Navarro, José Eugenio (1803–1838)

By: Camilla Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1995

Updated: August 3, 2020

José Eugenio Navarro, Texas patriot and prominent citizen of early San Antonio, the youngest of four sons of María Josefa (Ruiz) and Ángel Navarro, was born in 1803 in San Antonio de Béxar. In his twenties he served as alferez, or second lieutenant, in the presidial militia under the command of his uncle, Lt. Col. José Francisco Ruiz. He was often sent to procure funds for the troops; once he wrote from Matamoros about the difficulty of obtaining money from the customhouse. Before long he was managing and doing most of the traveling for the family store. His brother José Ángel Navarro specified in his will that "repayment should be made for cash and groceries taken from the store of [my] brother Eugenio." In San Luis Potosí in early January 1836 Navarro learned that Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna had arrived in Saltillo with 3,000 soldiers and planned to add 1,600 more on his way to wage war in Texas. Navarro dispatched a messenger on a fast horse to Bexar with the news. In Bexar the Texas volunteers who had remained after driving Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos back across the Rio Grande were busy improving the fortifications at the age-worn Alamo. Navarro, on his return, took them jousts and walnut scantlings to make platforms for the cannons. After the fall of the Alamo, many Bexar Tejano families, though supporters of Texas independence, moved to east Texas and Louisiana to avoid the Anglo hostility that was rife after the war. Eugenio and Antonio were in Columbus in April 1836. They returned before the death of their brother José Ángel on June 13, 1836, and the two were named executors of Ángel's estate. At the request of the widow, Eugenio became guardian of the children. A few months later, on September 19, Bexar was incorporated as a city, henceforth to be known as San Antonio. The new aldermen appointed Eugenio Navarro city treasurer. Little more than a year later he died at the hands of a gunman, whom he stabbed to death after being shot. The event took place at his store. Though some early historians stated that José Ángel was the victim, the burial records of San Fernando Cathedral state that on May 7, 1838, Eugenio Navarro, "single, Spanish, was killed by a pagan man from the colony of Texas." The twenty-five volumes inventoried in his estate included Oliver Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, books on Napoleon, mathematics, geography, an elementary astrology, a digest of legislation, an English grammar, and several dictionaries.

Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). Albert Curtis, Remember the Alamo Heroes (San Antonio: Clegg, 1961). Joseph M. Dawson, José Antonio Navarro, Co-Creator of Texas (Waco: Baylor University Press, 1964). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973).

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

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

Camilla Campbell, “Navarro, José Eugenio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995
August 3, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: