The Cortina Wars is a name given to armed conflicts precipitated by a Mexican rancher named Juan Cortina. Juan Nepomuceno Cortina was born in 1824 in Tamaulipas, Mexico into a cattle ranching family. His mother, Trinidad Cortina inherited some property in the late 1820s that was in the general area of what we know as Brownsville and Matamoros, located on both sides of the Rio Grande. At this time, the Rio Grande geographically divided the two areas, but it was all part of Mexico until after the Mexican-American War, which essentially moved the Mexican border from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande.
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During its ownership and control of Texas, Spain had attempted to colonize the areas along the Rio Grande to take advantage of its fresh water system. The King of Spain granted ownership of blocks of land to certain private individuals who had shown an interest in colonization and had resided in the area for a number of years. After Mexico declared its independence from Spain, most of the Spanish grants were upheld. Similarly, most were also recognized under the Texas Republic, following its establishment.
Mexia is located in Limestone County in east central Texas. It was founded in the 1800s and lies just north of Fort Parker with Groesbeck being the nearest town to the south of the fort. Before the Anglo settlement began in the area, it was home to Native American tribes including the Comanche.
On March 27, some 21 days after the fall of the Alamo, James Fannin and roughly 345 captured soldiers were executed by Mexican General Urrea at the order of Santa Anna after the fall of the Presidio la Bahia. The bodies of the soldiers were burned.
Out of this story came another one of a Mexican woman who had shown mercy to those who had been captured at other times or feigned death in the massacre. In various accounts, the woman was referred to by several variations of the name, including Alvarez, but for this account, we will use Francita Alavéz or just Señora Alavéz.
José Antonio Navarro was the son of Angel Navarro of Corsica, the Mediterranean island south of Spain, and Josefa Maria Ruiz y Peña. He was born in 1795 in San Antonio de Béxar. He, like many other Tejano residents of the area, opposed the rule of Santa Anna. He married Margarita de la Garza in 1825 and together they would have seven children.
Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Sáenz was the first vice president of the Republic of Texas, serving under interim President David G. Burnet. He was born October 3, 1788 in the Yucatán area of Mexico and died November 15, 1836 at the age of 48 in Channelview, Texas. His family heritage was Spanish and he was in the third generation of his family to be born on the American continent.
Manuel Trazazas Gonzaullas was born on the Fourth of July, 1891 in Spain. His parents were naturalized US Citizens but were in Spain at the time of his birth. Manuel was brought up in the border town of El Paso. He was reportedly inspired to become a Texas Ranger after seeing Ranger John R. Hughes on horseback when Gonzaullas was only a youth. His desire to pursue a career in law enforcement was further led by the murder of his two brothers and the serious wounding of his parents in an incident. He did not join the Rangers at his first opportunity, but rather served in the Mexican Army and an agent for the US Treasury Department for five years. He married in 1920 and enlisted in the Rangers later the same year.