Garza Falcón, José Antonio de la (1739–1797)

By: Clotilde P. García

Type: Biography

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

José Antonio de la Garza Falcón, soldier and public official, was born in 1739 in Cerralvo, Nuevo León, Mexico, the son of Capt. Blas María de la Garza Falcón and Catarina Gómez de Castro. He received his education in Cerralvo and Camargo, joined the Spanish presidial company of Camargo, and later became a lieutenant in the Cavalry Militia of Province and Frontier stationed at Camargo. In 1766 rumors that the English were preparing to establish themselves on the lower Texas coast led to several requests that Garza Falcón investigate the scene. In the summer of 1776, responding to a request from José de Escandón, who himself was acting at the behest of the viceroy, the Marqués de Cruillas, Garza Falcón explored the coast from the Rio Grande to Corpus Christi Bay. Later that year he was ordered to explore Padre Island by Diego Ortiz Parrilla, who had been instructed to investigate the islands off the lower Texas coast. Garza Falcón may have complied, or he may simply have given Ortiz Parrilla a report, dated September 1766, that was based on his exploration several months earlier. One historian believes that the latter case is more likely, because high water from a hurricane earlier in September would have prevented him and his group from crossing over to the island. In addition, Garza's description of the island makes no mention of the effects of the storm. The name Corpus Christi Bay was apparently bestowed by either Garza Falcón or by his father, who owned the nearby Santa Petronila Ranch. After his father died in 1767, Garza Falcón became captain and chief justice of Camargo and its jurisdiction, which extended to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and to the Nueces River in Texas. He was appointed in 1767 to assign Spanish land grants north and south of the Rio Grande to 111 settlers from Camargo. He married Leonor Mendez, daughter of Bartolomé Mendez and Francisca Gonzales, on April 12, 1773, in Camargo. Two daughters were born to them, one of whom, Guadalupe, married alcalde and lieutenant Blas de la Garza (1772–1820) at Matamoros. After his death, she married Lt. Felipe Roque de la Portilla. Garza Falcón died in Camargo in 1797 and was buried in the private family chapel, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Dan Kilgore, Nueces County, Texas, 1750–1800: A Bicentennial Memoir (Corpus Christi: Friends of the Corpus Christi Museum, 1975). Eliseo Manzano Paredes, Homenaje a los fundadores de la heróica, leal e invicta Matamoros en el sesquicentenario de su nuevo nombre (Matamoros: Ayuntamiento de Matamoros, 1976). Hubert J. Miller, José de Escandón, Colonizer of Nuevo Santander (Edinburg, Texas: Nuevo Santander Press, 1980). William H. Oberste, Texas Irish Empresarios and Their Colonies (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1953; 2d ed. 1973). Florence J. Scott, Historical Heritage of the Lower Rio Grande (San Antonio: Naylor, 1937; rev. ed., Waco: Texian, 1966; rpt., Rio Grande City, Texas: La Retama Press, 1970).

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Spanish)
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

Clotilde P. García, “Garza Falcón, José Antonio de la,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: