Manuel Yturri y Castillo (also spelled Iturri y Castillo), city official, merchant, and rancher, was born in Elgueta, Spain, around 1790 to Pelayo de Yturri y Castillo and María Josefa Acorta. On August 20, 1821, Yturri y Castillo married María Josefa Isabel Rodríguez, daughter of Capt. Mariano Rodríguez, who is said to have served as the paymaster on the staff of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, and María de Carvajal, whose lineage can be traced to the Canary Islanders. Together, Manuel and María Josefa had four legitimate children, José Bernabé, María de Aramasu, Manuel, and Vicenta, though they raised other children as their own, including “two small female children and one small male child.” Of their children, Manuel and Vicenta survived through adulthood.
As a young man, Yturri y Castillo, with a letter of recommendation for the Spanish viceroy, journeyed from his Basque ancestral home to Mexico. His first employment was under the direction of well-established Mexican merchants, the Urtiaga Brothers. Yturri y Castillo visited San Antonio de Béxar often during his business travels. By his own account, in 1817, he made San Antonio his permanent residence. Yturri y Castillo owned several properties, including one in La Villita on South Presa Street. On November 1823, he petitioned for 160 acres of land north of the San Antonio River in the fields of Mission Concepción. Known today as the Yturri-Edmunds home, Yturri y Castillo’s homestead and old gristmill remained in the family long after Yturri y Castillo’s death. Yturri y Castillo’s granddaughter, Ernestine Edmunds, later willed the home to the San Antonio Conservation Society, which took possession of the property in 1961. In 1845, after Yturri y Castillo’s death, his wife sold one of their properties for $300 to John Bowen. This property is known today as Bowen’s Island.
As a successful merchant in his own right, along with marrying into a family with strong political and military ties, Yturri y Castillo was able to establish himself comfortably among the Tejano elite. He served one term as alcalde of San Antonio in 1823. However, anti-Spanish sentiment in post-independent Mexico led to an expulsion law that forced Yturri y Castillo into exile from 1829 until sometime about 1831. Upon his return, after suffering financial loss, Yturri y Castillo was fortunate to reclaim his lands and political status. He continued his involvement in politics under the Republic of Texas, and he was elected as alderman on March 9, 1838. On May 17, 1841, in honor of Mirabeau Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas, Yturri y Castillo hosted a grand ball in his home located in Main Plaza.
With extensive land and livestock holdings, Yturri y Castillo was able to continue to acquire wealth and respect. He died on October 17, 1842, at fifty-three years old. His wife, María Josefa, followed him in death in 1849. Their son Manuel served as a Confederate officer in the Civil War and afterwards continued in his father’s footsteps as a rancher, businessman, and public servant.