VALENT, ANTONIO (1884–1970). Antonio Valent, South Texas fishing industry pioneer, son of Antonio and Romana (Dominguez) Valent, was born at Point Isabel (now Port Isabel), Texas, on August 26, 1884. His father, a seaman and native of Andraxit, Mallorca, Spain, served in the Confederate Navy, participating in the battle of Mobile Bay, and was the first person to build a house in Point Isabel. The younger Antonio's brother, Pablo, served as captain of the Brazos Coast Guard station on South Padre Island and was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving all lives on the wrecked schooner Cape Horn in 1919. Young Antonio Valent began a fishing venture in 1902, limited to the Port Isabel-Brownsville area. From the beginning, his vision was to combine the fishing, packing, and shipping aspects into one business. With the arrival of the railroad in Brownsville in 1904, he began shipping to other parts of the state, and the first train to leave Brownsville carried several barrels of iced fish labeled Valent Fish Company. The business prospered steadily with fish houses in Port Isabel and Brownsville. Valent saw an opportunity for expansion when, as a result of the 1933 hurricane, the bay at Soto La Marina in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas was reopened. These rich fishing waters lay approximately 100 miles south of the Texas border. In 1934 he moved part of his enterprise into Mexico, having negotiated a special contract with the Mexican government. His fleet of fishing vessels now numbered forty, and his trucks delivered the catch from Mexico to his fish houses, where it was packed and sent by Valent truck to Texas cities including Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. From 1941 to 1949 Pablo Valent, having retired from the Coast Guard, joined the company, and it was known as Valent Brothers Fish Company. When Pablo retired and sold his share to his brother in 1949, the company reverted to its original name. In 1951 Valent sold the business to Pat Pace of Brownsville and retired. Antonio Valent was married to Sophia Lieck, daughter of German-born Brownsville rancher Robert Alexander Lieck, who was among those instrumental in bringing the railroad to Brownsville in 1904. They had three daughters and a son. Valent was a Catholic and a life-long Democrat. He spent his early years in Port Isabel, moved to Brownsville in the 1920s, and resided there until his death on March 7, 1970. He was buried in Buena Vista Cemetery in Brownsville.
Brownsville Herald, April 30, 1922, March 8, 1970. Valley By-Liners, Gift of the Rio (Mission, Texas: Border Kingdom Press, 1975).