While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Camilla Campbell

NAVARRO, JOSÉ ÁNGEL [THE ELDER] (1784–1836). The elder José Ángel Navarro, a soldier and leading citizen of early Texas, oldest child of María Josefa (Ruiz) and Ángel Navarro, was born in San Antonio de Béxar in 1784. He was a lieutenant of infantry when the Spanish general Joaquín de Arredondo led an army into San Antonio in August 1813 after the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition. The general, learning that Navarro's relatives were on the side of Mexican independence, discharged him and caused him to flee for his life into the interior of Mexico. His widowed mother hurried her minor children out of town, and his brother Antonio, an uncle, and a brother-in-law sought safety in Louisiana. In 1821 the family was together again, and José Ángel proclaimed to San Antonio the new independence of Mexico and accepted the surrender of the Spanish governor (see MEXICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE). From this time the fortunes of the Navarros improved. The sons ran the mercantile store founded by their father. Navarro was able to make the second largest donation to rebuild their burned-out church, San Fernando. He witnessed the marriage of his niece, Ursula Veramendi, to James Bowie in 1831.

On December 19, 1832, San Antonio became the first Texas town to present a list of grievances to the legislature of Coahuila and Texas. The Béxar Remonstrance was signed by Navarro as alcalde, with six others. Included was a plea that state authorities seek the repeal of that part of the Law of April 6, 1830, that banned immigration from the United States; it also urged that steps be taken to separate Texas from Coahuila. In 1835 Navarro was elected political chief of the Department of Bexar. By this time, Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna had dissolved the congress and made himself ruler of Mexico, and was resorting to the use of military force to put down the state governments, including that of Coahuila and Texas. He sent Col. Domingo de Ugartechea and his cavalry to set up a command post in Bexar. A conflict arose between Navarro, who had been requested to send 100 men of the civic militia to the capital at Monclova, and Ugartechea, who had received orders from his superior, Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos, to prevent any militia from leaving Texas. Navarro sent the militia and wrote Ugartechea that "the civic militia depends exclusively on the authorities of the state and are in no manner subject to the orders of military officers." When Cos arrived in Bexar with some 800 soldiers on October 9, 1835, Navarro refused to let him use his home as headquarters. In November, when the Texas volunteers were converging on Bexar after their victory at the battle of Gonzales, Samuel A. Maverick and other local Americans took refuge from Cos at Navarro's ranch. Joseph H. Barnard was a guest in the Navarros' town house, and was joined by Horace A. Alsbury, husband of Navarro's daughter Juana (see ALSBURY, JUANA NAVARRO) after the fall of the Alamo. By Concepción Cervantes, Navarro had three "natural" daughters, Juana Gertrudis, María Petra, and María Gertrudis. The last went by the name Gertrudis; she and Juana were present at the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836 (see ALAMO NONCOMBATANTS). The older of Navarro's two sons by his wife, María Juana Ramírez, was not yet five years old when Navarro died at his home on June 13, 1836.


Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). Joseph M. Dawson, José Antonio Navarro, Co-Creator of Texas (Waco: Baylor University Press, 1964). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Louis J. Wortham, A History of Texas (5 vols., Fort Worth: Wortham-Molyneaux, 1924).

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.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Camilla Campbell, "NAVARRO, JOSE ANGEL [THE ELDER]," accessed July 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fna16.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on July 30, 2012. 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...