Category Archives: Garza

My Papa Lalo, Don Eulalio Contreras Garza

This guest post is brought to you by David Cantú Garcia. It is an awesome story and you will enjoy reading it. Thanks David for sharing.

What a man, he made all the John Wayne’s look like punks. Papa Lalo, as I called him, was my father’s foster father and his baptismal Padrino, but he was the only Grandpa I knew on my father’s side. Don Eulalio Contreras Garza, my grandfather, was born in El Rancho de Los Solis’s outside of La Grulla Texas in Starr County on February 12, 1876. His father Apolonio Contreras Villarreal and his mother Demetria Garza Solis were descendants of the original porciones grantees. Demetria Garza died on 30 Apr 1930 at Precinct No 5, Starr, Texas, she died at the age of 82 years of age, her birth year is 1848, her birthplace was Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico her father’s name was Nepomuceno Garza and her mother’s name was Maria Eugenia Solis she was buried at Solis’s Cemetery in La Grulla Texas on May 1st 1930

Papa Lalo stood more than six feet three inches tall, straight as a wooden soldier. His eyes were a penetrating light brown, his hair pitch black; even as an old man he still had a bounce in his step, a strong hand shake and plenty of black hair. He had the face of a movie star and was well versed in history and politics. He worked on his father’s fields and properties until 1895 when he built a blacksmith shop on family property at the old river crossing at the contraband river crossing at Villarreales and Valadeces Tamaulipas on the Mexican side of the river but he maintained his residence and his own farming business properties in what is now Los Solis’s de La Grulla Texas.

In 1897, that river frontage on the Rio Grande was a contraband crossing from Valadeces to La Grulla where small appliances, dry goods and other necessary goods would be traded back and forth. The crossing could quite easily be negotiated by swimming across, by chalupa or on horseback. I recall him saying that his blacksmith business would clear him as much as five dollars per month and that much money was hard to come by during the depression of that time.

He was a strong, versatile, easy-going workaholic. His workdays were often sixteen hours or more. He spent most of this time over the hot coal-fired forge and large anvil, hammering an edge on plows or horse shoes and other items used in farming communities around on both sides of the river. Business grew and he purchased an additional forge and anvil and in 1900 he built a huge guest house to help feed and accommodate the travelers and farm workers. He would welcome every one and became quite the politician.  When I met him 47 years later we were calabaza candy salesmen. Papa Lalo would make candy, barbacoa, chicharones and cabrito in the back yard and he and I would go to La Grulla to sell our merchandize, and he made me carry the money and make the sales pitch and handle the money and the change. He made me feel like the most important and fortunate person in the world. He made sure I would keep that feeling for the rest of my life.

On Sundays, he would load his farrier equipment and apply his other trade: shoeing horses in surrounding communities. El Rancho de Los Villarreales, el Rancho de Las Cuevas, or Camargo and Valadeces always had several horses to be shod and one Sunday each month was spent at those places. The money made on Sundays not only kept him in business, but also kept many area farmers, ranchers and the local dairy in business supplying his needs. Money was scarce, but credit was never refused at Papa Lalo’s shop. Most payments were in the form of essentials, such as eggs, chickens, butter, hams, fruit and garden produce. On more than one occasion, horses, calves and even live hogs were delivered to his home as payment for his services.

Papa Lalos’ ‘s shop was becoming a focal meeting point at the river during the terrible turn of the century. People would come to the crossing, drop off their various jobs and visit while their repairs were being made. His Guesthouse had become a sort of social center. In time it became a safe place for political discussion.

One historic event that Papa Lalo talked about was when in 1906 El Carnicero from San Miguel de Las Cuevas Abelino Mata, and Papa  Meme came to see him to discuss a way in which military merchandise could be crossed into Mexico. At that time Revolutionaries were preparing for a revolution in Mexico and they were organizing meetings with leaders in Tamaulipas. The revolutionaries needed weapons and were willing to go to all means to obtain them.

The weapons would be acquired from sources in San Antonio then passed over the Rio Grande River in boats at Papa Lalo’s Crossing from La Grulla to Valadeces or Villarreales and from there the weapons would be taken to the El Rancho San Vicente del Potrero to be delivered by mule drawn wagons to points west and south.

This is where and how Papa Meme, Tio David, Papa Silverio, and all of our great uncles and Papa Lalo met. Papa Meme worked for the Mexican Government and patrolled the Mexican side of the river as a border agent from Ciudad Rio Bravo, then called La Estación del Ebano, to Ciudad Mier. Papa Lalo was now serving breakfast lunch and dinner at his Guest House (Casa de Huéspedes) and Papa Meme would drop in from time to time to freshen up, enjoy a warm meal and indulge in good coffee and good conversation.

More than once Papa Meme told me about participating in meetings at the guesthouse discussing political subjects and sharing stories of the Mexican Revolution with his friends such as the Flores Magon brothers and others who motivated el Tio David and others to finally join the Revolution.  And I still choke up when I recall how his eyes would swell up with tears when on occasion, he would tell me of how armed gringos would fire upon on and commit bloody atrocities against our people, especially in isolated rural areas. These brutal incidents against U.S. citizens of Mexican descent would quickly prompt an aggressive counter response from some quick tempered Tejanos, especially when the authorities would side with the gringo criminals, and he would answer with their own retaliation against the vile gringos and authorities. The result was a reign of turmoil and violence in the lower Rio Grande valley marked by atrocities, depredations, cruelty, and bloodshed, with the Texas Rangers establishing fear and terror among the Tejano population in an effort to maintain Anglo-American social control. According to him, it was a war.

The Rangers had become the vicious perpetrators of Terrorism, violence and mayhem creating the only topic of discussion at Papa Lalo’s Guesthouse. The summary executions of “meskins” as they were called by Rangers were by no means, isolated events, nor were the Rangers the only perpetrators. Local sheriffs and other gringo town officials, along with the general Anglo populace, also became involved. Thousands of our ancestors fled their lands in the United States for refuge in Mexico in the face of the Ranger and Sheriff raids and the rampant gringo terrorism.

My Grandfather Lalo was an unofficial politician on both sides of the border and over the years Papa Lalo had emerged as a leader in his community on both sides of the river. A corrupt Porfirio Diaz dictatorship in Mexico and the racist Ku Klux Klan Rangers in Texas made living outside the law as a contrabandist a necessity and the only possible means of survival and support. Contraband was simply commerce. He personally had been Godfather to hundreds of new born babies that would be crossed over from Mexico and baptized and registered on the north side off the river, he was everybody’s Padrino. He was my father’s Padrino he was my Tia Nene’s Padrino and if I recall correctly my Tia Lala is named after him. For the poorest of the poor Papa Lalo’s guesthouse became their Ellis Island. Papa Lalo was a statue of liberty for them, their entry to a better life if they could get beyond the border. His hopes of economic and social advancement for his people were dashed by the terror of the Anglo violence. In spite of his best efforts conducting meetings and organizing Benevolent Associations, along with those who shared his views, they soon became convinced that living in south Texas was living in a war zone. At least that is the excuse that my Tio David Garcia gave when he announced that he had sold his general store where Sam Fordyce now stands, was buying horses and rifles, equipping a troop of jinetes and of to the revolution he would go.

Copyright © David Cantú Garcia. All rights reserved. To reuse this article please contact.

First Head Stone of Eusebio Garza Lopez

This picture is of the first head stone, Eusebio Garza Lopez, my great-grandfather had from the time of his burial in June of 1947 all up until the death of his wife Paula Lopez in December of 1975. The head stone was removed and moved to an old Jacal at Rancho El Ebanito where it remains up to this date. The reason for removing it, is that the family bought both of them matching monuments. I’ll be posting those pictures at a later date.

The Head stone reads “Eusebio Garza Nacio En Agosto 14 1883 Fallecio Junio 4 1947 Dedican Este Recuerdo su Esposa E Hijos“. (Eusebio Garza born on August 14, 1883 Died June 4 1947 His Wife and Children dedicate this Memory).

I remember that as a child I would always see this headstone and be amazed. My mind would start wondering about many things. How was his life? Soon I wanted to learn more and I am lucky that I have.

Eusebio’s parents are Jose Martin Garza Garcia and Maria Ruperta Lopez Garza. He was also the husband of Paula Lopez Garza.

The 1920 Baptism of Eulalio Garza Lopez in Mier Tamaulipas, Mexico

The following image is of the baptism of Eulalio Garza Lopez at Inmaculada Concepcion, in Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico in 1920. Eulalio was my grandfather, his parents were Eusebio Garza Lopez and Paula Lopez Garza. This image indicates that his God Parents were Jorge Lopez and Concepcion Ramirez. I am guessing that Jorge is Paula’s brother since I have him listed as such from information obtained from my father.

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Transcription From Image:

No 492 Eulalio

En la Parroquia de C. Mier, a los diez dias del mes de Noviembre del ano del pr mil novecientos veinte, yo el Ptno, Ramon Sanchez, bautize solemnemente, puse el sto oleo y sto Crisma a un nino a quien puse por nombre Eulalio que nacio en El Arcabus el dia ocho de Diciembre del ano anterior; hijo legitimo def Eusebio Garza y Paula Lopez. Padrinos Jose Angel Lopez y Concepcion Ramirez, a quienes adverti su obligacion y parentezco espiritual. Y para que constancia firme.

Ramon Sanchez

Sources: FamilySearch, and conversations with Lauro Garza Marroquin (my father).

Marriage of Eusebio Garza Lopez and Paula Lopez Garza in Los Aldamas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

The following is the 1907 Civil Marriage of my great-grandparents Eusebio Garza and Paula Lopez in Los Aldamas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. At the end is the transcription of the documents in Spanish as the original documents. Once I get a chance I’ll translate them (almost two years and I have not done so, more than likely I won’t due to lack of time).

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The following is the transcription of the above images:

Numero 4 cuatro matrimonio de Eusebio Garza y Paula Lopez

Acta numero 9 nueve. = En la villa de Los Aldamas a los 20 veinte dias del mes de Marzo de 1907 mil novecientos siete a las 8 ocho de la noche ante mi Luciano Pena Juez del Estado Civil de esta Municipalidad hallandome en el despacho de esta Oficina, presentes el Senor Eucebio Garza y la Senorita Paula Lopez, ambos celibes, el primero de 22 veintidos anos de edad hijo legitimo de Don Martin Garza y Dona Ruperta Lopez y la segunda de 18 diesiocho anos de edad hija lejitima de Don Jorge Lopez y Dona Luz Garza, todos vecinos de Ciudad Mier, Estado de Tamaulipas, con residencia en la Congregacion de El Arcabus; de profesion el pretenso y el padre labradores. Ambos contrayentes dijeron que habiendose presentado en objeto de contraer matrimonio el dia 3 tres de Diciembre del ano proximo pasado, en cuyo acto tambien estubo presente el padre de la pretensa, dando en consentimiento, asi como lo hace ahora para que su hija contraiga el matrimonioconsertado por ser menor de edad, y por otra parte haciendo sido hechas las publicaciones en la forma legal, sin que se haya presentado inpedimiento alguno segun aparece de las constancias prespectivas, piden al Senor Juez autorice Consentada union. Ynterogados los contrayentes en los terminos de al ley hicieron la formal declaracion de ser su voluntad unirse en matrimonio, y entregarse mutuamente como marido y mujer, en esta virtud yo Luciano Pena Juez del Estado civil de esta villa, hice la siguiente declaracion: En nombre de la sociedad declaro unidos en perfecto, legitimo e indisaluble matrimonioal Senor Eusebio Garza y a la Senorita Paula Lopez. Fueron testigos de este acto los Senores Bacilio Ramirez, Brigido Gonzalez y Gregorio G. Gonzalez, mayores de edad, casado el primero y el ultimo y el segundo soltero labradores y vecinos de Ciudad Mier los dos primeros y el ultimo de esta vecindad. Leida esta acta a los interesados y testigos de conformidad firmaron los que supreson Conmigo el Juez Doy fe. = Luciano Pena. = Eusebio Garza. = Bacilio Ramirez. = Brigido Gonzalez. = Gregorio G. Gonzalez. = Cinco surlericas. = Es copia que certifico

Luciano Pena

Source: FamilySearch