Garcitas Creek

By: Craig H. Roell

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: October 30, 2019

Garcitas Creek rises a mile northwest of the Victoria county line in extreme southeastern DeWitt County (at 29°03' N, 97°05' W) and flows southeast for forty-eight miles to its mouth on Garcitas Cove, off Lavaca Bay (at 28°43' N, 96°40' W). It forms a major drainage system in Victoria County and constitutes the Victoria-Jackson county line in its last twelve miles. It runs through nearly level to gently sloping terrain surfaced primarily by deep, fine sandy loam and dark clays that support a rich range and cropland. Major tributaries include Arenosa, Marcado, Casa Blanca, and Willow creeks. The name Garcitas, supplied by Mexicans after the beginning of Martín De León's colony, is a changed form of the Spanish word garcetas, meaning "tenderlings," the first antlers of a deer, probably a reference to the shape of some of the creek's projections. Garcitas Creek is probably the stream on which René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, established Fort St. Louis in 1685. If the site of the fort was on this stream, it is what La Salle called the River of the Buffalo and the Spanish called the Río de los Franceses, or River of the French. The Aguayo expedition founded Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission (La Bahía) and Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio on the creek in 1722, supposedly on the ruins of Fort St. Louis. The mission and presidio remained there until they were removed to the Guadalupe River in 1726. In the 1820s many of Martín De León's colonists settled on Garcitas Creek, which ran through the original land grants of the empresario and his son Fernando De León. In March 1836, during the Texas Revolution, the creek afforded a hiding place from the Mexican army for John J. Linn's merchant vessel; he was thus enabled to use the boat later to evacuate Harrisburg and take supplies to Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto. During the Civil War Company A, Thirteenth Texas Cavalry, one of three Victoria County companies serving in the Confederate Army, was mustered on Garcitas Creek, on April 13, 1862, by Dr. James P. B. January, a veteran of the Texas Revolution and the Mexican War.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, "The Location of La Salle's Colony on the Gulf of Mexico," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 2 (September 1915); rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 27 (January 1924). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). John J. Linn, Reminiscences of Fifty Years in Texas (New York: Sadlier, 1883; 2d ed., Austin: Steck, 1935; rpt., Austin: State House, 1986). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966).

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

Craig H. Roell, “Garcitas Creek,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 30, 2019