Yturria, Francisco (1830–1912)

By: Verna J. McKenna

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1996

Francisco Yturria, Civil War profiteer and banker, son of Capt. Manuel Maria and Paula Navarro (Ortuzu) Yturria, was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on October 4, 1830. He was married to Felicitas Treviño, daughter of Ygnacio Treviño, an original Spanish land grantee in Cameron County; they never had any natural born children, so they adopted a son and daughter. Yturria began his career in business by working as a clerk for Charles Stillman, one of the founders of Brownsville, and by purchasing lands adjoining those of his wife's inheritance. As a top aide to Stillman, Yturria was involved in the formation of Mifflin Kenedy and Company, the Rio Grande riverboating monopoly that Stillman financed and that Mifflin Kenedy and Richard King operated. For his business friends in Brownsville during the Civil War, Yturria became the registered owner of record of boats belonging to King, Kenedy, and Stillman, allowing their boats loaded with cotton and bound for European ports to sail past vessels of the Union blockade flying the Mexican flag. Thus, Yturria became the leading cotton broker of Matamoros during this time. In 1864 Emperor Maximilian of Mexico knighted Yturria and appointed him customs collector on the Rio Grande, a position he held until 1867. When the Civil War ended, Stillman, King, and Kenedy fled to Matamoros and to Yturria's protection; in 1867 they returned to Brownsville, and Yturria fled to Europe to live in France. He returned to Brownsville two years later to again take over his many business enterprises and continue his service to his old friends Stillman, Kenedy, King, and others. At the time of his death Yturria owned 130,000 acres in Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Kenedy, and Starr counties. He not only established and operated the Francisco Yturria Bank of Brownsville under a private charter, he also owned and established a mercantile house in Matamoros. Prior to the coming of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway in 1904, trading was done in Mexican money; however, for the payment of taxes this money was exchanged at the Yturria bank for United States coin. Silver and gold were kept in sacks, and these were stored in a vault that is now on display at the Historic Brownsville Museum. The vast Punta del Monte Rancho was the headquarters of an 85,000-acre tract of land in Willacy and Kenedy counties, which produced 2,000 steers per year. In later years the headquarters was an alternate stop on the Alice-Brownsville stagecoach line. Yturria often combined his cattle drives with King, Kenedy, and Stillman, and the herds required 300 cowboys for the trip to Dodge City. On these occasions Yturria would travel by boat to New Orleans and by train to Kansas, where he sold his cattle; he returned to Texas by way of New York, where he made his deposits in the Hanover National Bank. He was one of the wealthiest and most influential men of his time in southwest Texas. Yturria died on June 12, 1912, in Brownsville.

James Lewellyn Allhands, Gringo Builders (Joplin, Missouri, Dallas, Texas, 1931). W. H. Chatfield, The Twin Cities of the Border and the Country of the Lower Rio Grande (New Orleans: Brandao, 1893; rpt., Brownsville: Brownsville Historical Association, 1959). Dick Frost, The King Ranch Papers (Chicago: Aquarius Rising Press, 1985).

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Business
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Landowners and Land Developers
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Verna J. McKenna, “Yturria, Francisco,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1996

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