In 1803 two men, brothers - Gregorio and Felipe who were part of a Spanish Military Unit in northern New Spain, received orders to relocate and travel from their pueblo, “San Jose y Santiago de Alamo” (near Parras, Coahuila) to an outpost at the outskirts of the Spanish Empire. These orders were direct from the Spanish King, Carlos V (5th), and would take the two brothers and their unit on a 300-mile journey - to La Villa de San Fernando, present day San Antonio.
Their new assignment was to secure the Louisiana / United States borders in order to keep the Americans out of Texas, and to stop the livestock smuggling. This regiment was effectively the only Police Force protection that Tejas and its residents would have at that time in history.
These brothers, Gregorio and Felipe, were Mounted Lancers in the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras; a prestigious, highly trained and disciplined Spanish military unit of 100. The name of their Spanish regiment was “Alamo de Parras”. The San Antonio Mission’s name was later changed to “The Alamo” because of this Spanish regiment; Alamo de Parras. The “Mounted lancers of Alamo de Parras” were also commissioned to stop the Indian raids from penetrating the Interior Provinces of New Spain and in turn the soldiers were able to start a settlement, become merchants, civil workers, ranchers and farmers.
Upon arriving to La Villa de San Fernando (San Antonio), the two brothers checked in at the presidio (Fort) with their families only to find out that the soldier accommodations were in ruins. The Commandant at the Presidio ordered the brothers to stay with their families at a recently built Spanish mission about a mile away - San Antonio de Valero, The Alamo.
Gregorio had a young son who had also weathered the 300-mile trip from Coahuila and he was called, Miguelito. Miguelito was only nine years old when his family checked into the now famous Alamo and the young boy grew up and lived inside the Alamo for eight years until he turned seventeen years old when his father Gregorio retired for serving thirty-two years with the Spanish lancers.
Now, Miguelito it was said, was a very smart young boy that had a zeal for learning and living. In his youth, Miguelito grew up in the shadow of this military group at the Alamo and he learned many important things from them, mainly the survival aspect of life. He also grew up among the Franciscan Friars and the native Americans housed at the Alamo, and yes, Miguelito also learned from them.
In 1811, Gregorio, Miguelito’s father received a generous Spanish land grant in the center of present-day San Antonio. Beautiful river front real estate property off the San Antonio River.
Miguelito would later become a mounted lancer like his Dad. He was the third generation, and his son Cristoval, also became a mounted lancer, making Cristoval a fourth generation mounted Lancer. Miguelito grew to become a man and his friends now called him – Jose Miguel and he became a mounted lancer like his Dad and uncle from 1810-1836.
Jose Miguel became a member of “The Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras” which eventually disbanded in 1836 after the formation of the Republic of Texas. Within these years, Miguel was an emissary for Spain and Captain of a military exploratory party. Miguel was fluent in Spanish, English and French and Miguel also had fluency in several different Native American dialects.
Miguel had been commissioned by the Mexican Supreme Government to have peace talks with the hostile Native Indians to promote peace with the Indians so they could all live together. Miguel was very successful in these efforts.
In 1826, Jose Miguel was ordered to have peace talks with Chief Richard Fields of the Cherokee Indian Nation. He was then sent to the “Las Lagunas de Gallinas” to continue his mission to have peace talks with the Comanche, Tahuallaces, Tejas and Caddo Indians. It took Miguel from January 21 to June 15, 1826 to complete this assignment, but he did succeed in completing his mission.
In 1832, Jose Miguel was the founder of the Town of Bastrop. He drew up the plans for the new city, surveyed it, and then, named this town in memory of his longtime friend and fellow legislator, the “Baron de Bastrop”.
Jose Miguel served as the public treasurer, political chief, judge, captain of the militia, general inspector of arms, and also became Alcalde (Mayor) of San Antonio de Bexar in 1830 and again in 1833.
Jose Miguel’s father, Gregorio, died in 1822 from a tooth infection and Jose Miguel inherited Gregorio’s property in downtown San Antonio.
On December 11, 1835, Jose Miguel was appointed by General Martin Perfecto de Cos to be his "interpreter" for the capitulation between Cos and Colonel Edward Burleson after the Siege of Béxar was won by the Texians and the Tejanos.
During the Texas Revolution, Jose Miguel proudly served in the military for the Republic of Texas with his son Cristoval. Private Jose Miguel Cristobal (aka Miguel Jr.) served under Juan Seguin’s Tejano Volunteer Company.
After the revolution, Don Jose Miguel was very active in the Republic of Texas era and served as a probate and an associate judge, Bexar County Commissioner, Alderman, and secured the borders at the Rio Grande under the instructions of President David G. Burnet.
Don Jose Miguel was also a businessman. He made and sold carts for horses and was a well-known lifelong merchant of sugarcane, potatoes and corn.
In 1846, during the Mexican War and the Annexation of the Republic of Texas to become Texas, United States, Jose Miguel secured the Rio Grande border for United States as a Captain.
On May 13, 1849, Don Jose Miguel died an untimely death at the age of fifty-six only a few blocks from his home in downtown San Antonio. In the life that he was given, Jose Miguel held many leadership posts of great responsibility and accomplished many noteworthy, early Texas, historical events.
History would remember that young boy, Miguelito, who grew up in our Alamo by his birth name - Jose Miguel de Arciniega. Jose Miguel de Arciniega was a True Patriot of our Texas Revolution – and so much more.
A young boy who grows up inside the Alamo, grows up to fight for Texas independence, survives the rebellion, becomes one of the most influential and successful men of his time, and one day becomes Alcalde of San Antonio de Béxar - can you be any more Texan than that?
His descendants, the “Jose Miguel Arciniega Descendants Society” (JMADS), named his first home the “Arciniega House” on his birthday September 20, 2013; presently still standing on the corner of Arciniega Street and South Presa Street; in the courtyard of the Marriott Plaza Hotel, off the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. Miguelito and his father were very close, Gregorio Arciniega and his son Miguelito built that house - together.
This post is dedicated to all of Don Jose Miguel’s descendants living today in Texas and around the world that continue to carry the torch handed down to them by Jose Miguel de Arciniega, a Texas Patriot of our revolution, to the benefit of Texas.
And, Don Jose Miguel and Cristoval, Thank you Spanish Gentlemen and Patriots, for your roles in early Texas leadership, deeds of bravery, and for your service to our Republic – Texas.
• Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, Wikipedia.
• “The Alamo” by Mary G. Ramos, the Texas Almanac, 1992–1993.
• Jose Miguel de Arciniega, Wikipedia.
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