Ignacio (also spelled Ygnacio) Francisco Xavier Calvillo, early Spanish Texas rancher and alcalde of San Fernando de Béxar, was born in 1731 in the villa of Aguascalientes in Mexico. He was the son of José Calvillo and Lagarda (?) López de Saraz. His journey to the villa of San Fernando de Béxar is not documented, but he made his way to the area as evidenced by his marriage to Doña María Antonia de Arocha, who came from an important Béxar ranching and Canary Islander family. San Fernando Church records indicate that they married there in November 1760. Ignacio and María Antonia had five children together. These children include Francisco Antonio who died the year after his birth, María del Carmen, Juana, Francisca del Borja, and Francisco Antonio.
Ignacio Calvillo spent his life in the Béxar area as a rancher. His marriage into the Arocha family likely helped him start his ranching activities as an early document indicates that Calvillo had some cattle on his brother-in-law’s land. Calvillo then moved onto land that he leased and later owned which was a ranch known as El Paso de las Mujeres or Nuestra Señora de las Mujeres (near Rancho de las Cabras which was Mission San Francisco de la Espada’s ranch and is near present-day Floresville in Wilson County). A 1782 report of an earlier roundup (pertaining to 1781) noted that El Paso de los Mujeres had sixty livestock total, thirty of which were branded. This Calvillo ranching operation was smaller than the other ranches on the same list. Yet, Calvillo’s ranching efforts did not remain small-scale for long. As his ranching enterprises grew, he requested permission to drive cattle to another market in Coahuila with his brothers-in-law Juan and Manuel de Arocha. Such a request indicates Calvillo’s growing ranching operation and efforts to access markets for his cattle.
In addition to his role as a major rancher, Calvillo’s importance in the local community was marked by his public service on the cabildo. In a 1780 document, Calvillo was listed with the title procurador general indicating his membership as a cabildo member. He continued to serve, and in 1789 the cabildo elected Calvillo to the position of alcalde. He served one term as alcalde in 1789, and then due to a crisis in the local elections, he ended up serving through 1790.
While serving in office, Calvillo continued to focus on ranching. It is unclear exactly when he increased his land holdings to include much of Rancho de las Cabras, the former ranch of Mission San Francisco de la Espada, but one document indicates that he filed for the title in 1809. Calvillo had been ranching (probably leasing land from Mission Espada) in the locale if not on part of Las Cabras by the late 1780s. Another segment of Rancho de las Cabras was granted to Juan Barrera. As a rancher in the Béxar area, Calvillo appeared in documents requesting permission to round up cattle, drive cattle to other markets, and in documentation that recorded a dispute in which a man was accused of illegally slaughtering cattle with the brands of other citizens.
Calvillo’s life ended violently in 1814 in a raid by Lipan Apaches on Rancho de las Cabras. Spanish authorities conducted interviews and found an intimate connection between one raider and Calvillo. Witnesses noted that Calvillo’s grandson, Ignacio Casanova, was one of the attackers in the raid—thus suggesting a personal motive in the attack. As a result of the death of her father, the eldest surviving daughter, María Calvillo, inherited the large ranch which she owned into the 1840s.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Calvillo, Ignacio Francisco Xavier,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 16, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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