|"First appearances never tell the whole story.
'Tis the same with family history."
- Randall Davis
Jesus Fonibio Español de Cabazos (1821-1886)
Jesus Fonibio Español de Cabazos, the grandfather of Ana Maria Cavazos, was born in 1820 in Saltillo, Coahila, Mexico, to Ygnacio Cabazos and his wife, Juana and was baptized on April 16, 1821.1 Little is known about his early life. He married Porfiria Guerra around 1852, in Victoria, Texas.2 Amando Cavazos Castro, grandson of Jesus Cabazos, relates the following about the Cavazos and Guerra families:
My grandmother's family [Porfiria Guerra] was very rich. They were the Guerras-Cabazos. They had a ranch in Reynosa called Guerreno because it was the land of their forefathers. They also had land in Matamoros. They had many ranches there. However, my grandfather, Jesus Cabazos, wasn't rich. 3
After the Mexican War had ended in 1848, many Mexicans as well as American veterans of the war settled lands in Texas. Seeing an opportunity for financial opportunity, Jesus and Porfiria moved northward to Victoria, Texas, around 1853.4
This area was settled by Don Martin De León in October, 1824, after receiving the privilege of colonizing the area by the Mexican National Government. The colonization laws encouraged the settlement of Texas, provided that those who came showed evidence to their Christian beliefs, morality, and good habits.5
Jesus bought 239 acres of land ten miles northwest of Victoria on July 17, 1854, from Francisco De León, grandson of Don Martin De León, an important land owner and political figure in the area. Jesus purchased the land for $597.50 and then sold the land less than a year thereafter on March 15, 1855, to Bernardo Lopez for $550.00.6-7 After Jesus sold the land, he returned with his family to Reynosa, Mexico.8
The precise reasons for their quick departure from the area are unknown; however, A. B. J. Hammett (1973) in his book, The Empresario: Don Martin De León, describes the changes that occurred after the Mexican War that could have influenced Jesus and Porfiria to leave Victoria:
After [the battle of] San Jacinto [on April 21, 1836], Anglo-American volunteers from the United States took over the lands, homes and livestock in payment for their services. They were quick to file on the most desirable tracts in the Goliad, Victoria, and Rufugio area. Overnight the country changed from the Spanish culture to that of the Anglo-Americans. 9
He continues to say that the Mexicans that lived in that area became
. . . victims of bigotry, prejudice, and abuse. The newcomers took over the government of the town, and although many were good honest people, in with them came the adventurers, who unfortunately gave Texas an unsavory name in its early days. It was this barbarian element that made life for the De Leons, as well as all the colonists with Spanish names, absolutely insufferable.10
While living in Victoria, their first child, Jesus Cabazos, was born on April 17, 1853.11 He was baptized the following year on March 25, 1854, at Saint Mary's Catholic Church.12 Those present at the baptism were Father Joseph Anstaett, Francisco De León, and Maria de La Luz Escalera de León.
Jesus and Porfiria were the parents of at least six children (see details here): Jesus, born in 1853, Josefa, in 185513, Luis, in 185814, Rafaela, in 186115, Francisco, in 186316, and Flora.17 They spent most of their lives on a ranch called Zapotal in Reynosa in the Mexican state of Tampulipas.
When Jesus Cabazos died, his wife gave much of the land they owned to their nephews and then moved to El Chiquito, Mexico.18
(FHC refers to the number of the microfilm on which the particular record is found with the Family History Centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
8. Their son Luis Cavazos was born in 1857 in the area of Reynosa according to the birth record of his son, Pablo Cavazos. See civil registration of Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico, births, 1882-1889 (1888), act number 20 (FHC 1104251). Also Jesus Cabazos was not listed in the 1860 Texas census in Victoria, Texas. David Cavazos, great-grandson of Jesus Cavazos, said that because Jesus became ill, the family returned to Reynosa around 1856, in an interview September 10, 1983 (back).
11. Baptismal record at Saint Mary's Catholic Church, Victoria, Texas. Volume 2, page 70 (third entry), act 470 (FHC 0025514). I also have two other handwritten certificates copied from the original, one recorded in 1947 and the other in 1996. The spelling of Porfiria's is different in both even though they were taken from the same record, serving as a good example of how discrepancies can arise (back).
Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Marriages 1911-1916 (presentation before marriage, 1915), act 86, and act 7 (actual marriage ceremony, 1916), (FHC 1104262). Marriage of daughter, Guadalupe, to Jesus M. Guerra. Josefa had already died according to the record (back).
Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Marriages, 1917-1923, act 183, August 21, 1918 (FHC 1104436). This certificate was filed to record the birth of Porfirio Cavazos which occurred earlier in 1876 (delayed registration). His parents were Isidoro Cavazos and Josefa Cavazos de Cavazos. His grandparents on his mother's side were Jesus Cavazos and Porfiria Guerra. Porfirio's uncle, Jesus Cavazos, testified of the facts of his nephew's birth. Jesus was 65 in 1918, according to the record (back).
14. Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Births 1882-1889 (1887), act 34, May 25, 1887 (FHC 1104251). Birth record of Luis' son, Luis. It indicates the birth dates of all parties involved. It also states that Tomasa Garza, born in 1865, was the wife of Luis (back).
Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Births, 1882-1889, act 20, February 25, 1888 (FHC 1104251). Birth record of Luis' son, Pablo. Certificate states that Luis was born in 1858 (back).
15. Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Marriages 1878-1880, acts 108 and 109, May 31, 1879 (FHC 1104259). Marriage of Rafaela Cavazos and Jesus Garcia. Rafaela was 18 years old. According to the certificate, Jesus Cabazos was 59 years old, and his wife, Porfiria, was dead (back).
Civil Registration: Reynosa, Tampulipas, Mexico. Marriages 1911-1916 (1914), acts 52 and 55 (FHC 1104262). Marriage of daughter, Maria, to Manuel Fierro (back). 18. Interview with Amando Cavazos, September 1983; however, this contradicts the note 15 which states that Porfiria died before Jesus (back).