Castro, Cuelgas de (unknown–1842)

By: Thomas F. Schilz

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 19, 2020

Cuelgas de Castro, a Lipan Apache chief in Texas during the first half of the nineteenth century, was probably born in the 1790s; he was a leading Apache chief at the time Mexico won independence from Spain (1821). He inherited his rank from his father, Josef Castro, and, by several wives, fathered several children, including Juan Castro, who succeeded him. As a friend of the White settlers in Texas, Castro allied his people with the Austin colonists and the Republic of Texas in an effort to defend the Lipans from the Comanches. In 1812 he and other Lipans and members of other groups joined Samuel Kemper in attacking San Antonio during the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition. Kemper had succeeded the deceased Augustus William Magee as commander of pro-Hidalgo forces (see HIDALGO Y COSTILLA, MIGUEL) organized by José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara to establish an independent Texas republic; he encouraged Indian enlistments. Castro and his people returned home after the successful battle and took no part in Gen. Joaquín de Arredondo's subsequent defeat of the republican forces on the Medina River. The Apaches continued to support filibustering expeditions into Texas during the remaining years of Spanish rule. After the establishment of an independent Mexico, Castro and other Lipans visited Mexico City and signed a treaty of peace with the Mexican government. In this agreement the Lipans promised to keep the peace in Texas-a promise they did not honor. Mexican authorities promised trade in return but also failed to make good on their word. As a result the Lipans had no guns for fighting the Comanches. The arrival of settlers led by Stephen F. Austin, however, provided the Lipans with new trading partners and military allies.

During the Republic of Texas Castro enlisted in the Texas Rangers as a scout. In his first expedition he led a force under John H. Moore to attack a Comanche village. The White men ignored Castro's advice to run off the horses of the Comanches, who were therefore able to escape. In disgust, Castro and his men deserted Moore's force. From that time, Castro fought only with the ranger companies commanded by John Coffee Hays. In 1838 he signed a treaty of friendship and mutual aid between his people and the Republic of Texas. The Lipans supported the Somervell expedition against Mexico in 1842 and eagerly accepted the gifts the Texans provided them. Castro died in 1842, and his son Juan became chief. Juan Castro served as a leading spokesman for the Indians on the Brazos Indian Reservation in the 1850s. Rather than accept removal to Indian Territory in 1859, the Lipans fled to Mexico and joined the Kickapoos.

Roy D. Holt, Heap Many Texas Chiefs (San Antonio: Naylor, 1966). Adele B. Looscan, "Capt. Joseph Daniels," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 5 (July 1901). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers (4 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1959–61; rpt., 5 vols., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

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

Thomas F. Schilz, “Castro, Cuelgas de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 19, 2020