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 »

VILLEGAS, LEOPOLDO

José R. Pérez
Leopoldo Villegas (1875–1961).
Leopoldo Villegas was a longtime merchant in Laredo. He served as mayor from 1922 to 1926 and as justice of the peace from 1930 to 1960. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

VILLEGAS, LEOPOLDO (1875–1961). Leopoldo Villegas, merchant, attorney, and city official, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on April 20, 1875. He was the son of Joaquín Villegas, a merchant from Spain, and Valeriana Rubio, a citizen of Mexico. He grew up in Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where his father Joaquín and uncle Quintín Villegas had established successful mercantile businesses. Leopoldo Villegas was well-educated during his childhood and eventually attended New York City University. He graduated in 1897 and went on to earn a law degree from New York Law School. Villejas remained in New York for a time and practiced law in the district attorney’s office.

By 1900 he had returned to Laredo, where he was listed as a merchant in the 1900 census. By the time of the 1910 census, he had married Inez de la Garza and was living in her parents’ household. They had a son, Leopoldo Jr. In addition to his profession as a grocery merchant, he was also a banker for a local banking institution in Laredo. Leopoldo Villegas served as mayor of Laredo from 1922 to 1926. During his tenure he began a street improvement project which included the paving of 104 blocks of streets, construction of curbs and gutters, and the installation of a sanitary sewer and storm sewer system. Villegas also served as justice of the peace in Webb County for thirty years from 1930 until 1960 when he retired. During this time, he continued to run a large mercantile business—L. Villegas and Company—in which he served as the senior owner (with his brother Lorenzo). At the time of his death, Villegas was the last surviving original member of the Order of Red Men, an organization that started the annual Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo. He also owned Villegas Ranch, located east of Laredo.

Leopoldo Villegas died at the age of eighty-six on September 7, 1961, at Mercy Hospital in Laredo. A widower, he was survived by his son, Leopoldo Jr., three grandsons, and nieces and nephews. He was buried in Laredo’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery. He was subsequently honored at the city’s Washington Birthday Celebration in 1962, and the Laredo Times reported, “The patriotism and community pride which motivated Judge Villegas and his generation will long be remembered in Laredo.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Laredo Times, September 8, 1961; February 16, 1962. “Leopoldo Villegas, Sr,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178909377/leopoldo-villegas), accessed January 15, 2020.

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, José R. Pérez, "VILLEGAS, LEOPOLDO ," accessed May 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fvill.

Uploaded on January 15, 2020. 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...