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GARZA'S CROSSING, TX

GARZA'S CROSSING, TEXAS. Garza’s Crossing, also known at times as Garzas and Paso de las Garzas, is at the intersection of Old Somerset Road and the Medina River in southwest Bexar County. The original ranchers in the area were Ignacio Pérez, Ángel Navarro, Juan Manuel Ruiz, Francisco Ricardo Hernandez, Bernardino Ruiz de Castañeda, and Jose Maria Bacerra. The town was named for Miguel de la Garza, a rancher and ferryman active in the area in the 1850s.

Garza’s Crossing was first used by the Alarcón Expedition on April 21, 1718, after which it became the location of the Medina River crossing on the Lower Laredo Road. During the Battle of the Medina in 1813, Garza’s Crossing was one of five known river crossings used by either republican or royalist forces.

The first settler of the area was Blas María Herrera. In 1828 Herrera married Maria Antonia Ruiz, the daughter of Col. José Francisco Ruiz and granddaughter of Juan Manuel Ruiz. Shortly thereafter, Blas and Maria Antonia Herrera moved to Garza’s Crossing and established the Ruiz-Herrera Ranch. The community was called “Medina” or “Rancho Blas Herrera” in early records.

In 1835 Garza’s Crossing was one of several campsites utilized by the Mexican Army during its approach to San Antonio before the Battle of the Alamo. Many Garza’s Crossing residents supported the Texas Revolution and nearly all of the area ranching families, Navarro, Ruiz, Herrera, Hernandez, Ruiz de Castañeda, and Bacerra served in the Texan Army. In 1836 Senator Francisco Ruiz wrote his infamous “Letter from Columbia” to his son-in-law Blas Herrera at Garza’s Crossing. Ruiz encouraged Herrera to continue his support of the Anglo-led uprising and wrote his infamous statement “Texas shall remain...forever free.”

Following Texas Independence, the Ruiz-Herrera Ranch formed into a small community mostly made up of related members of the Ruiz, Herrera, Guzman, Hernandez, and de la Garza families. The community built a Catholic church which was visited as early as 1842 by Bishop Jean Marie Odin of Galveston. In 1850 Miguel de la Garza established a ferry across the Medina River to service the newly-established stagecoach line between San Antonio and Laredo and the supply trains of the newly-arrived United States Army on the Comanche frontier. Miguel de la Garza had married Maria Jacoba Herrera, daughter of Blas Herrera, and moved to the Ruiz-Herrera Ranch. At this time the area became known as “Paso de las Garzas” and “Garza’s Crossing.”

In 1861 San Antonio merchant Enoch Jones moved to Garza’s Crossing and retired to his “Castle on the Medina,” a large limestone Pennsylvania-style home overlooking the south bank of the Medina River. The house was reported to be the first in Texas to have indoor plumbing.

Dr. Theodore Heermann of Garza’s Crossing organized the Thirtieth Texas Militia, also known as the Medina Guards, in 1862, half of whom were men from Garza’s Crossing. The Medina Guards were recruited as a cavalry company but were soon converted to an infantry company. Subsequently, half of the men transferred to Charles Pyron’s Company of the Second Texas Calvary, CSA. The Medina Guards served the majority of the war patrolling the Balcones Escarpment and providing a shield for San Antonio against the Comanches. Pyron’s Company was active in the New Mexico Campaign and participated at the battles of Valverde and Glorieta Pass. After the New Mexico Campaign, they were transferred to Laredo under Col. Santos Benavides and protected Confederate cotton shipments along the Laredo Road from San Antonio to Laredo.

Santisima Trinidad Catholic Church was built at Garza’s Crossing in 1866 to replace the 1842 church. The old church site became the Ruiz-Herrera Cemetery which is still in use and is the burial site of both Blas Maria Herrera and Francisco Antonio Ruiz, mayor of San Antonio during the Battle of the Alamo.

In 1872 Bexar County lawman and folk painter William G. M. Samuel opened a post office which operated until 1880. Also in 1872, Blas Herrera, Jr., received permission from the Bexar County Commissioners to re-establish the ferry at Garza’s Crossing.

In 1881 the International-Great Northern Railroad constructed the first rail line connecting San Antonio and Laredo. The rail bridge across the Medina was built one mile west of the ferry at Garza’s Crossing. Quickly a new community sprang up around the train depot that was built on the south bank of the Medina and called “Medina Crossing” by the IGNR. The early settlers of Medina Crossing were almost entirely from Garza’s Crossing. Within a few years the focus of the community shifted west to Medina Crossing, which was renamed Von Ormy in 1886. Rail access also changed the local economy from cattle ranching to cotton and winter vegetable farming. In 1919 a hurricane destroyed the Santisima Trinidad Catholic Church, and it was rebuilt at Von Ormy in 1930. In 2008 Von Ormy incorporated into a city which includes parts of Old Garza’s Crossing. (See also VON ORMY, TEXAS.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Blas Herrera Papers, Special Collection, Bexar County Archives, San Antonio. A. Martinez de Vara, Records of Santisima Trinidad Church at Paso de las Garzas (Von Ormy, Texas: Santa Helena Publishing, 2009). A. Joachim McGraw and Kay Hindes, Chipped Stone and Adobe: A Cultural Resources Assessment of the Proposed Applewhite Reservoir, Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio: Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1987). Vertical File, Special Collection, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio (Enoch Jones).

Art Martinez de Vara

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Art Martinez de Vara, "GARZA'S CROSSING, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrgjz), accessed December 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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