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ORDER OF SONS OF AMERICA

ORDER OF SONS OF AMERICA. The Order of Sons of America (Orden Hijos de America), one of the first statewide Mexican-American civil-rights organizations in Texas, was founded by thirty-seven men on October 13, 1921, at the barbershop of Ramon H. Carvajal in San Antonio. The organizational meeting occurred on November 4, 1921, at Fest Hall; over 150 people gathered. The state charter was obtained on January 4, 1922. The organization's purpose was to use its "influence in all fields of social, economic, and political action in order to realize the greatest enjoyment possible of all the rights and privileges and prerogatives extended by the American Constitution." A 1922 constitution written in English and a 1927 constitution written in Spanish provided that the OSA would serve as a mutual aid society, prolabor organization, civic group, and political association. The OSA also adopted an elaborate ritual manual in 1922. The founders included John C. Solis, Francisco and Melchor Leyton, Santiago G. Tafolla, Sr., and others. Tafolla was made president and Feliciano G. Flores vice president. Membership was restricted to United States citizens of Mexican or Spanish extraction, native or naturalized, over the age of sixteen. The constitution provided for the organization of juvenile branches and ladies' auxiliaries, although none was organized. The San Antonio organization (Council 1) formed chapters in Somerset and Pearsall by 1923 and in Corpus Christi by 1924. The Corpus Christi chapter, in turn, organized a council in Kingsville around August 1927. There were also councils in Alice and Beeville. In 1923 the San Antonio chapter had 250 members, and Corpus Christi had over 175 in 1928. Outstanding members included Manuel C. Gonzales and Mauro Machado in San Antonio and Louis Wilmot, Bernardo F. Garza, and Andrés de Luna in Corpus Christi.

In San Antonio the OSA opened a downtown headquarters at 127 Main Street in 1925. The organization adopted "America" as its official hymn, Washington's Prayer, and the motto "For Our Country." Chapters in San Antonio and Corpus were active in civil-rights activities and civic affairs. In San Antonio in 1923–24 the OSA paid for the attorney for Juan Morales and Victor Fuentes, who were accused of murdering a Corpus Christi resident. In Corpus Christi the OSA fought for a new Mexican school, the Cheston L. Heath School, which was dedicated on September 13, 1925. In May 1926 the OSA helped desegregate the Palace Bath House; in early 1927 they got the first Mexican American on a jury in Nueces County; in September 1927 they helped to take down a "No Mexicans Allowed" sign from North Beach; they also helped a Mexican tenant family sue a white landlord and took a role in assisting two Mexican girls to attend a white school in Banquete.

Some OSA members disassociated themselves from Council 1 and formed other organizations. In 1922 Flores quit the San Antonio OSA and founded the Sons of Texas. In 1927 some younger members left Council 1 and founded the Knights of America, and in February 1929 the Corpus Christi chapter ended its association with the San Antonio council and joined the Latin American Citizens League of the Valley to found the League of United Latin American Citizens.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Julie Leininger Pycior, La Raza Organizes: Mexican American Life in San Antonio, 1915–1930, as Reflected in Mutualista Activities (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1979). John C. Solis, Interview by Angie de Cueto Quiros, ca. 1977, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. O. Douglas Weeks, "The League of United Latin-American Citizens," Southwestern Political and Social Science Quarterly 10 (December 1929).

Cynthia E. Orozco

Citation

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

Cynthia E. Orozco, "ORDER OF SONS OF AMERICA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/veotu), accessed October 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.