José Miguel de Arciniega, legislator, military explorer, and alcalde of San Antonio de Béxar, was born on September 20, 1793, in Coahuila, New Spain, to Gregorio and Josefa (Flores) Arciniega. His father was a soldier from San Carlos de Parras Presidio sent to reinforce San Antonio de Bexar in 1803 (see SECOND FLYING COMPANY OF SAN CARLOS). In November 1811, Arciniega received a tract of land in San Antonio along Alamo Street. In 1816 Arciniega was authorized to go to the United States border to check on possible illegal entry of Americans. In 1818 he and Vicente Gortari gave information secured at Nacogdoches, Texas, and Natchitoches, Louisiana, on foreigners at Galveston and on the Trinity River.
In 1826, when he was sent to learn the intentions of the Cherokee Indians, he met Richard Fields and leaders of the Comanche, Tahuallace, Tejas, and Caddo Indians at Laguna de Gallinas, near Nacogdoches. Arciniega was arrested in October 1826 by alcalde Juan José Zambrano for signing a document for María Josefa Seguín but was evidently exonerated, as in December he was appointed captain of the civil militia. By April of 1827 he and Ángel Navarro were elected commissioners, and the following month he and José Antonio Navarro were elected deputies to the state congress at Saltillo, where they managed to pass a law allowing slavery in Texas. In 1832 Arciniega returned from the United States border to advise Ramón Músquiz of the cholera epidemic in New Orleans. On February 27, 1833, he was reelected alcalde of Bexar, and in June he assumed the post of political chief because Músquiz was ill.
Arciniega had been appointed land commissioner for Stephen F. Austin's colonies in November 1830. In this position he signed a four-league grant for the town of Bastrop and with Samuel May Williams laid out the town in 1832. On September 22, 1835, Arciniega purchased 48,708 acres now in Hunt, Grayson, and Harrison counties. He was chosen interpreter for Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos in negotiations for the surrender of Bexar in December 1835. It is unclear whether he supported the Texas Revolution, as he was appointed Bexar delegate to the Convention of 1836 but did not attend. He had been appointed second judge of Bexar in 1835, and it was probably in that position that he corresponded with Thomas Jefferson Rusk in August 1836 concerning a cholera epidemic in Brazoria, treatment of Bexar residents, and the theft of cattle. In the cattle case he was ordered to assist the cavalry sent by Rusk to prevent the thefts and to protect anyone who had not opposed the Texans in the war. After 1836 his name appears only twice in the records. In 1840 he reported for tax purposes twenty town lots in San Antonio and three slaves. Arciniega married Maria Losova, daughter of Jose Seferino Losova and Teresa Rivas, on January 26, 1825, and they had eight children.
On February 26, 2015, Governor Greg Abbott officially recognized José Miguel de Arciniega and his contributions to Texas. On May 13, 2015, the Texas State Legislature passed House Resolution No. 2674, which recounted and commended the Aciniega family's contribution to the State of Texas. Two days later, the Texas Historical Commission unveiled a historical marker dedicated to Arciniega in front of the Arciniega House in a ceremony that included family, friends, and local dignitaries.