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Who were the alcaldes?

The Spanish, and later Mexican, unit of local government was the municipio, which was governed by an ayuntamiento (town council).  The Spanish system of government was juridical in nature, thus the administrative head of the ayuntamiento was the town’s judge.  The Spanish word alcalde, originates from the Arabic word ضِي‎ (al-qāḍī, “judge”) and entered the Spanish language during the Islamic period of Spain.  The alcaldes of Béxar were elected annually, presided over the ayuntamiento and served as the local magistrate responsible for all civil, criminal and family matters.

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Why is this important to our city?

Béxar County is the administrative descendant of the municipio of Béxar.  Béxar was founded in 1731 by charter of the King of Spain and was dissolved in December of 1836, when it was transformed into the County of Béxar  by the 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas. Often mis-translated as “mayors”, the political descendants of the alcaldes are the County Judges. The judicial nature of County government was carried over from the Spanish/Mexican system. The City of San Antonio was incorporated by the Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1837 as an American-style municipality, establishing our current system of overlapping city/county local government.

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What is forensic portraiture?

There are no known paintings or photographs of most of the alcaldes.  Modern forensic science, however, provides a solution to generating a portrait series. 

Utilizing techniques used by law enforcement to reconstruct likenesses from skeletal remains, photos of family members and age progression, forensic artists can closely approximate the likenesses of the alcaldes.

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Portrait of Juan Seguín.

Why do we need a canonical list of alcaldes?

No list of alcaldes of Béxar exists that is supported by archival research. The City of San Antonio has a list on its website, but it does not reflect the numerous issues that arose over the 105 period, including resignations, deaths in office, ad interim appointments and other irregularities.

Archival research performed by Los Alcaldes de Béxar nonprofit has revealed several discrepancies in the City’s list. Research into a canonical list should reveal invaluable information into the history and happenings of the ayuntamiento of Béxar and its alcaldes.

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