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Pastoriza, Joseph Jay (1857–1917)

Justin Davis Biography

Joseph Jay Pastoriza, printer, Houston tax commissioner, and mayor, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 8, 1857. He was the son of Joseph Pastoriza, and his parents were Spanish immigrants from Barcelona, Spain. In 1858 Pastoriza and his parents moved to Houston, Texas, where his parents died in a yellow fever epidemic. Afterwards, he was adopted by the family of lumberman Edward Daly. As a child Pastoriza attended Fitzgerald’s Academy in Houston. At the age of seventeen, he became an apprentice to an iron molder and at night worked at shorthand and did bookkeeping. In 1878 he became a business manager for the Houston-based newspaper The Age. In 1879 Pastoriza started an enterprise that would become the successful Pastoriza Printing and Lithographing Company. He advocated a shorter work day and the closing of businesses at 6 p.m.—a schedule that he implemented in his own company. Eventually many other stores in Houston followed suit. Joseph Pastoriza married Lula Girard of Waxahachie, Texas, on January 14, 1886. They had a son—Hugh.

Pastoriza’s business (along with various property investments) was so profitable that he, at the age of forty-eight, was able to retire in 1906 to focus on public service. He spent the next four years traveling across the United States and Europe. He studied many municipal governments during his journey and made plans for his coming life in the political arena. In Houston, Pastoriza served as the vice president of the Houston Manufactures Association and was a member of the Houston Single Tax League. Pastoriza, a Democrat, was elected tax commissioner of Houston in 1911 and was reelected in 1913 and 1915. He was a proponent of the economic philosophy of social reformer Henry George and supported a property tax that was assessed based on land value. As tax commissioner, Pastoriza helped create and chaired the Houston Committee on Taxation. From this position he helped implement the single tax (with stiff opposition) in Houston, which became popular in the city and soon spread to other cities across the state.

When Mayor Ben Campbell declined to run for a third term in 1917, Pastoriza decided to run for mayor. In the mayoral election of 1917, Pastoriza faced heated and bitter opposition during the campaign. However, he managed to win convincingly by 43.9 percent against three other candidates in the Democratic primary. His term as mayor was short-lived; less than five months after the election and two months after taking the oath of office, Pastoriza died of apoplexy in his home on July 9, 1917. He was survived by his wife Lula, son Hugh, and brother Alexander. After his death his body was cremated. At the time of his death Pastoriza, a successful real estate investor, owned sixty-two vacant lots and six improved tracts valued at $75,000. A bronze bust, created by local sculptor Enrico Cerracchio, was erected in Houston in April 1919 to honor his memory and his legacy in that city.

Stephen Davis, “Joseph Jay Pastoriza and the Single Tax in Houston, 1911–1917,” The Houston Review 8 (1986). Houston Daily Post, February 19, 1911; July 10, 1917. Houston Post, April 18, 1919.


  • Business
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Company Founders

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era


  • Houston

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

Justin Davis, “Pastoriza, Joseph Jay,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: