Moya, Juan (ca. 1806–1874)

By: Gloria Candelaria Marsh

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: June 25, 2016

Juan Moya, also known as Juan Delgado and Juan Moya y Delgado, was born in La Bahía (Goliad), Texas, around 1806, the son of José Miguel Delgado. In Spanish Texas as early as 1795 his father petitioned for and received land from the government in the San Patricio County area, where the family lived on Delgado's Rancho San Miguel de Buena Virtud. They later moved and named their land Rancho de Buena Vista, also in San Patricio County. On November 26, 1831, although the family had lived on this land since the early 1800s, the McMullen-McGloin colony issued four leagues of land in San Patricio County to Miguel Delgado and his three sons, Juan, Nepomuceno, and Pedro. Juan lived with his family at the Rancho de Buena Vista and is shown in the La Bahía census records for 1810–12. In the 1825 census he is listed as nineteen, head of house, and a shoemaker, living with his wife, María Antonia (Martínez), sixteen, and their son, Agustín, one year old. Moya was granted 1¼ leagues of land in Bee County under the Power and Hewetson colony on November 30, 1834. Agustín was granted a quarter league adjoining his father's land on November 30, 1834. In Goliad County, directly across from Juan Moya's property in Bee County, a league of land was awarded to Juan Delgado, presumably the same person as Juan Moya, though no records at the General Land Office substantiate the identification. The family's main ranchhouse and large hacienda, known as the Moya Rancho, was located in Bee County and later known as the John Quincy Ranch. It was subsequently purchased by J. M. O'Brien. The Moya family cemetery is in Goliad County near Berclair, on the Juan Delgado land.

During the Texas Revolution Capitán Moya fought for the Mexican Centralists in the Mexican army. Moya Rancho was headquarters of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos, the brother-in-law of Antonio López de Santa Anna, and was also used as a campsite by Gen. Vicente Filisola on his retreat to Mexico. Moya used guerrilla tactics and was chased considerably by Philip Dimmitt. About 1846 he and his wife moved to Victoria County, where they lived with their seven children. They returned to Bee and Goliad counties during the turmoil and conflict over land titles after the Texas Revolution. Caucasians had a great deal of animosity against Mexicans, and consequently against Tejanos. The Moyas made several trips for safety to nearby Mexican border towns but always returned to their native place. Moya's attorney, Pryor Lea, represented the family, which continued to live in the homestead area and grow despite the hostility of neighbors.

Moya and his sons Antonio and Marcelo were lynched after being jailed in Goliad County on June 8, 1874, by a mob that suspected them of butchering the Swift family nearby. Moya Rancho was divided-Pryor Lea received half of the estate, and the family received the other half. The family later lost much of the land in court battles. Moya's descendents, however, remain in Goliad, Bee, Victoria, and surrounding counties. In 1974 the family organized the Moya Association of Texas, with about 2,000 members from seven states. The association holds regularly scheduled meetings commemorating the family's ancestors-descendants of the Canary Islanders and the first Texas colonists and cattle ranchers-for their contributions to Texas. The family was issued an official memorandum by Governor William P. Clements on September 10, 1982, for its accomplishments in preserving the Texas cultural heritage.

Robert Bruce Blake Research Collection, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin; Houston Public Library, Houston. J. Frank Dobie, ed., A Vaquero of the Brush Country (Dallas: Southwest, 1929; new ed., Boston: Little, Brown, 1943). Hobart Huson, Captain Philip Dimmitt's Commandancy of Goliad, 1835–1836 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1974). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Abel Rubio, Stolen Heritage: A Mexican-American's Rediscovery of His Family's Lost Land Grant (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Victims of Mob Violence and Police Brutality
  • Peoples
  • Canary Islanders
  • Business
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Military
  • Soldiers
  • Mexican Americans
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

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

Gloria Candelaria Marsh, “Moya, Juan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

May 1, 1995
June 25, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: