CARDONA, GREGORIO JOSÉ MARĺA

Sandra D. Smith Davidson
Cardona Gravestone.
Educator and civil rights activist G. J. M. Cardona is buried in Panteon Hidalgo Cemetery in New Braunfels, Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

CARDONA, GREGORIO JOSÉ MARĺA (1876–1920). Gregorio José María Cardona, educator, activist, and officer in Leñadores del Mundo, was born to Rosalio Cardona and Teresa Bobadilla in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on November 17, 1876. When he was about three years old, Cardona became orphaned, and a priest in Guadalajara, Eduardo Sánchez Camacho, provided for him and ensured his education. In his writings, Cardona (who went by his initials G.J.M.) referred to Sánchez Camacho (bishop of Tamaulipas beginning in 1880) as his “foster father.”

Much of Cardona’s early life is yet unknown. His record in the 1920 census listed that he immigrated to the United States in 1904. By 1906 he operated a school in Brownsville, Texas. Two years later he moved to New Braunfels where he and members of the ethnic Mexican community successfully petitioned school trustees for the creation of a Mexican school, located in a section of New Braunfels known as Comaltown, at which Cardona fulfilled the roles of both teacher and principal from 1908 to 1920.

G.J.M. Cardona worked to improve the lives of local Mexican Americans via his leadership in the Mexican school as well as his involvement in the community. In May 1917 he and three others presented a petition containing more than 150 signatures to the New Braunfels City Council asking for better treatment for ethnic Mexicans in the town. 

In spite of Cardona’s participation in community events and his promotion of cooperation between the races, he was not above suspicion during the years immediately preceding and encompassing World War I. In 1915 some New Braunfels residents accused Cardona of encouraging local Mexicans to make trouble, a claim that Cardona publicly refuted. Two years later during World War I, members of the Comal County Council of Defense reported Cardona to the Texas State Council of Defense and claimed that Cardona’s letter to the editor about a recent trip to Mexico encouraged the exodus of Mexicans at a time when Texans needed their labor for the war effort. Cardona likely did not know he was under investigation; if he did, he never publicly addressed these concerns. Throughout the remainder of the war, Cardona spoke at patriotic rallies, served on the health committee of the local American Red Cross, made monetary donations to both the Red Cross and the Belgian Children’s Milk Fund, and published a letter to the editor in La Prensa about the origins of “Uncle Sam.”

G.J.M. Cardona participated in the Junta Patriotica, a committee that planned the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration, and he was a member of the fraternal society Caballeros de Honor (Knights of Honor). However, Cardona’s notability spread far beyond Comal County via his participation in Leñadores del Mundo (the Woodmen of the World [W.O.W.] auxiliary for ethnic Mexicans), a fraternal society that provided insurance for members. In New Braunfels, Cardona helped found Campo Independencia No. 3337 in 1918 and the Industrial W.O.W. camp Allende in 1919. He served as secretary of Campo Independencia and comandante del campo (camp commander) of Allende. Later, as diputado instalador (deputy installer), Cardona traveled around the area and helped establish W.O.W. camps in Brazos, Wilson, Hays, Robertson, Milam, and other counties. By the end of August 1919 Cardona had organized twenty-five camps. As jefe de distrito (district chief), Cardona oversaw camps in fourteen counties. 

Tragically, during the height of his career, Gregorio José María Cardona died of liver cancer in New Braunfels on September 7, 1920. He left a widow, Martina Cantú, whom he had married in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, in 1910. Adopted son Nicolás Rodolfo preceded him in death. He was buried in Panteon Hidalgo Cemetery in New Braunfels.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Brownsville Daily Herald, March 28, 1907. Sandra Denise Smith Davidson, Propaganda, Pressure, and Patriotism: The Texas State Council of Defense and the Politics of Gender, Race, and Class During World War I (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Houston, 2017). La Prensa, January 24, 1919; February 4, 1919; May 2, 25, 1919; June 14, 1919; August 22, 30, 1919; April 9, 1920; September 14, 1920. New Braunfels Herald, August 20, 1915; December 31, 1915; June 8, 1917; November 9, 1917; September 20, 27, 1918; November 15, 1918; September 10, 1920. New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, November 28, 2013. New Braunfels School Board, Meeting Minutes, April 7, 1908–December 1, 1914. 

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Sandra D. Smith Davidson, "CARDONA, GREGORIO JOSÉ MARĺA ," accessed December 14, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcard.

Uploaded on November 25, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...