Tejano Association for Historical Preservation

Lorenzo de Zavala Chapter

Nov. Issue 2006


Post Office Box 231021   Houston, Texas 77223

The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation will hold a meeting on Fri. Dec.1, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Latino Learning Center 3522 Polk, Houston, Texas. 77003.  Issues to be discussed will be the Cesar Chavez Parade scheduled for April 14, 2007, San Jacinto Battleground, Tejano Monument, Inc. and fundraising.  T.A.H.P. is honored to have as our guest speaker. Mr. Ernest EguiaHe is a WWII veteran who served in the European Theater of Operations U.S. Army, from 1941 – 1945.  He joined LULAC Council 60 in 1947 and was Pres. in 1960 and 1961.  He also held two national LULAC offices under John J. Herrera and under Felix Tijerina.  He has held every office in LULAC Council 60 except Chaplain and is one of the original Board of Trustees.  Please plan to attend this important meeting.  All are invited.


Able Rubio author of Stolen Heritage has submitted an article about the Canary Islanders who came to Nueva Espana on March 9, 1731 and founded the Villa de San Fernando which later became San Antonio, TX.  For more information about the Canary Islands Descendants Association please visit the website of http://www.rootsweb.com/~txbexar/canarydes.html


The Canary Islanders
by Abel G. Rubio

            I believe it is necessary to begin this family genealogical history with a short narrative regarding a very brief history of the Canary Islands.  These notes describe the various Islands and those who inhabited them many centuries ago.  These were harsh lands in the ancient times, yet the original citizens, pagan though they have been somehow managed to survive in their own crude ways.  Spaniards had also been living on these islands for several centuries; they too found ways to survive, perhaps better than the natives.  It was from these Islands (mostly from Lanzarote) that Spanish settlers came to San Antonio de Bexar in early 1731.  When comparing the lands on these Islands and those beautiful and fertile lands around the region or San Antonio de Bexar, it must have seemed like paradise to the tough farmers.  For this narrative (footnotes 1-39), I relied on the historical works of the Reverend Fathers Pierre Bontier and Jean Le Verrier, these two were French Catholic Priests, Professor Ernest A. Hooton ,assistant Naticia I. Bates, Professor Felix Fernandez Armesto and Leslie Bethell.  Professor Hooton’s anthropological expedition departed New York in 1915, bound for the Canary Islands.

            The Canary Islands are about three hundred miles off the southernmost edge of the Moroccan coast, near the Northeast trade winds.[1]  These islands were the subject of some very intense colonization from about 1496 to 1525.2 The word Canaria implies the Island of Goats.3  Near the Island of Ferro, there are a great many lizards the size of a grown cat, though they are harmless, the reptiles are hideous to look at. 

            From the place called Nivaria which is in Canaria so called because of the great numbers of dogs at this place.4  There were prior expeditions to these Islands by early navigators, but it seems their purpose was to take natives as slaves, and to steal goats among other things.  Jean de Bethencourt’s purpose to conquer Lanzarote and Fuerteventura was to bring Christianity to the natives and to claim the Islands for Spain.  In reality the soldiers restored to abusing the Canarians and to capture them to be sold into slavery.  Under these circumstances the Canarians undoubtedly rejected the French methods to make them Christians.  Also, it is doubtful if the ancient ones learned the French language.

            It remained for the Spanish Conquistadors and the priests to teach the Spanish language and Catholic religion to the Canarians, apparently they were successful for the people speak Spanish and the Canary Islands are Catholic to this day. 

            The Island of Fuerteventura is described as a huge mass of uncultivated stony land, but at this place is to be found a great many goats and others beasts.  This island is inhabited by naked men and women, more so the men, they seem like savages in appearance and demeanor.5

            In 1341, an expedition to the Islands was ordered by the King of Portugal, the expedition was well armed and was manned by Florentines, Genoese, Castilians and Spaniards, including of course Portuguese.  The leader of this journey was a Genoese named Nicoloso de Recco.6  Though the distinction between a Castilian and a Spaniard is not clear, both spoke Spanish and came from Spain.  It is possible the Castilians wished to be above the Spaniards.  But this was not possible, except perhaps in wealth.  Spaniards and Castilians supposedly were of fair complexion, but this author has seen some of these Spaniards and or so called Castilians, and some have a somewhat dark complexion.  Perhaps the Castilians came from Castile, hence the name Castilian.

            When the large Spanish ships came close of the Island’s shore, the Spaniards would lower a small boat and continue toward shore.  When close enough the young gullible natives would come aboard and they would be taken away as captives.  The unsuspecting natives appeared happy (thinking the Spaniards were friends) they could also sing and appeared happy and much more civilized than the Spaniards.7

            At this time 1341, there were no camels, donkeys, or oxen present on these Islands, however, there were plenty of goats, sheep and wild hogs.8

            The expedition of the Geneoese leader to these Islands in 1341, accomplished little if anything, except perhaps arousing the ire of the natives, who by this time knew something about Europeans and their evil ways. 

            The conquest came in 1402, by Jean de Bethencourt, the Islands had been visited by Spanish Pirates prior to Bethencourt’s arrival. 

            Fathers Bontier and Le Verries historical works reveal much treachery, pillaging, and fighting among the unruly troops under Bethencourt’s command.  The worst folly committed by the adventurers was the taking or making a prisoner of the King of Lanzarote named Guadarfia.  The capture of the King was accomplished through trickery of which the French was quite adept.  The Spanish were the most notorious brigands of the adventurers who came to the Canary Islands.  Those unfortunate natives who fell into their clutches were doomed to a life of slavery.  Those natives captured were sent to Spain to be sold as slaves. 

            Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gomera, and Ferro was inhabited by Canarians who were supposedly Christians, this made no difference to the Spaniards and French.  The Islands of Tenerife and La Palma was inhabited by pagans.  This information was recorded in the journals of the Venetian Alvise Cadamasto in 1455, who visited the islands while in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator.9

            Fathers Jean Le Verries and Pierre Bontier were the Chaplains for Bethencourt’s expedition, the father seemed to dwell much on the conquests of the conqueror but not too much else, such as describing the various islands and his knowledge of the conquered people. 

            Father Bontier was a Franciscan Monk of St. Javin Marness officiated at Lanzarote in the church of St. Martial de Rubicon.  Father Le Verries was the priest of Fuerteventura.10

            The Castile at Rubicon was built by Bethencourt and was located in Lanzarote.  The island which is called Tenerriz, Tenerife is called the “Island of Hell.”  Tenerife is inhabited by the hardiest of people in all the islands.11

            The Great Canary is some twenty leagues long and twelve wide, the distance is twelve leagues from Fuerteventura.  There are large mountains on this island.  The natives are excellent fisherman and they go about their business quite naked save for a girdle of palm leaves.  They are a handsome people and the women are very beautiful.  The women wear skins to cover their bodies.  There are an abundance of animals here such as hogs, goats and sheep.  One may also see wild dogs which resemble wolves but are smaller.12

            The Island of Erbania (Fuerteventura) is some seventeen leagues long and about eight wide, the soil on this island is sandy.  There is a great stone wall which traverses

the island from one side to the other.  The inhabitants of this island are numerous; they are also hard to take (capture).  Also they are formidable in combat.  They give the Christians no quarter in combat.  These people are of a resolute character, two kings rule Fuerteventura.13

            Lanzarote is about four leagues north and northeast from Fuerteventura, between these two islands is the Island called Lobos which is not inhabited.  The natives of Lanzarote called it Tite-roy-gatra, its size and shape is like the island of Rhodes.  At one time Lanzarote contained many villages and good homes with numerous people, but the Spaniards frequently made raids and captured many natives which they sold into slavery.  The result was that when Bethencourt arrived there were fewer than three hundred people.  Bethencourt conquered the remaining Canarians, but with much difficulty.  After the capture the conqueror had them baptized.  The Canarians not knowing the French language never knew they had just become Christians on order of Bethencourt.  The inhabitants of Lanzarote are a fine race of people; the men go about naked while the women are very beautiful and more modest.  The women cover their bodies with long leather robes which touch the ground, some of these beautiful women have up to three husband and many children.14  With three husbands one can easily understand why these women had so many little ones.  No doubt they also ruled the roost. 

            Bethencourt’s adventurers had great troubles with the Canarians who fought fiercely.  In one encounter they killed a huge native said to be nine feet tall.  The conqueror ordered his men to take the natives alive, but they had to kill the nine foot native who fought so gallantly.  The adventurers feared the big Canarian.15  The King of Spain was so pleased with Bethencourt’s conquering the islands that he made him Lord of these islands.  The King also presented the Conqueror two fine mules which he rode to re-explore the islands.16 

            One of Bethencourt’s last duties was when he presented himself before the Pope to request a prelate for the Canary Islands.  The Pope granted his request by appointing Father Albert de Las Casas as Bishop of the Canary Island.17

            The Lord Bethencourt died in 1423.  Father Jean Le Verries was by his side throughout his illness or until he died.18

            Father Alonso de Espinosa was a Dominican Priest and he was also a writer of the 1580s and 1590s.  Father Espinosa came to Tenerife, Canary Islands when he heard that the image of the Virgin Mother and her child had been among the Guanches, (so named by the Spaniards) almost a century before the conquest of 1402.  The priest was a member of the religious fraternity who had charge of the image at Candelaria, or the church at Candelaria.19  It is not known where Father Espinosa came from, but it was probably somewhere in Spain

            For some reason the Spaniards gave the name Guanches to the original citizens of the Canary Islands.  In 1496, these Guanches were incorporated into the crown of Castile.20  The Guanches gave the Spaniards the name “Godos,” the meaning of these words could indicate something of their ancestors.  Spaniards were notorious for naming some people after a creature. 

            The principal works of Father Espinosa was related to the image of Our Lady of Candelaria and the miracles performed by it; this work was published at Seville in 1594.21  The Guanches were not able to swim, they had their homes in caves, and likewise they used caves for burials.22  It seemed unusual for the Tenerife natives to not be able to swim. 

            The Canarians from La Palma had no knowledge of agriculture and as those from Tenerife had their homes in caves and probably used the caves for burials.  There was racial distinction among the natives of Tenerife, they apparently measured their wealth and status by the size of the goat herds they owned.  In this respect the blonds far surpassed the darker complexioned ones.  The Guanche nobles attempted to preserve the blood line (blonde) by practicing endogamy, the King or Lord would not marry anyone of the lower order.  Some natives from Tenerife were very fair of complexion while others were dark.  But the top flock owning aristocracy was that of the blond element.23 

            Some of the blond people had deformed features, while no mention was made of the darker element.  Even in this unchristian society just emerging from the dark ages there was discrimination among the natives.  The blonds lived on the northern side of the island, on the most fertile areas, while the unfortunate darker ones lived on the south side, the most arid and undesirable lands.24 

            The lords of Tenerife married women of the same family in order to preserve the purity of the royal strain.25  The name Guanches given to the natives of Tenerife meant men, other historians relate it as meaning dogs.  These Guanches from Tenerife made pilgrimages to the burial locations where their ancestors were buried.  They trekked towards the peak called Teyde where the devil had its lair.  The devil appeared to them in their sacrifices in the form of a large wooly dog.26  Professor Hooton did not mention if these sacrifices were of man or animal.  In 1377, some Spaniards were ship wrecked on the shores of Lanzarote Island.  One of the survivors named Don Martine Ruiz de Avedano was lodged in the home of Qonzamas who was the King.  It did not take the Spaniard long before he became intimate with the Fayna, the King’s wife.  The result was a daughter born to Fayna named YeoYeo’s complexion was very fair when compared with the native population.  Yeo eventually married a member of the royal family.  Qonzamas and his unfaithful wife Fayna were eventually carried as prisoners to Spain.  The natives became suspicious as Yeo’s fair complexion and concluded she was the daughter of a stranger and not of King QonzamasYeo’s son named Guadarfia could not become King.  Yeo was put through a severe and dangerous test to prove her royal strain.  She was put in a smoky house with other women all night.  Yeo was secretly assisted by an old woman who provided her with wet sponges to help her breathing.  When morning came Yeo was found to be alive while the others were not.  It was King Guadarfia who met the conqueror Jean de Bethencourt when he arrived at Lanzarote in 1402.27  Yeo was most fortunate to have escaped with her life, through the able assistance of the old woman.  Nobility was inherited through the male blood line, the kinship was inherited through the female blood line.28

            One of the high ranking officials from Tenerife named Bencano had three daughters, one named Dacil was blond with rosy skin and green eyes.  Dacil’s sister Rosalia (Spanish name) was also blond.  There was another daughter named Guacimara who was described as a gigantic woman with red hair, black eyes, and dark and ruddy complexioned.29 

            Bencano, the father of these girls was himself of darker complexion, the mother was not described.  Professor Hooton while on his expedition to these Islands in 1915 observed the people of Tenerife had light brown hair and light brown eyes, some children had yellow hair and blue eyes.  Another historian Professor Rene Veneay of Hooton’s era likewise observed the same.30 

            No explanation can be offered as to why some of the ancient ones had different complexions such as fair skinned, blonds and red haired people. 

            The Spaniards and French had been in the Canary Islands for hundred of years, after the French left the Islands the Spaniard remained, but there were also Germans, Italians and other foreigners.  There is no doubt that the Spaniards mixed with the native women and their children became the mestizos of various colors, such as the case with Yeo.  Professor Hooton trekked across the various islands (he probably used a donkey for transportation) investigating numerous caves looking for bones and he found them too!  His volume seven of African studies contains numerous photographs of his findings.  He relates that a native found a skull in a cave which he took home as a souvenir for his wife, but the woman clearly unhappy would have none of it.  The woman ordered her husband to take it back where he had found it.  The husband probably meekly obeyed his wife and took it to where it rightfully belonged. 

            Those settlers involved in the colonization of these islands were Castilians, Portuguese and Italians.31  During the conquest of 1402, the majority of the names were those of the French, but beginning in 1478 or earlier the names of the Spaniards were in the majority, with a sprinkling of other foreigners. 

            It remained for the Spanish to properly colonize the Islands.  The Spaniards also brought the Catholic religion and their own names which the descendants still use to the present day.  The old Canarians spoke Spanish and were much oriented toward the Spanish world, particularly those natives residing in Tenerife.32 

            Toward the end of the sixteenth century the Island of Lanzarote was inhabited mostly by Moors, called (Moriscos by the Spaniards), these Moors were not well received by the Spaniards; these Spaniards were an intolerable people.  The Moriscos were so persecuted by the merciless Spaniards that those residing in Gran Canaria in 1498 sought royal protection.  Moriscos immigration to the islands had reached such proportions that in 1501, the monarch in Spain ordered governor Lopes Sanches de Valensula (Diego Cabrera’s old enemy) to admit no more Moors to the Island of Gran Canaria, but to keep those who were captives (slaves).33

            The Spaniards seemed to have possessed a strong desire to capture and enslave the Moors, these poor people must have suffered terribly, though most come from Spain.34  Land grants were issued in Tenerife to Spanish Conquistadors who as may be expected acquired the best lands.35  These conquistadors were the first to claim the spoils after the conquest.  Native Canarians were much less well treated than immigrant European and received lands in the worse possible locations.36  The largest land owner in the islands was the Governor Alonso de Lugo, his family and some favored friends.  Water was always in short supply in the Canary Islands.  Lanzarote Fuerteventura, Tenerife, and South of Gran Canaria were always arid.  The lack of rainfall limited the growth of the colonies and also their crops.37 

            As a result of water shortages serious disputes arose among the settlers, the poor Canarians who had the worse lands probably suffered much more than the Europeans settlers, which of course always had the best of whatever the Islands offered. 

            Baptismal registers and other church records are archived in the Cathedral of La Palma, some of these records date to 1498.38 

            Numerous Spanish citizens in order to escape intolerable conditions in Spain fled to the Indies, these citizens were Jews who were persecuted in main land Spain.39

In Spain those persons of Jewish descent always seemed to have been under the evil eye of the inquisition.  The fleeing Jews did not fare any better in the Indies including the Canary Islands.

            The islands and the terrain mentioned in this narrative (notes 1-39) reveal lands which appear dismal and somewhat desolate.  But the islands were inhabited, by primitives Canarians and Christian Europeans.  The Canarians could not escape from these islands.  The only way they could leave was as a prisoner of the Spaniards.  They had absolutely no chances of returning to the Islands of their birth. 

            The author curious by nature had expected the original natives (called Canarians by the Spaniards) to have been all of dark complexion, resembling the infidel Moors who ruled Spain many centuries ago, but was rudely awakened by studying Professor Hooton’s historical volume noted earlier and the Reverend Fathers LeVerrier and Bontier and their description of the natives.  The curious creature almost always ends up getting into trouble by delving into the unexpected.  Therefore, I will leave anthropology to Professor Hooton and others, and I will return to the Canary Islands of more modern times. 


1  Felipe Fernandez Armesto, The Canary Islands after the Conquest, The Making of a Colonial Society in

the early sixteenth century.  P 1.

2  Ibid, p 1.

3  The Canarian Conquest and Conversions of the Canarians in 1402, by Jean de Bethencourt, K.T.

composed by Father Pierre Bontier and Jean Le Verrier.  Jean de Bethencourt was a Norman Knight Lord

of Grainville La Feinturiers in the Paiz of Causix in Normandy.  The father’s journals were translated by

Richard Henry Major FSA etc., London, printed for the Hakluyt Society.  Before Bethencourt arrived two

French adventurers and a Spaniard named Alvaro Becerra had made several incursions to the islands. 

Based on the information left by the adventurers, which Bethencourt received in Normandy.  He

undertook the actual conquest the incursions likely took place in the late 1300’s. 

4  Ibid, VI.

5  Ibid, XIV.

6  Ibid, XII, XIII.

7  Ibid, XVIII.

8  Ibid, XIX.

9  Ibid, XXXIII.

10  Ibid, XLI.

11  Ibid, p 128, 129.

12  Ibid, p 131.

13  Ibid, p 133-135.

14  Ibid, p 137, 138, 139.

15  Ibid, p 147, 148.

16  Ibid, p. 189.

17  Ibid, p 203, 204, 205.

18  Ibid, p. 218, 219, 220.

19  Ernest A. Hooton Ph.D., B. Litt, and Natacia I. Bates in The Ancient Inhabitants of the Canary

Islands, Harvard African Studies, Vol 7, p.3.

20  See America on line under Tras Los Pasos de Los Guanches

21  Ernest A. Hooton Ph.D., B. Litt, and Natacia I. Bates in The Ancient Inhabitants of the Canary

Islands, Harvard African Studies, Vol 7, p.3.

22  Ibid, p 13.

23  Ibid, p 20.

24  Ibid, p 20, 21.

25  Ibid, p 22.

26  Ibid, p 55.

27  Ibid, p 71.

28  Ibid, p 71.

29  Ibid, p 74.

30  Ibid, p 74 – 75.

31  Felipe Fernandez Armesto, The Canary Islands after the Conquest, the making of a colonial society in

the early sixteenth century.

32  Ibid, p 5.

33  Ibid, p 36.

34  Ibid, p 37.

35  Ibid, p 52.

36  Ibid, p 66.

37  Ibid, p 93.

38  Ibid, p 66.

39  Leslie Bethell, Colonial Spanish America, p 52.



            The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation submitted a letter on Sept. 13, 2006 requesting that the Alvin ISD School Board name a school after the late esteemed and highly respected educator Dr. Margaret Swett Henson.  She was born Jan. 3, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois and passed away on Jan. 22, 2001.  She received her doctorate in 1974 from the University of Houston.  Dr. Henson taught at HISD Cullen Junior High, the Houston Community College and the University of Houston at Clear Lake until 1985.  She was appointed to the Harris County Historical Commission in 1976 and was President of the Texas State Historical Association from 1997-1998.  She wrote several books one of which was Samuel May Williams Early Texas Entrepreneur (1976) which won the Sons of the Republic of TX Summerfield G. Roberts Award and Lorenzo de Zavala The Pragmatic Idealist, published by T.C.U. Press which she dedicated to the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation.  She co-wrote A Pictorial History of Chambers County (1986) with Kevin Ladd and was awarded the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award in 1988.  She also wrote The History of Baytown (1988) as well as The Cartwrights of San Augustine (1993).  She served as an advisory editor and contributed 42 articles for the Texas State Historical Association’s 6th volume, The New Handbook of Texas, published in 1996.  She was a charter member of the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation and as a charter member prepared the text for an official Texas State Historical Subject Marker for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Houston, TX in 1991.  She reviewed, submitted the historical data and obtained the marker in record time.  She was also a contributing member of the Southern Historical Association and the East Texas Historical Association.  Letters requesting that an HISD school be named after Dr. Margaret Henson have also been submitted to the HISD School Board in Oct. of 2001 and May 11, 2005. 

                A request dated Sept. 18, 2006 to consider naming a park or county building after the late Civil Rights Attorney and former U.S. District Judge, James de Anda was submitted to Honorable County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, Precinct 2.  James de Anda was born Aug. 28, 1925 in Houston, TX and died Sept. 7, 2006 in Traverse City, Michigan.  He was a member of the legal team (Gustavo C. Garcia, Carlos Cadena, John J. Herrera, and Chris Alderete) that worked on the Hernandez v. Texas case.  As a result of this case, the Supreme Court ruled on appeal that Mexican Americans were a separate group in the United States and had equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The ruling also ensured that all racial groups had protection under the 14th Amendment and represented another step forward in the Civil rights movement.

            James de Anda graduated from Texas A&M in 1948 (after having served in the Marines during WWII) and later received his law degree from the Univ. of TX in 1950.  He would help organize the TX Rural Legal Assistance Organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and was appointed to the Federal Bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. 

            TAHP feels that by naming a park or a Harris County building after this important civil rights leader would ensure his legacy and teach others about the role he played in obtaining Mexican Americans’ protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


For input regarding the T.A.H.P. newsletters please send an email to Loretta Martinez Williams latejana_at_houston.rr.com.


Replace the _at_ with the @ symbol.  This is done to prevent spammers from using the email address.

The annual dues of $25.00 and donations make the projects a reality of the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation.  Please contact Linda Alonzo Saenz at 713-540-5449 if you would like to purchase an ad for the Cesar E. Chavez parade brochure.  Tejano Association for Historical Preservation Board members and advisors thank you for your support.

Loretta Martinez Williams, President

Richard Perez, 1st Vice President

Margarito C. Vasquez, 2nd Vice President

Linda Alonzo Saenz, Special Projects and Past President

Dr. Emilio Sarabia, Advisory Board Member

Benny C. Martinez, Advisory Board Member

Mr. Joe Granados, Advisory Board Member

Mr. Joel Lara, Advisory Board Member


A recent meeting was held on Nov. 4, 2006 of the San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board followed by a meeting of the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground at the Monument Inn.  The proposed location of a Visitors Center with funding provided primarily from the TX Dept. of Transportation was discussed as well as plans to restore the Battleship Texas.  In 1998 a master plan was developed by the San Jacinto Museum with funding by Houston Endowment and approved by TX Parks and Wildlife.  Groups such as the DRT, SRT, Rotary Club, San Jacinto Descendants and Chamber of Commerce provided input and public hearings were held to determine a general consensus in regard to the master plan of the San Jacinto Battleground.  After much review it was decided that the Visitor’s Center would be built on the now Juan N. Seguin Blvd. as you enter the park.  Preservation leaders Randy Billingsley, Charlie Yates, Denton Bryant and Mrs. Jan DeVault worked tirelessly to promote the master plan after it was approved.

            The Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground stand opposed to the proposed location of a Visitors Center which would encroach the Sam Houston Texan camp and be adjacent to the San Jacinto Cemetery and the Lorenzo de Zavala Cemetery.  The result of the meeting was plans to build a Visitor’s Center cannot go forward until an archaeological study is conducted and the results reviewed to ensure that the proposed site will not be built over an archaeological site nor a burial ground.  The approval to proceed would then have to be issued by the TX Historical Commission.  For more information visit the website of The Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground http://www.friendsofsanjacinto.com/cms/


            The following letter was sent out with the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation Board approval in regards to the proposed Visitor’s Center.  10/22/02006


Tejano Association for Historical Preservation

P.O. Box 231021

Houston, Texas 77223-1021


Mr. Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, Texas Parks & Wildlife

Mr. Stephen Whiston

Mr. Walt Dabney

Texas Parks & Wildlife

4200 Smith School Road

Austin, Texas 78744





Dear Sirs:

The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation is a non profit organization that was formed in 1989 with the primary purpose of identifying and preserving buildings and sites that have historical and or archaeological significance to the Hispanic, early Texas, French and native/indigenous cultures. 

Tejano Association for Historical Preservation opposes the proposed site of the Visitors Center on the San Jacinto Battleground and requests that a feasibility study be conducted to move the Battleship TEXAS to a location north of its present berth.  It is our understanding that your proposed location for the Visitor Center encroaches on the Texan camp and the San Jacinto cemetery.  By building where you propose, you may be forever damaging the historic integrity of the battleground, a national as well as state landmark.   This new Visitor Center site should also be analyzed in the study to determine if it would be established in an agreeable and customer friendly location and is it appropriate and agreeable to the master plan adopted by Texas Parks & Wildlife in 1998.  The following questions need to be answered:

  • What is the size of the market (visitors) and cost to implement and maintain?
  • Is this project viable and what will be the major risks?
  • What aspect of the current gift shop does not meet current marketing needs?

Ask for input from the various groups that hold an interest in the San Jacinto Historic Site.  Conducting a feasibility study will help avoid errors and save loss of time and money.   

Please let us know what direction you will take and I hope that our letter will make a difference.  The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation members and board opposes the proposed site and we await your response.


            Loretta Martinez Williams, President

Tejano Association for Historical Preservation

A special thank you is extended to Mr. Reynaldo L. Herrera, Pharmacist for providing this Houston Post article from May 1, 1966 regarding the gravesite of Lorenzo de Zavala.

            It was in April of 1966 that the Houston Post ran an article about the Lorenzo de Zavala and other patriots graves buried across the ship channel from the San Jacinto Battleground.  132 students from Ms. Gwin’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel 8th grade class wrote of their convictions of saving the cemetery.  Ms. Gwin chose to send in 51 eighth grade students’ letters who wrote the Houston Post asking for intervention to save the graves of Lorenzo de Zavala and Texas Patriots by moving them across the channel to the San Jacinto Battleground where the public could pay its respect.  The Houston Post ran these letters on May 1, 1966 in Section 3 entitled, “An Open letter of Thanks to Junior Citizens.”

            One young student, Suzanne Wagner, wrote, “If our own state can’t move the graves of some men who helped make our country what it is today, the graveyard is not the only thing that will be in deep water...”  Carl Hubbell wrote, “The bodies may as well have been buried in a sewer line.”  Another student, Sharon Boehm wrote: “I am not a criticizer of our citizens of Texas, but I think we should respect our elders even if dead…”  Finally, Diane Gregory wrote, “Every day we see ordinary people in beautiful cemeteries, but for heroes a water covered lot.”


"My name stands first in the Constitution of Mexico---And today I am a colonist of the Province of Texas."---Lorenzo de Zavala, Signer of the TX Declaration of Independence and Vice President Of the Republic of TX 1836