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MONTALVO, ISMAEL (1876–1967). Ismael Montalvo, cattle rancher and entrepreneur, was born in Las Prietas, Cameron County, to Antonio Montalvo and Isabel Rodríguez in 1876. He became an elementary teacher in Brownsville. In 1904 he helped Samuel Robertson to found the company that established San Benito. Also he aided Alba Heywood in starting the San Benito Land and Water Company in 1907 through real estate contracts. He became wealthy through contracts with the Mexican government in Matamoros and Reynosa during the Mexican Revolution. At first he bought livestock from the Huerta government and then from the Carranza government. Most of his agreements were with Gen. Lucio Blanco. Disgusted with discrimination toward Hispanics, he aided Luis De la Rosa and Aniceto Pizañaqqv with funds to continue their guerrilla war against the Texas Rangersqv and the American army. His position as deputy sheriff of hide and animal inspections from 1913 to 1918 protected him from criminal charges. In 1920 he provided funds to expand the San Benito Public Library and later to expand the Brownsville Public Library. He saved the San Benito Bank and Trust Company and other firms from collapse during the Great Depression. Montalvo married Francisca Esparza and had several children. By 1950 he was retired from public life and had become active in local community services. When he died on September 22, 1967, his relatives discovered thousands of dollars hidden throughout the house. He detested the IRS.

Carlos M. Larralde


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

Carlos M. Larralde, "MONTALVO, ISMAEL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 28, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.