This year, which is also the 175th anniversary of Texas' Independence, the reunion will celebrate the family's significance in Texas history, including a monument dedication in Victoria's Market Square commemorating Placido Benavides' influence on Texas history, and the 25th Annual Martin de Leon Symposium, held in conjunction with the University of Houston-Victoria and the de Leon Club.
Victoria is one of the state's oldest cities. Victoria County is the only county in Texas where all famed six flags have flown. In the wake of the Mexican Revolution in 1821, twenty six applications were submitted for colonization grants. Only half were approved. Martin de Leon's application was approved in April of 1824. Of those approved, only de Leon and Stephen F. Austin fulfilled the terms of their contracts.
Martin de Leon laid out the city according to century-old Spanish colonization law and brought families to Texas to settle the new colony. Martin de Leon had four sons and six daughters. All of his children were born in Texas, except his eldest son, Don Fernando de Leon, who was born in Mexico. The de Leon family reunion brings together descendants from all over the United States for fellowship and to share the family legacy.
As part of the festivities, the City of Victoria and the Victoria County Historical Commission will place a monument on Market Square honoring the historic stand that Placido Benavides, as their first alcalde, took in 1835 against Mexico. According to historical evidence, a Mexican officer came to Victoria to arrest Benavides' brother-in-law, Jose Maria de Jesus Carvajal. Benavides stated that he was a constitutional officer - not subject to the army of Santa Anna, and would not turn Carvajal over to him. The officer departed empty handed, but returned the next day and explained that he was not happy with the Mexican governement either. This, along with many events in this region of Texas, exemplified the people's unhappiness with Mexican rule under Santa Anna, which eventually led to Texas Independence.
Another public event - the 25th annual Martin de Leon Symposium on the Humanities - is slated for Saturday, April 9, 2011 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in conjunction with the University of Houston-Victoria and the de Leon Club. The event is free and open to the public. Presentations will be made by J. F. de la Teja, Ph.D., Joseph E. Chance, Ph.D. and Carolina Castillo Crimm, Ph.D.
The Victoria Convention & Vistors Bureau is happy to support the family reunion and encourages de Leon descendants to bring their boots while exploring the rich past and rediscover what Victoria has to offer. The Victoria CVB invites all Texans to head to Victoria - and bring their boots! For more information: 800-926-5774 or http://www.visitvictoriatexas.com/ .
Friday 2 p.m. - Dedication of the Monument to Placido Benavides, Alcalde of Victoria
City Hall Plaza, 105 W Juan Linn Street
4 p.m. - Honoring our Ancestors of Don Martin and Dona Patricia de la Garza de Leon and their Children
de Leon Plot, Evergreen Cemetary
N. Vine Street
6 p.m. - Meet and Greet and Social event
University of Houston-Victoria Multipurpose Room
3007 North Ben Wilson
Saturday April 9th, 9 am - 11 am
The Martin de Leon Symposium with Guest Speakers at the Leo J Welder Center for the Performing Arts at 214 Main Street Victoria, Texas.