A collection of old documents donated by a descendant of a San Antonio alcalde to the Bexar County Spanish Archives is helping uncover San Antonio’s storied history.
Last year, Edward Yturri, 95, turned over the private and business papers of his great-great-great-grandfather Manuel Yturri y Castillo. Castillo, an alcalde or mayor, lived from 1790 to 1842. Spanish Archivist David C. Carlson said the gift will be preserved as the Edward Yturri Collection in the office’s special collections.
“It’s really extraordinary,” he said. “The papers span the Spanish, Mexican, Texas Republic, early statehood and Confederate States of America periods.”
Selections of the new addition were on display for members of two West Side humanitarian groups, the Ghost Town Survivors and San Antonio Barrio Girls, during a recent tour at the archives building, at 126 E. Nueva St. The repository consists of more than a quarter-million pages that date back to the Spanish colonial era. The office is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Carlson pointed to one of the letters in a glass case that Castillo’s father, Pelayo de Yturri y Castillo, wrote to the Spanish viceroy in 1803, asking permission for his son Manuel to leave the Basque country of northern Spain and travel to Mexico. According to the Handbook of Tejano History, by 1817, Castillo had made San Antonio de Bexar his home, where he owned several properties. His residences included a home near Main Plaza; another property was located on South Presa Street in La Villita.
Castillo married Maria Joseph Rodriguez, whose ancestry could be traced to one of 16 Canary Island families who established the first municipal government in Texas in 1731.
In 1823, the merchant served one term as alcalde. Fifteen years later, he was elected as alderman. His son, Manuel, was a confederate officer in the Civil War and later became a businessman, public servant and rancher.
Carlson said Edward Yturri and his daughter wanted to safeguard their ancestor’s papers. They spoke to the Conservation Society of San Antonio about taking the collection because they control the Yturri-Edmunds historic house and mill. Castillo’s granddaughter Ernestine Edmunds willed the adobe-block house and land to the society. The conservation group suggested that Yturri talk to the Spanish Archives.
The archivist said after Yturri heard about their care and preservation of historical …….