Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Interview with the Don Martin De Leon, Father of Victoria

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JT: Good morning Don Martin.

MD: Hello, Jared. I have to admit, I have been enjoying your blogs.

JT: Don, thank you very much. It is a wonderful city; I hope to add something to it.

MD: That is good Jared. I wanted to do the same before I relocated to N. Vine and Red River. After I moved there, my influence was more of a spiritual nature if you know what I mean.

JT: So, what kind of good deeds did you do here?

MD: Well for starters, I founded the city. I named it after the first president of Mexico, General Guadalupe Victoria. Heck, Don Alonso already named the river “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe” when he travelled close to here, so I thought it a nice connection to simply add “Victoria” to honor our first president in Mexico and continue the name to Our Lady.

JT: Oh, so you just founded the city of Victoria? Don, I kid, that is a pretty large adventure. That pretty much makes you the “Father of Victoria” doesn’t it?

MD: I wouldn’t necessarily say that. The history around here goes back centuries with Native Americans and even the French when they were looking for the Mississippi River. But, yes, this was pretty much one of the first lasting settlements in the area.

JT: So, Don Martin, I see you were busy with establishing Victoria. Let’s hear more about the Don himself.

MD: Well, I married Patricia de la Garza and raised 10 children. We had four sons and six daughters. If you want to get a local economy thriving, children are the answer. Many of my sons-in-law wrote Texas history with their lives in their battle against the dictator Santa Anna. I am especially proud of one of Placido Benavides who is known as the “Texas Paul Revere” for warning the residents of Santa Anna’s approach. He rode from San Patricio to Goliad to Victoria. Another wonderful son-in-law, José María Jesús Carbajal, who married my dear Refugia, platted the city of Victoria. Of course I always felt the name “Main Street” was rather base, so I decided to call it “Calle de los Diez Amigos” or as you have remembered it, “Street of Ten Friends.” Of course, these “ten friends” were close to me, but more important, they were close to Victoria. Here is a list of them, Jared, because I know you are horrible with remembering names: myself, Fernando De Leon, Sivestre De Leon, Jose Maria Jesus Carbajal, Placido Benavides, Rafael Manchola, Leonardo Manso, Julian de la Garza, Valentino Garcia, and Pedro Gellardo.

JT: That is very interesting Don Martin. It appears that you have had such an impact on this community. As I travel down “Main Street” today, I see a sign mentioning the “Street of Ten Friends.”

MD: I know. I hear Victoria is attempting the Main Street Program. Don’t you think it would be interesting to get back to the roots of this city and rename the street I coined as “Calle de los Diez Amigos.” Talk about making a difference to remember, I mean every city has a Main Street, you would be the only one and differences matter. And to boot, if you pardon my pun for your new marketing campaign, it would delve into your history like what the Main Street Program is aiming for. Heck, I would call it the “Street of Ten Friends” program. I do know something about branding you know. My cattle brand “E-J” was the first registered in what was to be Texas. Victoria was also the “only one (colony) in which Mexican customs and traditions prevailed.” You know my homestead is on that street?

JT: Really, where is your homestead? And what the heck did the “E-J” brand stand for?

MD: I loved cattle. It was my favorite way to get back out to the land and make it productive. I created the brand so that I would constantly remember why I am here, who I serve, and where I hope to be. The “E-J” is short for “Espiritu de Jesus.” My homestead is where St. Mary’s Church is located now. My wife, God rest her soul, is the silent patroness of Victoria. She “gave her inheritance of $9,800, plus another $300 valuation of cows, horses, and mules, in order to help get the colonization off the ground.” She opened our home to the community on many occasions. She was also very close to her Faith, she donated $500 worth of gold and the land to establish a church. Without her, I seriously doubt Victoria would still be here. In fact, she was influential from the beginning of her Victorian days to the end of Victoria days.

JT: Don Martin, I appreciate the time for this interview. As Father’s Day approaches, send some prayers on our behalf His way. I am sure the “Father of Victoria” has some special influence for his people.

MD: Jared, thanks for the opportunity. By the way, when you going to come visit me at my place? I will see you soon.

n.b. Considering the dialogue style, listed below are many of the sources I used for this post.

Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.