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Chapa, Frank L. (1897–1985)

Cynthia E. Orozco Biography

Frank L. Chapa, Mexican-American politician, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on September 23, 1897, to Adelaida (Rivas) and Col. Francisco A. Chapa. He was a descendent of María Granados de Betancourt. He married Blanche Laborde, and they had one child. Chapa attended St. Peter and St. Paul School in New Braunfels, San Antonio public schools, and St. Mary's College (now St. Mary's University). On August 5, 1917, he entered military service at Camp Stanley and later was commissioned second lieutenant in the Texas National Guard. He was then assigned to the Central Cavalry Officers Training Camp at Leon Springs, where he was first lieutenant. In 1935 he served as adjutant of the Fifty-sixth Cavalry Brigade of the Texas National Guard and in the 124th Cavalry Brigade.

Chapa worked in his father's business, F. A. Chapa's Drug Store, from the late teens through the 1960s, when the store was destroyed for urban renewal. He was appointed assistant state service officer in 1926 and served until 1928. Under Governor Ross S. Sterling he was brevetted colonel and represented Texas at the first aeronautical and industrial exposition in Mexico City. He was also on Governor James Allred's staff from 1935 to 1939. During World War II Chapa was chief intelligence officer for the Southern Defense Command and received numerous commendations, including the Medal of Merit from the Mexican Ministry of Defense. He was a member of the Military Order of the World Wars and a founding member of the Texas Cavaliers.

He was one of six Tejanos to be included in Texas Democracy, a history of the Democratic party published for the Texas Centennial in 1936. He was a member of the American Legion, a director of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 16 in the 1930s, and a member of the Granaderos de Galvez and Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. He died on February 2, 1985, and is buried in the San Fernando Archdiocesan Cemetery.

Frank Carter Adams, ed., Texas Democracy: A Centennial History of Politics and Personalities of the Democratic Party, 1836–1936 (4 vols., Austin: Democratic Historical Association, 1937).


  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Politics and Government

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

Cynthia E. Orozco, “Chapa, Frank L.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 29, 2020,

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