Villegas, Quintín (1850–1914)

By: Melissa Barrientos-Whitfield

Type: Biography

Published: January 19, 2020


Quintín Villegas, merchant and civic leader, was born in Santander, Spain, in March 1850. He was the son of Lorenzo Bustillo Villegas and Vicenta Francisca Ivanez Pacheco. Villegas traveled to Cuba with his family in 1865 and then to Corpus Christi in 1870 to join his brother Joaquín, who had already established himself as a merchant. The two brothers ran their mercantile business in Corpus Christi until 1874 when Quintín and Joaquín moved to Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and established successful businesses in those neighboring cities. By the late 1870s Quintín Villegas married Amalia Gonzales, a native of Cuba. They had at least two children, but only one daughter, Herminia, survived to adulthood.

In 1889 the Villegas brothers formed a partnership, J. Villegas & Bro., and engaged in the general mercantile trade. In an advertisement in the January 12, 1890, edition of the Laredo Times, the brothers were described as “Importers And Wholesale Dealers” in groceries and as commission merchants and manufacturers’ agents with “Special Attention to Mexican Produce.” Their business grew and became one of the largest and most influential on the border and one of the largest importers of Mexican goods in the Southwest. They organized Villegas Mercantile Company in 1903 but shortly thereafter sold the business to L. Villegas & Bro. (Joaquín’s sons Leopoldo and Lorenzo) and retired by 1906.

Quintín Villegas was active in Laredo civic affairs but never held a political office even though the citizens of Laredo encouraged him to run for mayor in 1894. Villegas was president of the Laredo Business Men’s Club for seven years and resigned from that position in 1904. His work with the Laredo Business Men’s Club did much to improve the city and the area. With his brother he owned ranch property in Webb and contiguous counties. He also owned several mining and banking businesses in México. Villegas was a stockholder and director for the Milmo National Bank in Laredo. His house, now gone, was described as “one of the most beautiful in the city.”

He died at his home in Laredo in February 1914. His death, which is listed as February 5 in the Texas Death Index, was reported in the February 8, 1914, edition of the Laredo Weekly Times: “In his demise Laredo lost a worthy and valuable citizen, a man who had always been foremost in everything he contributed to the betterment of the city, its institutions and its populace.” He was buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo.

Laredo Times, January 12, 1890. Laredo Weekly Times, February 8, 1914; July 14, 1918. “Quintin Villegas,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178888582/quintin-villegas), accessed January 15, 2020. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).

Categories:

  • Business
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Company Founders
  • Food Related
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

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

Melissa Barrientos-Whitfield, “Villegas, Quintín,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/villegas-quintin.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 19, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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