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JARVIS, SAMUEL MATTHIAS (1822–1893). Samuel Matthias Jarvis, public official, was born in New York City on October 9, 1822, and was educated by wealthy parents in some of the city's better schools. As a young man he left home and joined a filibustering expedition to Nicaragua, where he was captured and imprisoned, but was released at the beginning of the Mexican War in 1846. Along with his brother Nathan, an army surgeon, he joined Gen. Zachary Taylor's army in northeastern Mexico. Jarvis later served with Gen. Winfield Scott's army and participated in the battle of Chapultepec and the capture of Mexico City. After serving for two years as a clerk in the office of the quartermaster at Fort Brown, he took a similar job with a mining company at Vallecillos, Nuevo León, Mexico, where he married Inocencia Flores. They had eight children.

After the Civil War Jarvis settled in Laredo, Texas. Reported to be an efficient, dynamic, no-nonsense, and unforgiving individual, Jarvis was appointed mayor of Laredo in 1868 and served for a year. At the same time he served as Webb county judge, collector of customs, and county surveyor. During his tenure as mayor, he set out to improve the physical appearance of Laredo. Ordinances were passed to stop the excessive violence in the streets, and a new cemetery was established. Having a deep respect for the history of the United States and Mexico, Jarvis named many of the major streets in Laredo, in alternating fashion, for political and military heroes from the two countries. Streets were also named for Laredo's first families such as Vidaurri, Salinas, Benavides, and García. His secretary gave the names of Jarvis's daughters to other streets, such as Santa Clotilde for Clotilde Jarvis and Santa Maria for Maria Jarvis.

Jarvis is also considered the father of the Laredo Republican party. He ran for mayor in November 1872 but was defeated by Agustín Salinas. Local Republicans complained of election irregularities, but to no avail. Afterwards, Jarvis remained active in local and state politics and ran unsuccessfully several times for local office. He died on January 31, 1893, and was buried in the Laredo Catholic Cemetery. Jarvis Plaza in Laredo is named for him.


Helen Chapman, The News From Brownsville: Helen Chapman's Letters from the Texas Military Frontier, 1848–1852, ed. Caleb Coker (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992). Stanley Green, ed., Border Biographies (Laredo, Texas: Border Studies Publications, 1991). Jerry D. Thompson, Warm Weather and Bad Whiskey: The 1886 Laredo Election Riot (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1991).

Rene Raymond Meza

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Handbook of Texas Online, Rene Raymond Meza, "Jarvis, Samuel Matthias," accessed October 20, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 24, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.