Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15. The observance of this month emphasizes the impact of historical Hispanic figures in Texas and is a celebration of the contributions of Hispanic Texans to Texas history. Read about three famous Hispanic Texans that influenced Texas Independence and one that may have helped coin Texas’ nickname, “The Lone Star State”:

Juan Nepomuceno Seguín

Juan Nepomuceno Seguín

Juan Seguín was born in San Antonio on October 27, 1806. He was a Tejano revolutionary and politician who helped establish Texas independence. Seguín was elected Mayor of San Antonio in 1833. He was at the Alamo when the siege began, but left to deliver a message to Sam Houston; he fought in the Battle of San Jacinto which led to the defeat of Santa Anna and the Mexican Army, and the independence of Texas. In 1837 Seguín became the first Tejano to serve in the new Republic of Texas Senate but left when he was re-elected San Antonio mayor in 1840. He served as a Bexar County constable, election-precinct chairman, and Wilson County Judge before returning to Mexico in the late 1860s.

In 1974 his remains were returned to Texas and he was buried in Seguín, named in his honor for all he did for Texas independence.

José Antonio Navarro

José Antonio Navarro

José Antonio Navarro was born in Bexar (San Antonio) on February 27, 1795. He was a Tejano leader during the Texas Revolution and fought for the rights of Tejano citizens. He supported Texas statehood in 1835 and was one of two native-born Tejano signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, signing alongside his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz. Navarro was elected to the Texas Congress as a representative of Bexar, where he was a champion for the advancement of Tejano rights. Navarro was the sole Hispanic delegate at the Convention of 1845, voted in favor of the annexation of the Republic of Texas to the United States, and remained to assist in writing the Constitution of 1845. He was elected to the state Senate twice.

To recognize his contributions and loyalty to the state of Texas, and Tejanos the state legislature named Navarro County in his honor in 1846.

José Francisco Ruiz

José Francisco Ruiz

José Francisco Ruiz was born in Bexar (San Antonio) on January 28, 1783. He was a public official, military officer, and educator. He was also José Antonio Navarro’s uncle. Ruiz was appointed San Antonio’s schoolmaster in 1803, elected to city council in 1805, and joined the Bexar Provincial Militia in 1811. He served in the Battle of Medina in 1813 but was forced into exile. While in exile he lived with the Comanche. Upon returning to Texas, he continued his work with Native Americans and helped them negotiate a peace treaty with the Mexican government.

He retired from the Mexican military because he believed strongly in the Republic of Texas. He was one of two native-born Tejano signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, signing alongside his nephew.

José Antonio de la Garza

José Antonio de la Garza was born on May 31, 1776. He was an early landowner in San Antonio and was commissioned in 1818 by the Spanish government to mint the first coins in Texas. These coins were minted at Houston Street and Soledad Street in San Antonio, which may have been the city’s first bank. He put his initials “JAG” on one side of the coin and a single star on the other. It is rumored that the star served as an inspiration to the modern symbol of the state of Texas, the “Lone Star.”

Garza was elected Mayor of San Antonio once in 1813 and again in 1832, but due to allegations of shady business deals and rumors of his family believing Texas should remain part of Mexico he was rejected by local residents. Despite this, Garza County was named after his family who had been in San Antonio for nearly two centuries.

[1] Bullock Museum. (n.d.). SPANISH-ERA COIN WITH “LONE STAR” MOTIF. The Story of Texas. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.thestoryoftexas.com/discover/artifacts/1-2-real-jolas.

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