I was born in Mexico City in 1956. I studied Pedagogy (Pan American University in Mexico City). Taught in schools and also worked for a company doing international business. I worked in the Embassy of Mexico during the NAFTA negotiations. I am married to Steven Wojcik, and we have two children, Helena and Tad. We live in Virginia.

Cleopatra De León

DOB: Jan. 21, 1975

Education: MS Applied Statistics

Where do you live? San Antonio, Texas

What generation? What child of Martin and Patricia's are you a descendant of? Felix

What you do for a living? I've had two careers. First, continuing in a long-family tradition of military service, I served in the U.S. Air Force (four years), Texas Air National Guard (three years) and New York Air National Guard (three years). Second, as a programmer and statistical analyst in clinical trials research and development.

What does this reunion or family mean to you? The reunion is a celebration of my heritage. It is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with extended family, both known and newly acquainted.

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