Fray Antonio Manuel del Alamo and Garza Indians of Mier, Tamaulipas

Mier, Tamaulipas is a very dear place to me. As a child I used to go with my dad on his usual business trips to Mier. His dealings were usually done near the buildings of its plaza and as a child I could not help but walk over to play in its kiosk. I used to walk over to the church, which is located on one side and there is nothing dividing the plaza and the church, I always thought the plaza was somehow part of the church.

I remember that I would be amazed at the big doors and the huge structure. Mind you I was only about five or six years old at the time. I could have had never imagined that this church and it's plaza might have any deep history in my own family history.

I never imagined that my ancestors at one point might have had enjoyed the cool breeze int hat same plaza. Nor I ever imagined that so many of my ancestors got married and baptized in that church. I also never imagined that many of them also had their last rites in that same church.

As I delved more into my family genealogy a name kept repairing over and over again. That was the name of Fray Antonio Manuel del Alamo. His signature appears in many birth, marriage , and death records of my ancestors. While searching the online archives at PARES (Portal de Archivos Españoles) I came across the following painting of Fray Antonio Manuel del Alamo depicting his with the Garza Indians of the area. The image indicates that he had baptized them. The painting is undated but Fray Antonio served in Mier from about 1790's to the 1830's.

Source: Pintura representando al padre fray Antonio Manuel del Álamo y a indios garzas del Río del Norte (Nuevo Santander) bautizados por él. Archivo General de Indias,MP-MEXICO,504 - 1 - Imagen Núm: 1 / 1

I first became aware of the Garza indians years ago when I first started to do genealogy and I always wondered if they had been driven into extinction. As it turned out they are still around in the San Antonio/Austin area and several years ago they were recognized as a Texas tribe.

If the above painting is of it's times then it is very interesting to note the style of dress of the priests and specially that of the Garza tribe.

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  1. I enjoyed your article of Fray Antonio Manuel de Alamo and the Garza Indians. What type of information did you find the Garza Indians linked to San Antonio and Austin Texas area.? I feel your story left me hanging for more reading. Thank you, Alicia CG O’Neal

    1. Google “Garza tribe recognized by the Texas legislature”. You should be able to find several newspaper articles. It happened a few years ago.

      1. Moises” my name is Roger [Rogelio ] Garza.” I would like to know more about our family.” We are all of ‘The garza Tribe” aren’t we? My dad was born in ‘Laredo Texas” my grandpa from ‘Garceno? I’m a musician.. Played for the likes of ”The Texas Tornados” [Flaco Jimenez” Freddy Fender” [who was also a ”Garza ]His mother was ‘Margarita Garza.” I’m also a ‘Seer” a Shouman”a [psychic/medium” who can see through the human body, read-hands” See ”spirits” too.” I need to know more about ‘Our Tribe” because i want my ‘Native-name.”’ Three of us were born in Laredo”, and three in ‘Minnesota” [which i’m one of.” ] Please feel free to call me whenever” I live outside of ‘Poteet Texas.” Google Freddy Fender And Roger Rabbit Garza.” Or, Roger Garza Sr.” Ph# 830-663-3066′ Thank you” look forward to talking with you ”Primo.”’

  2. Hello Moises –

    Curious about the garza Indians. Did their name derive from the word for heron or from the Surname. We have Garza’s on both side of the family, as do many hispanics from northern Mexico, but genealogical research leads me the the Tamaulipas and the Nuevo León area.

    Also, can you direct me to any information on the founding of Santander? I have read somewhere that the Saldivar family of that area is part of the Los cinco señores founding families but can find no documentation of their names. My great grandfather is a hijo ilegítimo of one of the Saldivar families and we have documentation in the Registro Civil that he refused to assume his natural fathers last name and kept his foster fathers name, which was Rojas.
    And one more question, is there a place where we can post fotos of ancestors who we do not recognize to see if someone can identify them?


    Fred R Soto
    P.S. – am I registered as a member?

    1. From what I have read their name came form their long necks and that they have no association with the last name Garza. As for the Nuevo Santander families look for the census records in the Provincias Internas microfilms. For photos, I would psot them either on the Mexican Genealogy and or the We Are Cousins facebook groups.

  3. Very interesting and touching. My own ancestors included a Catholic priest (Fr Balli) on my father’s side and Cherokee heritage on my mother’s side, which I treasure but have very little information on. I certainly do not begrudge caring for my invalid husband but the research I was able to do before us amazing. God bless you.

  4. Very interesting indeed! My mom was born in Ciudad Mier in 1953. She was named after the church, Concepcion. We visited once, but I was very young and I don’t remember much.

  5. Hello, I’m new to the Villas del Norte. All the information is so interesting. My grandmother’s family were from Old Guerrero,Tamaulipas, Mexico; Rancho Refugio; Marin, Nuevo Leon and that general area. I’m looking forward to using the available resources. Hope to meet some of you at the Conference in September.

  6. Good information. Is there any sort of roster or information on the individuals of the Garza tribe? I found information on all my Garzas, except one, Agustin Garza 1840-1860? He was Justa Trevino’s first husband. She later married my G. G. grandfather. I can find nothing about neither Agustin nor Justa, yet her life was quite interesting. She was a midwife, a partera, and talk was that she was the granddaughter of a shaman and as a consequence was shunned by my Spanish ancestors.

    1. No, I don’t have a roster. But don’t confuse them with people that carry the last name Garza because they don’t Garza is just the name of their tribe.

  7. Hello, I have Garza’s in my family tree, however, I am wondering if there is a connection to the tribe and the surname. Garza is a Spanish name, indigenous names for a tribe would be in their language. If Garza is the name of a tribe then it makes sense that the Spanish priests would give them that name. If the people were known as “Garzas” then white census takers and recorders could have used this name as surnames for people. Just a thought.

  8. Used to visit that plaza when we went across the river. Something about that Church and Plaza that is so welcoming.