Tejano Association for Historical Preservation

Lorenzo de Zavala Chapter

October 2001



The Houston Rotary Club recently hosted an elegant luncheon on Oct. 11, 2001 in honor of Thomas Kreneck, Ph.D. who delivered the keynote address regarding his book "Mexican American Odyssey Felix Tijerina, Entrepreneur and Civic Leader, 1904-1965." Family members of Felix Tijerina, the Houston Rotary Club and well-known LULAC Council 60 Members attended this luncheon.

Shown in the photo above Front Row: Katie Tijerina (granddaughter), Richard Holgin, Frank Urteaga, Ernest Eguia, Felix Tijerina, Jr. (son) kneeling; Back row deForest Ralph, Dr. Tom Kreneck, Judge Felix Salazar, Derek Munger and Benny C. Martinez. Photo is provided courtesy of the Houston Rotary Club. Dr. Kreneck, de Forest Ralph of the Houston Rotary Club, Felix Tijerina, Jr. and his daughter later spoke the same day supportively to the students of Tijerina Elementary, HISD. Additional guests at Tijerina Elementary were Felix Salazar, Attorney at Law, Richard Holguin, Ernest Eguia, Benny C. Martinez, President, Tejano Association for Historical Preservation, Loretta M. Williams, Secretary of Tejano Association for Historical Preservation, her daughters Helen and Catarina Williams. The Rotary Club is also selling copies of Dr. Krenickís book. For information call 713-721-3818.



Profile Dr. Angel Leyva, M.D.


Dr. Angel Leyva was one of the first Mexican-American physicians to serve the growing Hispanic Community of early Houston. He was born in Puebla, Mexico in 1889. He received his surgeonís degree in Puebla in 1916.

The unsettling effect of the Mexican Revolution led him to San Antonio, Texas. Even with its large "Colonial Mejicano," the young doctor struggled to get his medical practice started. His good friend, pharmacist, Alejandro Caneles (Canalitor) wrote to him from Houston, Texas and told him of the great need for Spanish speaking doctors to take care of the thousands of immigrants that worked for the ever-expanding Southern Pacific Railroad.

In the early 1920ís Dr. Leyva and the Canalitos opened the first Mexican American drug store in Houston. They named it Botica Guadalupana in honor of the Patroness of the Americas. It was located on the 1800 block of Congress Avenue where the kindly, young doctor developed a thriving medical practice. This block was the focus of social and business activity conveniently located between the Mexican Barrios of Guadalupe, the north side and downtown Houston, with the Farmers Market located on the banks of the downtown bayou.

Together with the Sarabia brothers, Felipe, Jose and Cosorro, who were prominent business people in the early 20ís, Dr. Leyva and Mr. Caneles opened the first Mexican movie theatre, the famous Azteca Theatre in 1927.

It was an immediate success as not only movies from Spain, Mexico and South America were shown, but also famous movie stars and vaudeville and variety acts brought the rich Hispanic culture to, these early Hispanic pioneers.

Doctor Leyvaís success and good looks attracted the beautiful Maria de Rufugio Reveles, herself an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico. Their marriage was the highlight of the growing Colonia. Their children, Angel, Jr., Gloria, Alicia and Graciela were to form a strong foundation for second and third generation Americans.

Dr. Leyva continued serving his people until May 6, 1978, when he went to meet his Master. He delivered and took care of many of our prominent Hispanic Leaders.

My recollection of his was that of a kind man who happened to be a doctor. His gray eyes, framed, by thin-rimmed glasses, spoke silent caring medicinal powers. His soft hands, like the velvet, made you feel immediate warmth. His pacifying voice calmed the fear of many two-year olds. No one was just Felipe, Emilio or Bertha. He added with feeling, the Spanish ending of Felipito, Emilito or Berthita, which made everyone feel a special endearment to this kindly, caring doctor. In rich times everyone felt a special endearment to this kindly, caring Doctor. In rich times and in poor times, he never turned away patients in need. He was a model for future doctors, dentists and fathers.


Profile of a Hispanic Pioneer: Felipe Sarabia

Felipe Sarabia was one of the four Sarabia brothers who were early pioneers of the Houston Hispanic Community. He was born in a small village in the Valley of Santiago, Guanajuato, Mexico in 1900. The rebels of the Mexican revolution in 1912 killed his father. His widowed mother fled to the safety of nearby Piedras Negras where she tried to raise her large family of Jose, Socorro, Felipe, Jesus, and infant Maria. One by one the three older sons fled the continuous revolution and sought the American dream to the north.

Felipe left home in 1915, with a sixth grade education and the clothes on his back. He made his way all the way north to St. Louis, laying track for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The backbreaking work strengthened his body but he never lost his dream to use his education to serve his people. He picked up any book he could find, even those in "English" which he could not understand. The tattered remains of "El Ingles sin Maestro" translated the news of his adopted country.

Finally in 1919, shortly after the end of World War I, he caught up with his brother Jose in Houston, Texas.

By the early 1920ís Socorro joined the brothers. The three brothers soon became successful business people in the Hispanic business center of Congress Avenue. They owned and operated the first book store, known as the Libreria Mejicana and soon published the monthly magazine "La Gaceta" and sold the weekly newspaper, "El Tecolote." The first battles or protests of discrimination were expressed here. The three brothers sent for the rest of the family in Mexico and the younger brother, Jesus, was set up in a grocery store in the near north side. The brothers joined with Dr. Angel Leyva and pharmacist Alejandro Canales to open the first Hispanic theater, La Azteca. Here, the rich heritage of Mexico was reborn in the growing Hispanic community.

Felipe went on to set up the first Hispanic owned business in downtown Houston in early 1928. It was located on Preston Avenue, just off of Main Street and near the old City Hall. It was a combination bookstore and import store specializing in Mexican products and phonograph records. It was an overnight success, attracting the many native Mexican-American truck farmers and the curious Anglo tourists.

The record flood of 1929 ruined the many businesses of lower Preston Avenue, but Felipeís determination helped him reopen the store. He increased his merchandise to include the many rich spices and peppers sought by his customers. He included a rich assortment of medicinal native herbs used by his people for centuries. This proved to be very helpful as the depression was just beginning and going to the doctor, (even the kind Dr. Leyva) was beyond the economic react of the unemployed "Mejicano." Felipe often gave away some of his valuable food products like garbanzos, lenteja, frijoles, and rice to the needy. He consulted with his good friend Canales, the pharmacist, and Dr. Leyva and authenticated the occasional use of his medicinal herbs like yerbaniz, manzanilla, te de sena, etc. When all the people had left was faith, he would sell them at cost the votive religious candles. Felipe and the Hispanic community survived the depression, but his young wife Bertha died of pneumonia shortly after the birth of their fourth child in 1935.

This would have fallen many a strong man, but Felipeís family, especially his brothers, brought him out of his deep sorrow. With more determination he returned to become a successful parent and businessman. He continued serving his community, helping many a widow save her home, lending and giving money quietly to those in need. He realized the need to learn English and more about the government of his adopted land. He sold over 10,000 copies of "El Ingles Sin Maestro" and many of the classics of Hispanic authors. In 1962 he raised his hands proudly and became a United States citizen. He never missed an opportunity to vote and stood in line for hours to vote even after putting in a full twelve-hour workday. He joined the Port Houston Lions Club and proudly wore his Lions cap and jacket as he begged for funds to help the blind and those in need.

His example of service to his community and his appreciation of education has led his children to be active in their family, church, community and all received college degrees. His biggest pride was his numerous grandchildren, for as he often said, "they are our future."

Felipe Sarabia died a happy, peaceful death on April 1, 1979. His future lives on!


TAHP Adds Lists Of Names To HISD School Naming Lists


Tejano Association for Historical Preservation will be recommending to the school board that the names of Dr. Angel Leyva, Felipe Sarabia, the late Ventura Alonzo and the late Margaret Swett Henson, Ph.D., be added to the list of names to be considered for naming of HISD Schools. Also the  Tejano Association for Historical Preservation commends the recommendation of Mrs. Gallegos, HISD School Board member to consider naming an HISD School after the late Rudy Vara. The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation also recommends The Montrose Conservatory School of Music to be redesignated the Eloy Perez Conservatory School of Music.



The Cesar Chavez Hispanic Pride Day Parade

The parade will be held on March 23, 2002. This parade will have a Vaquero Theme and be in Honor of the late Rudy Vara.

The Medical Center Chapter of International Association of Administrative Professionals

Invites you to the Medical Center Chapter IAAP Silent Auction

Mon., Nov. 12, 2001 from 5:30 p.m. Ė 8:00 p.m., Crowne Plaza Medical Center Hotel 6701 South Main 2nd Floor, San Antonio Room 

Bidding starts at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 7:15 p.m.

Cash & Checks will be accepted. Sorry, no credit cards! 

You can join us for dinner or you can stop by just to shop! There is no charge to shop but dinner will be $16 payable in advance or at the door.

Dinner Reservations must be made by noon Thursday, November 1st:

RSVP to Lori Phillips CPS 713-794-4479, lphillips@di.mdacc.tmc.edu 

Auctions items will be provided by local hotels, restaurants, retail and specialty establishments and much, much more! 

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact: Celia Davila 713-798-3833 or edavila@bcm.tmc.edu

Yvette BaŮuelos 713-942-8000 ext. 108 or ybanuelos@hmh.org





Greater Houston Preservation Alliance will present its Good Brick Awards program at the Houston Country Club on March 14, 2002. The event celebrates the best of Houston and recognizes those who treasure her past. It will provide an enlightening look at our city with a unique focus on people from all walks of life who share an interest in our historic buildings and neighborhoods. 

Nomination forms are available from G.H.P.A.ís office at 712 Main Street, Suite 110, Houston, Texas 77002, or by calling the office at (713) 216-5000. Forms are also available online at G.H.P.A.ís web site at http://www.ghpa.org/. Nominations are due in the G.H.P.A.'S office by 5:00 p.m. on November 13, 2001. 

Good Brick Award nominations are accepted for renovation, restoration, or adaptive reuse of an existing building, for new buildings or sympathetic additions to old buildings that enhance the historic fabric of the community, for craftsmanship, for preservation-related programs or activities, and for outstanding service or leadership in preservation. A distinguished jury of preservationists, design professionals, and community leaders will choose the winners. The " best of show" award is named for our major sponsor, Stewart Title of Houston, who generously supports the program.  

The mission of Greater Houston Preservation Alliance is to promote the preservation of Houstonís architectural and cultural historic resources through advocacy, education, and committed action, thereby creating economic value and a stronger sense of community. 

Juan N. Seguin Blvd Dedication


On Sept. 29, 2001 at 10:00a.m. The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation held a dedication ceremony of Juan N. Seguin Blvd. Park Road 1836 at the San Jacinto Monument. Mr. George Donnelly, Pres. and CEO of the San Jacinto Museum delivered the welcome address. Rev. John Zabelskas blessed the road and ended the ceremonies in prayer for all who had perished on the battlefield. The Cesar Chavez High School ROTC posted the colors. Ms. Bea Svambera and her LaPorte Junior Historians (dressed in 1830 costumes) recited the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. Miss Sonia Ortiz sang the National Anthem. A moment of silence and a salute was fired by the TX Army in honor of those who perished in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Marilyn Chapman, V.P. General of the Daughter of the Republic of Texas, recited the Texas Pledge. Hon. Mayor Lee Brown followed by Hon. Sen. Gallegos both delivered a history of Seguin. Hon. Rep. Davis read a moving letter by Hon. Rep. Rick Noriega who was unable to attend the ceremony as he is stationed at Camp Mabry, and is a Major with the National Guard. Guadalupe San Miguel, Ph.D. spoke of the history of  Seguin.  He introduced and also spoke highly of Andres Tijerina, Ph.D. the keynote speaker. Andres Tijerina, Ph.D. spoke of Seguin's contributions and those of  the Tejanos to Texas. He also compared Seguin's harassment after the war as similar to that of which our fellow Muslims may be going through today.   He also commented on what makes Texas so special.  Mr. Benny C. Martinez, President of  the T.A.H.P. made the closing remarks and noted that his relative Juan M. Cabrera, a Canary Island Descendant, rode under Seguin. The Texas army fired then fired two salutes; one in honor of Seguin and the other salute was in honor of all of the Texas Heroes who fought against Mexico for Independence. A reception followed and the Ballet Ambassadors provided entertainment. Other officials in attendance were Former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, Hon. Sen. Jackson, Hon. Judge Vara, Hon. Mayor Wayne Riddle of Deer Park, Ex Mayor Johnny Isbell of Pasadena, Hon. Mayor Norman Malone of La Porte, ex-Houston Councilman and HISD Board Member, Felix Fraga, Roy Zermeno of S.W. Bell, Estella and William Zermeno, Macario Ramirez, Al Vasquez,  Ramona Davis, Ex. Dir. of the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance., Ms. Rhelda Ball, Principal of Juan Seguin Elem. HISD, Domingo Marquez of the GI Forum, Charles Flores of LULAC 60 and members of the MASONIC Lodge, No 1155 A F & A M, Pasadena, Tx. Earlier in the day a rededication ceremony of Hwy 225 to Independence Hwy was held in Deer Park. The Hon. Mayor Wayne Riddle presented Linda and Angel Seguin Garcia with the key to the city of Deer Park.


Shown below from left to right in front of San Jacinto Monument: Benny C. Martinez, President of Tejano Association for Historical Preservation, Mrs. Marilyn Chapman, V.P. General of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Loretta M. Williams, Secretary of Tejano Association for Historical Preservation, Linda Alonzo Saenz, Treasurer of Tejano Association for Historical Preservation standing next to the portrait of Col. Juan N. Seguin by the Artist Luis Fernando of Houston.



The Texas Army fired three salutes; the first in honor of those who perished on  9/11/01 in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania; the second salute was in honor of  Lt. Col. Seguin and the third salute was in honor of all of the Texas Heroes who fought against Mexico for Independence.


Tejano Statue Update

We are excited to announce that the Tejano Statue project is moving forward, and they need your help. The Texas Secretary of State incorporated the Tejano Statue-Capitol, Inc., DBA "Monumento Tejano," on April 10, 2001 under the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. It has a federal I.D. tax number and has applied for status as a charitable entity under Section 501 (c) (3) of the United States Tax Code. It maintains a registered bank account in the International Bank of Commerce in McAllen, Texas. The corporation has established other committees to carry out this project. The Texas visual artist and sculptor Armando Hinojosa has been selected to design and create a privately funded monument commemorating the contributions made by the Tejanos to the state of Texas. The bronze sculpture will pay tribute to this prominent and diverse community through six phases of early Tejano life in Texas. 

The committee wants to ensure that the invitation list for upcoming events, including the November 10th Gala, is as complete as possible; therefore, they would greatly appreciate it if you would send names and contact information of friends and colleagues you think would be interested in supporting the monument. In addition, if there are others that you think should have additional information please forward this request.

House Concurrent Resolution 38, passed by State Representative Ismael "Kino" Flores during this yearís legislative session, authorized the planning and erection of the monument on the Capitol grounds. The monument will ensure that the contributions of Tejanos to the State of Texas are realized, documented, and never forgotten. The Tejano Statue-Capitol, Inc., formed in April of this year, was established for the sole purpose of providing for the fund-raising efforts and to serve as a decision-making body.  

This is a tremendous opportunity to pay homage to our stateís cultural heritage, and we ask your help in sharing the excitement. The Tejano Statue-Capitol, Inc. will host a gala on November 10, 2001 at the new Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to serve as a fund-raising effort and an introduction to the Tejano culture, and it will provide numerous examples and exhibits of early Tejano pioneers.  

The Tejano Monument Organizing Committee thanks you in advance for your help in bringing together our community to honor a proud heritage. Their fund raising goal is $1 million. "Tejanos" are Texans who are the original Spanish and Mexican pioneers and their descendants.

For more information contact the offices of Holland Rich at 512-451-1558 or email at

Tejanos@HollandRich.com view the website at http://www.tejanos.com/ or Richard Sanchez, legislative aide to Hon. Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores at 512-463-0704 or email at Richard.Sanchez@house.state.tx.us




SHOWN ABOVE Tejano Association for Historical Preservation President Benny C. Martinez and the Distinguished Dr. Carolina Castillo Crimm, Professor of Sam Houston State University at the Gala for the Tejano Monument at the Bob Bullock Museum in Austin, Texas. To view more photos of the Tejano Monument Gala please visit the website of http://www.tejanos.com/galfoto.htm





On the 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the National D-Day Museum will unveil its new "D-Day Invasions in Pacific" exhibit in honor of the men and women who fought for our freedom. Friday Dec. 7th Ė Sunday Dec. 9th, New Orleans will host a variety of events commemorating the Allied struggle and ultimate victory in the Pacific.

The events will begin at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7th with a citywide "Pealing of the Bells" to commemorate the moment sixty years ago when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Later the Pacific Victory Parade will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will honor the men and women who served through the Pacific. Other scheduled events are planned up until Sunday, Dec. 9th at 3:00 p.m. A Memorial Service will be held at St. Louis Cathedral in memory of all who served and those who still serve their country today. For more information contact the National D Day Museum at (504) 527-6012 or visit web page at





The Becerra Descendants cordially invite you to attend the dedication of the Manuel Becerra Historical Marker on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2001 at 1:00 p.m. Zaragoza Birthplace State Historical Site La Bahia, Goliad, Texas. Manuel Becerra was born at Presidio La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo in 1762. Manuel Becerra played a significant role in the settlement and politics of the region. Becerra and his wife, Juan Maria Cadena, their two daughters, Maria Josefa and Gertrudis were leading citizens of La Bahia. In 1820 Antonio Maria Martinez, the last Spanish Governor of Texas called for the formation of the Ayuntamiento of La Bahia as required in the Spanish Constitution of 1812. The Ayuntamiento or Town Council included Manuel Becerra, who was elected its first secretary. Becerraís involvement with colonization efforts came the following years, as he was selected to accompany Stephen F. Austin to the Colorado River to find a suitable site for Austinís first colony. His friendship with Empresario Martin de Leon led to his eventual responsibility with De Leonís Guadalupe Colony in 1827 when De Leon placed Becerra in charge of the colonyís political and business affairs. The same year, Becerra helped negotiate a treaty with the Coco and Karankawa tribes to enhance peace and stability in the region. In 1832 Becerra received a land grant of 8,856 acres in what is now Refugio County and later assisted colonizer James Power in the colonization of the Power colony at Villa de Refugio.

As a citizen under the flags of Spain, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, and the United States, Manuel Becerra bore witness to many of the formative events in Texas history and played a significant role in colonization efforts. He died in what is now Refugio County about 1849. Masters of Ceremony will be Carolina Castillo Crimm, Ph.D. and Speakers will be Thomas Kreneck Ph.D. and Andres Tijerina, Ph.D. For more information email William and Estella Zermeno at


For more information about the history of Manuel Becerra, please visit the website of http://www.texas-settlement.org/markers/goliad/42.html




From left to right descendants of Manuel Becerra are Lt. William Edward Zermeno, Loretta Martinez Williams, Benny C. Martinez, Estella Zermeno and author of Stolen Heritage Abel G. Rubio standing in front of the Manuel Becerra Marker.



Pictured in front of General Ignacio Zaragoza de Seguin birthplace, La Bahia, Goliad, Texas (after attending the Manuel Becerra Dedication Ceremonies) are Joel Lara of Houston LULAC 60, Tom Kreneck, Ph.D. and author of Mexican American Odyssey and Del Pueblo A Pictorial History of Houstonís Hispanic Community (Dr. Kreneck is also an Honorary Member of LULAC Council 60), Mrs. Vera and Mr. Homero Vera, Editor-Publisher of El MesteŮo Journal of Premont, Texas. He is also the Field Historian for the South Texas Archives of Texas A&M University Kingsville and Chairman of the Jim Wells County Historical Commission.

For more information, please visit his website of www.el-mesteno.com



The informative conference "Somos Familia" was held on September 13-16, 2001 in Houston, Texas at the Westin Galleria. A bus trip was held on Friday September 14 with tours of the Texas Room by Mr. Will Howard of the Houston Public Library, Holocaust Museum, Clayton Library of Genealogical Research, San Jacinto Museum and Battleground. In the evening there was a wine and cheese reception at the Westin Galleria Hotel. On Saturday, September 15, 2001 a few of the distinguished presenters were Dr. Carolina Castillo Crimm, Professor Israel Cabazos Garza, Dr. Benjamin Johnson, Dr. Felix Almaraz, Cecilia Aros Hunter, Dr. Jesus F. de la Teja, Dr. Thomas Kreneck, and Joel Rene Escobar. Various bookstores from throughout Texas, genealogical societies from throughout the state and authors were on hand for selling and signing of their books. Mr. Joe Guerra, President of the Hispanic Genealogical Society delivered a welcome address during the luncheon. Dr. Aida Barrera, author of "Looking for Carrascolendas", delivered the keynote address. The conference saw well attended and very informative. For more information please visit the Hispanic Genealogical Society website of http://www.hispanicgs.com/




The fifth Annual Reunion of the Retired Firefighters of Houston, Texas was recently held at 4225 Interwood N. Parkway. Hon. Mayor Brown and Donny R. Myers, Dir. Administrator of the Houston Fire Dept. attended the reunion as well as Rose Martinez, widow of Elias Martinez, First Hispanic Fireman in Houston, Texas and his oldest daughter, Eva Garcia. Elias Martinez was born in Goliad, Jan. 20, 1928 and died April 4, 1992. He entered the Houston Fire Dept. in 1950 and retired in 1986 after serving for 35 years. A bench in honor of Elias Martinez was also recently dedicated and is close to the Firefighters Statue Memorial. The statue was recently erected in honor of firefighters who have passed away in the line of duty and for all of those who have passed away. Rose Martinez performs volunteer service for Resurrection Catholic Church and for the Denver Harbor Senior Citizens. Her son Elias Martinez, Jr. is an officer with the Houston Metro Police. He and his wife Jodie have two sons, Stephen and Joshua. Mrs. Rose Martinezís younger daughter is Miss Melissa Marie Martinez. Mr. Martinezís badges, award and photo are currently displayed along with other Tejano Association for Historical Preservation memberís artifacts at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitorís Bureau at 901 Bagby, City Hall, Houston, Texas.


Tejano Association for Historical Preservation expresses condolences to the family of Mr. John Mata, a former Tejano Association for Historical Preservation member who passed away on Sept. 14, 2001. Mr. Mata was a WWII Veteran, a government poll watcher in elections of Mexico, and a member of St. Patrickís Catholic Church.