Garza, José Antonio de la (1776–ca. 1851)

By: Cynthia E. Orozco

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

José Antonio de la Garza, early landowner in San Antonio and the first person to coin money in Texas, was born on May 31, 1776, in San Antonio de Béxar, the son of Leonardo de la Garza and Magdalena Martínez. He married Josefa Rivas, and they had three children. On July 20, 1824, he married María Josefa Menchaca; they had four children, one of whom was Leonard Garza, a Williams College graduate, banker, and business owner in San Antonio in the 1890s. With permission of the Spanish governor, Garza became the first person to coin money in Texas. On one side of the coin were his initials, "JAG," and the date 1818; on the other side was a single star. One writer speculates that this may have inspired the "lone star," which later became a Texas symbol (see FLAGS OF TEXAS). The small coins were worth the equivalent of a nickel, and Garza minted them at a building on Houston and Soledad streets for about a year and a half. In 1824 he received Mexican title to two leagues of land and became one of the largest landowners in Bexar County. His extensive ranchlands lay near the San Antonio and Medina rivers. He was one of the Bexar officials to sign the articles resulting from the Convention of 1832. He purchased San Francisco de la Espada Mission, probably in early 1834, a transaction that apparently angered some residents, who considered the sale illegal. Some Texans thought that Garza was sympathetic to the Mexican cause during the Texas Revolution. In the 1840s he moved into a house built in 1801 near Calaveras Lake in southeast Bexar County. The house, a two-story structure, served as a church, school, and community center. Garza was probably the man reported by the Texas State Gazette (see AUSTIN STATE GAZETTE) to have died in San Antonio on May 5, 1851. In 1876 Garza County was named after the Garza family, which had been in San Antonio for two centuries.

Adán Benavides, Jr., comp. and ed., The Béxar Archives, 1717–1836: A Name Guide (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989). Files, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio. Jack Jackson, Los Mesteños: Spanish Ranching in Texas, 1721–1821 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). José María Rodríguez, Rodríguez's Memoirs of Early Texas (San Antonio, 1913; 2d ed. 1961).

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

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

Cynthia E. Orozco, “Garza, José Antonio de la,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

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