The Fate and Descendants of the Angel of Goliad

She died on the King Ranch and is buried there in an unmarked grave …. Old Captain King and Mrs. King knew and respected her identity.

Memoirs Elena O'Shea, King Ranch schoolteacher

Descendants include foremen of major divisions of the King Ranch, first Mexican-American to play high school football in Kingsville, brothers Bobby Cavazos, Gen. Richard O. Cavazos, and Dr. Lauro Cavazos, former president of Texas Tech University and Secretary of Education 1988-1990, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet; the Alvarez clan is alive and well in Kingsville, in Corpus Christi and all over South Texas.

Memoirs Elena O'Shea, King Ranch schoolteacher

In the years before his death in 1957, author Harbert Davenport uncovered the apparent fate of the “Angel of Goliad” described most recently in the 1993 publication by Bill and Marjorie K. Walraven, The Magnificent Barbarians: Little Told Tales of the Texas Revolution. In 1936, Mrs. Elena Zamora O’Shea, wrote up some of her experiences while a school teacher on the Santa Gertrudis Division of The King Ranch in 1902-3:

…Among the Mexicans there were Alfonso, an old servant to Mrs. King, and Matías Alvarez..…..After school hours every Friday, these two old men would come to the schoolhouse and listen to me as I read to them from Spanish newspapers, or translated stories from the books studied by the children. We had been reading Mrs. Pennybacker’s History of Texas. They followed the stories anxiously. When I read the story of the massacre of Goliad, Don Matías was alert, taking in every word. When I had finished, he asked me, “Is that all that they say about Goliad?” I told him it was. “They do not say that anyone helped those who were hurt or that any of them were saved?” he asked…

kingjohnranPrompted for the reason for his questions, Matías Alvarez related that his father was Telesforo Alavez whose marriage was arranged by parents. He separated from the wife for years, lived with his sweetheart, Francisca, who followed him throughout his military assignments on the northern frontier. In Matamoros, Matías and a brother Guadalupe, were born. Matías related that after Colonel Alavez’s death, he and family members worked north of the Rio Grande on ranches and truck farms including the Yturria Ranch which was earlier the Cortina Ranch. Matías had children Pablo, Luis, Dolores, Gerardo, Guadalupe, Jacinto, Maria and Telesforo. In 1884 Matías began working for the King Ranch. According to him, Captain King, founder of the ranch, knew Colonel Alavez while he was still living and of the humanitarian actions of Señora Alavez.

According to teacher O’Shea the whole extended family lived on and worked on the giant ranch,

“the boys worked at different occupations. The girls sewed for the family. Maria became the companion maid of Miss Clara Driscoll…..During the two years I taught there, I had among my pupils Gerardo Alvarez Jr. in whom both Mrs. King and Mrs. Robert Kleberg took special interest. The boy finished high school and was sent to a school of pharmacy and is now [1936] a druggist at Kingsville. Other members of the Alvarez family live at Kingsville or on King ranches.”

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Mrs. O’Shea is said to have related to others that Matías’ aging mother was with the family and that she had met Doña Panchita when she was bedridden and in her nineties. O’Shea wrote that

“She died on the King Ranch and is buried there in an unmarked grave …. Old Captain King and Mrs. King knew and respected her identity.”

 According to the Walraven’s, Mrs. O’Shea’s story was related in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1986. Gerard Alvarez III of Corpus Christi contacted the author and related “I was born in Kingsville in 1938, I am proud to say, the great-grandson of Matías Alvarez and fifth generation descendant of Doña Francisca ‘Panchita’ Alavez . . . .”

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Mr. Alvarez related that Gerardo Alvarez I, son of Matías Alvarez, became foreman of the Santa Gertrudis Division of the King Ranch and died February 1914 just before the birth of Gerardo II. Gerardo II never finished pharmacy school, but instead became a professional baseball umpire and after twenty-five years he later was a Civil Service worker in Corpus Christi. In the 1930’s Gerardo II was the first American of Mexican descent to play high school football in Kingsville. He died in 1985.

After Gerardo Alvarez I’s death in 1914, Lauro Cavazos became foreman of the Santa Gertrudis section. A sister of Gerardo I, Rita Alvarez and also daughter of Matías Alverez, married a Mr. Quintanilla. Their daughter, Tomasa Alvarez Quintanilla, married Lauro Cavazos. Lauro and Tomasa Alvarez Quintanilla Cavazos were parents of Bobby Cavazos, who was a Kleberg County commissioner, a country singer and once foreman of the Laureles Division of the King Ranch; Gen. Richard O. Cavazos; and Dr. Lauro Cavazos, former president of Texas Tech University and Secretary of Education 1988-1990 under Presidents Reagan and Bush, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. Gerard Alvarez III wrote that …”the Alvarez clan is alive and well in Kingsville, in Corpus Christi and all over South Texas.”

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