Contrasting Cultures: Patricia de Garza de Leon and Petra Vela Vidal Kennedy
Dr. Crimm's full Texas Talks on two Tejano women: Patricia de Leon and Petra Vela Kenedy, recorded in December 2015, contrasts these women's experiences in 19th century Texas. Patricia de la Garza de Leon was born in 1775 from a prominent Mexican family. She inherited a fortune from her father, which she used, along with her empresario husband, Martin de Leon’s money earned from the sale of livestock to establish the de Leon Colony in Texas. Patricia was an influential figure in the founding of the city of Victoria. She gave birth to 10 children. In 1824, Patricia, Martin and their children moved to the land granted to them by the newly independent Mexican government. There, on the bank of the Guadalupe River in southwest Texas, they established the city Guadalupe Victoria in honor of Mexico’s first president. She also helped found a church, Nuestra Senora de Guadalpue, and was also actively engaged in helping the family’s wealth increase. In 1833, she became a widow, but managed the family’s property quite successfully. After the Texas Revolution, the family became victims of anti-Mexican sentiments and had to move to Louisiana. She returned to Texas in 1844 to sell some of her 25,000 acres of land, to re-claim her scattered belongings, and resume her work with the Church. Petra Vela Vidal Kenedy was the matriarch of one of the most important families in Texas history. She was born in 1825 in Mier, Mexico to an upper class family. In December 1840, at age sixteen, she met a colonel in the Mexican army, Luis Vidal, with whom she had eight children before he died in 1849. Petra later met and married Mifflin Kenedy in 1852 in Mier, Mexico and, shortly thereafter, moved to Brownsville where she dedicated her life to childbearing, child rearing, and domestic endeavors. Petra was a devout Catholic and donated generous contributions to the Church in Brownsville. She died at age 62 in 1885 in Corpus Christi. Both women experienced different treatment under Mexican and Anglo rule and their legacies and indomitable spirits endure.