De La Porta Brothers (unknown–unknown)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Moses (Morin) and his younger brother Jao (Joseph) De la Porta financed the first settlement by Europeans on Galveston Island in 1816. The brothers were born in Portugal of Jewish parentage and found their way to Texas by a circuitous route. At a young age they moved to Paris, where they received their schooling. They later sailed to Brazil, to the British West Indies, and to New Orleans. The brothers financed the privateering venture of Louis Michel Aury and José Manuel de Herrera to San Luis Island, later called Galveston, in 1816. Aury set up a privateering camp on September 12 and was named military and civil governor of Texas and Galveston Island. Jao may have served as Aury's secretary of state. In December, Gen. Francisco Xavier Mina arrived and persuaded Aury to join him in invading Mexico. They lost the battle, and Moses lost heavily in the enterprise. He left the island and died soon after. Jao took over his brother's interests. While Aury was away, privateer Jean Laffite sailed down the Texas coast and set up camp in Matagorda Bay. Jao arrived at the camp and sold the De la Porta-Aury expedition's camp and supplies Laffite. The Laffite commune took possession of the island on May 15, 1817, forcing Aury to abandon the Galveston camp. On May 15, 1818, Laffite appointed Jao supercargo for the Karankawa Indian trade. When Laffite left Galveston Island in 1820, Jao became a full-time trader. Many years later, Jao moved to New Orleans permanently, where he described his experiences with the buccaneer camps and the Karankawas to Gershom Kursheedt, a resident of New Orleans in 1835.

Joseph O. Dyer, The Early History of Galveston (Galveston: Oscar Springer Print., 1916). Joseph Dyer, Epitome of Important Events in Early Texas History (Galveston Daily News, 1936). Galveston Historical Collection of Rosenberg Library (Galveston: Rosenberg Library, 1929). Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

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

Natalie Ornish, “De La Porta Brothers,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995