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 »


Justin Davis

PASTORIZA, JOSEPH JAY (1857–1917). Joseph Jay Pastoriza, printer, Houston tax commissioner, and mayor, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 8, 1857. He was the son of Joseph Pastoriza, and his parents were Spanish immigrants from Barcelona, Spain. In 1858 Pastoriza and his parents moved to Houston, Texas, where his parents died in a yellow fever epidemic. Afterwards, he was adopted by the family of lumberman Edward Daly. As a child Pastoriza attended Fitzgerald’s Academy in Houston. At the age of seventeen, he became an apprentice to an iron molder and at night worked at shorthand and did bookkeeping. In 1878 he became a business manager for the Houston-based newspaper The Age. In 1879 Pastoriza started an enterprise that would become the successful Pastoriza Printing and Lithographing Company. He advocated a shorter work day and the closing of businesses at 6 p.m.—a schedule that he implemented in his own company. Eventually many other stores in Houston followed suit. Joseph Pastoriza married Lula Girard of Waxahachie, Texas, on January 14, 1886. They had a son—Hugh.

Pastoriza’s business (along with various property investments) was so profitable that he, at the age of forty-eight, was able to retire in 1906 to focus on public service. He spent the next four years traveling across the United States and Europe. He studied many municipal governments during his journey and made plans for his coming life in the political arena. In Houston, Pastoriza served as the vice president of the Houston Manufactures Association and was a member of the Houston Single Tax League. Pastoriza, a Democrat, was elected tax commissioner of Houston in 1911 and was reelected in 1913 and 1915. He was a proponent of the economic philosophy of social reformer Henry George and supported a property tax that was assessed based on land value. As tax commissioner, Pastoriza helped create and chaired the Houston Committee on Taxation. From this position he helped implement the single tax (with stiff opposition) in Houston, which became popular in the city and soon spread to other cities across the state. 

When Mayor Ben Campbell declined to run for a third term in 1917, Pastoriza decided to run for mayor. In the mayoral election of 1917, Pastoriza faced heated and bitter opposition during the campaign. However, he managed to win convincingly by 43.9 percent against three other candidates in the Democratic primary. His term as mayor was short-lived; less than five months after the election and two months after taking the oath of office, Pastoriza died of apoplexy in his home on July 9, 1917. He was survived by his wife Lula, son Hugh, and brother Alexander. After his death his body was cremated. At the time of his death Pastoriza, a successful real estate investor, owned sixty-two vacant lots and six improved tracts valued at $75,000. A bronze bust, created by local sculptor Enrico Cerracchio, was erected in Houston in April 1919 to honor his memory and his legacy in that city.


Stephen Davis, “Joseph Jay Pastoriza and the Single Tax in Houston, 1911–1917,” The Houston Review 8 (1986). Houston Daily Post, February 19, 1911; July 10, 1917. Houston Post, April 18, 1919.

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, Justin Davis, "PASTORIZA, JOSEPH JAY," accessed May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpa70.

Uploaded on November 22, 2016. 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...