Roel, José García (1882–1949)

By: Ever Lopez

Type: Biography

Published: March 1, 2016


José García Roel, considered by his contemporaries as a literary genius as well as a respected educator, poet, writer, orator, justice of the peace, and journalist, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, on April 21, 1882. He was the youngest of twelve children of José Angel García and Maria Petra Roel. José started working at age nine to help support his family when his father died. In September 1905 he graduated with a teaching certificate from the Escuela Normal del Estado de Nuevo León.

Before the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, Roel served as a magistrate in the state of Nuevo León for the cities of Sabinas Hidalgo and Monterrey in Nuevo León as well as the cities of Morelos, Zaragoza, and Nava in the state of Coahuila. Later, he served as a municipal secretary, justice of the peace, and district director of schools in Guerrero, Tamaulipas. Primarily, Roel owned a small print shop that he operated from his home, which he used to publish a weekly newspaper called El Fronterizo. The newspaper criticized the growing violence, along with the indiscriminate killing of women and children, in the area due to the uprising Mexican Revolution.

In 1913, as the Mexican revolution reached the city of Guerrero, his house and print shop were set on fire by revolutionaries. Consequently Roel was forced to abandon the city of Guerrero and move to Laredo, Texas, to start a new life. In Laredo, he reestablished his print shop and began publishing his weekly newspapers which he used as a platform to gain equal rights for all citizens of Laredo. El Fronterizo and El Combate were among the most successful periodicals. In 1926 H. J. Hanway, the new owner of the Laredo Times, hired him to be the editor and director of the new section “El Tiempo de Laredo.” As a respected member of the community, José García Roel was popular as a public orator and intellectual who was also a prolific writer of poems and novels. In 1934 he published his novel El Hombre Que Mató A Su Alma, and in 2001 his son Virgilio Roel published the book Madrigales Intimos containing a collection of poems his father had written during his lifetime.

José García Roel married fellow teacher Joséfina Gonzalez Santos on July 23, 1904, and together they had fourteen children. After Joséfina’s death due to childbirth complications, Roel married Petra Saenz. She was listed as his wife on the 1940 U. S. census. Roel died in Laredo on January 20, 1949, and was buried in Laredo City Cemetery.

“Jose Garcia Roel,” Find A Grave Memorial (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=50247001&PIpi=120779580), accessed February 26, 2016. José García Roel, El Hombre Que Mató A Su Alma: Ensayo De Novela En El Que Palpita Algo De La Vida Real Y Flota El Sentimiento De Un Amor Santo Y Noblemente Sentido, 1934 (Bloomington, Indiana.: 1st Books, 2001). “Virgilio G. Roel,” Stacy Nelson and Alicia Rascon, Interview, Austin, Texas, August 02, 2006 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/voces/template-stories-indiv.html?work_urn=urn%3Autlol%3Awwlatin.434&work_title=Roel%2C+Virgilio+G.), accessed October 29, 2015.

Categories:

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Military
  • Mexican Revolution

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression

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

Ever Lopez, “Roel, José García,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/roel-jose-garcia.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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